Liverpool FC

Top four is still in Liverpool's reach - but they need a perfect finish

Robbie Copeland
May 7, 2021, 5:45 PM GMT+1
Liverpool have five games left to salvage their top four hopes
Liverpool have five games left to salvage their top four hopes / Pool/Getty Images

You're not alone as a Liverpool fan if you're counting the days until we can put this long, bruising season behind us.

One by one the aspirations have gone out the window, and now the summer - and a break from ceaseless club football at empty stadia up and down the country - have rarely looked more attractive than they do now.

But before we get there, there are five more games left to see out. And while it all feels a bit dead rubber, the 15 points on the line could prove decisive when the time comes to get back into the swing of it in September.

It all starts against Southampton on Saturday evening as the Reds look to close the gap on Chelsea and claw their way back into top four contention.

With Tottenham travelling to Leeds and Chelsea making the trip to Man City earlier in the day, it looks as if there may well be ground to gain. And after stumbling to draws in their last two matches, Liverpool can scarcely afford to miss another chance to make up some points.

Jurgen Klopp's attentions may be on the rescheduled trip to Old Trafford on Thursday, and that may influence his selection. But the pool of players he has available looks strong...relatively.

The return of Nat Phillips means that Fabinho can slot back into midfield, while Curtis Jones is back in contention after making his return against Newcastle at the weekend. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, having each missed out against the Magpies amid disappointing individual seasons, may also expect to play some part.

Depending on the results elsewhere on Saturday, Liverpool could go into their game knowing a win catapults them into a strong position for fourth place. Best case scenario, they could find themselves above Tottenham and breathing down the necks of Chelsea and West Ham, with a game fewer on the board than the London sides.

The flip side of the later kick-off is that the pressure could well be on Klopp's team to do the business, or risk dropping out of the race altogether.

Either way, the time is running out in their pursuit of the one remaining accomplishment that could restore some face after this long, damaging season. And Saturday's game is one of five where they simply must hit the mark, or risk a return to Europa League purgatory in 2021/22.

We might have one eye on the summer, but the players can't start packing for their pandemic staycations just yet. There's business to be done.