The novelty of getting to write for this site about big, important Liverpool matches in May still hasn’t worn off. There is, of course, the Champions League final to anticipate, but Liverpool also have plenty to play for in the league as well.
While the title race was well and truly over back in December, the top four fight is still very much on. Liverpool are in fine position, sitting in third but with one less game to play than their main rivals. That they haven’t locked it down by is their own faults, after drawing their last two matches. However, fatigue and injuries have played a big part in that failure as well.
But Liverpool have a chance to put the whole affair to bed once and for all on Sunday when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, who have put in a late-season push to reclaim a top four spot. The Blues have three games left to play, and they need all nine points or for Liverpool to wobble against both them and Brighton.
On paper it seems a tall ask, but this is a Liverpool team filled with players who just played the biggest game of most of their careers on Wednesday, and don’t want to get injured before the Champions League final. It’s a team who will also be without four crucial first team players. Klopp’s line-up will likely feature nine or 10 of the same players that ran their legs off in Rome mid-week. Taken from that perspective, suddenly Chelsea might like their chances a bit more.
Klopp understands the pressure that his players are under and the importance of the match on Sunday.
He said, “Chelsea is a similar situation to the [Roma] game – fighting with all they have, they don’t have anything to lose. If we draw it’s not good for them; if we win it’s not good for them. They have to win and they will try to do so. It’s like a Champions League semi-final, to be honest. We will see what we can do there. The good thing is that we have another game but we don’t think about that at the moment. We need to be ready for the game.
“We had a few really nice moments already this season but you never have time to celebrate it for a second! There is always the next one. Now we have to play that game – Chelsea are waiting.”
Chelsea may smell blood in the water, but despite injury and exhaustion and everything else, it’s impossible to count out a team with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané leading the line. Mané scored a crucial goal on Wednesday against Roma, but Firmino and Salah have gone two games without putting one in the back of the net. That scoreless streak can only last so long with two such prolific goal machines, and with any luck, the dam will burst against at Stamford Bridge.