This time a week ago, Liverpool had lost control of their own destiny in the race to finish in the top four and qualify for next season's Champions League. After stumbles by Manchester United and City and a nervy victory over Watford, they're back in control not only of the top four race but the top three.
Win out, and United can't catch them for fourth. Win out, and it's likely—though not completely certain—they would hold the tiebreaker against City for third. That means pressure. Pressure like they felt heading into Monday's game. And that kind pressure, says Jürgen Klopp, is a good thing.
"We need to stay focused and we need to stay concentrated," said the Liverpool manager. "We have pressure, yes, but pressure in the end of the season means you're fighting for something. It's a positive pressure, so we want to keep this—we want to keep this pressure high, we want to stay focused.
"We want to work hard and do everything for the points we can get. We don't expect for a second that it will be easy. Southampton are a really strong side and it will be another hard game but nobody can take these points away from us and now we have time to work and prepare for the next game."
A pair of bookending April stumbles against sides well beneath them in the table, a draw with Bournemouth to start the month and a loss to Crystal Palace to end it, are the reason for that pressure. But at least now it still is pressure—pressure to stay ahead of the competition for the top four.
At least it's pressure and not hope. The hope United, no longer in control of their destiny and needing either Liverpool or City to slip up while facing their own tough schedule—including matches against Arsenal, Spurs, and Palace—and European commitments, have to fall back on.
Or even worse, the hope of Arsenal, now all but out of touch in sixth. It might have made for a nicer end to the season to not be feeling that pressure. To have beat Bournemouth and Palace and feel comfortable sat in third. Pressure, though. It's not the worst thing. It means you're playing for something.