Micah Richards has given the main reason why Liverpool have the upper hand over Manchester United in the hunt for a top-four spot, while Jamie Redknapp has called the Red Devils’ next match ‘season-defining’.
Liverpool stretched their winning run to six games by beating Brentford 1-0 at home on Saturday evening. Mo Salah scored his 100th Anfield goal and that proved to be the winner, with Brentford unable to respond despite putting in a solid performance.
Fifth-placed Liverpool are now just one point behind Man Utd, who occupy fourth spot. Man Utd have two games in hand on their rivals, although they are now under big pressure to win them as Jurgen Klopp’s side are breathing down their necks.
Following Liverpool’s victory against Brentford, former Manchester City defender Richards revealed Klopp’s men have the advantage over Man Utd as they can ‘play with freedom’. Redknapp, meanwhile, urged Man Utd to proceed with caution, as if they lose away to West Ham on Sunday night their Champions League qualification place will be in serious trouble.
“I’m a little bit more confident because there’s no pressure, they [Liverpool] are not expected to finish in the top four,” Richards said on Sky Sports (06/05 at 19:54). “Jamie made a good point, where they were probably four months ago, so many points behind. But now they just play with a little bit of freedom.
“The good thing about Liverpool, they’re not playing like the Liverpool of old, [but] they’re still getting over the line. The clean sheet was massive for them today.
“I think they can just go into every game full of confidence and see what happens. Sometimes it’s better to chase rather than have the points on the board psychologically.”
Redknapp added: “Man Utd have got a game, West Ham away, their next game. That feels like it is their season right there. If they win that, I expect they’ll get it going.
Next Man Utd game ‘so important’ for Liverpool fate
“Away from home they’ve had so many problems, against the top sides that is. That is such an important game. If they were to lose it, Klopp is right, Liverpool just have to be ready.
“They [Liverpool] have got three good games, Leicester away, [Aston] Villa at home and Southampton away. They’re games you would like. Man Utd’s aren’t too bad either.”
Redknapp continued: “No matter what happens, there’s some momentum [at Liverpool] and there’s a feel-good factor again after what’s been a disappointing season.
“There’s things to be enthused about, in terms of Trent Alexander-Arnold and what happens to him next year in that [midfield] position.”
Liverpool have done excellently to get this close to Man Utd after such a turbulent season. But they may have just left it too late, as Man Utd’s two games in hand put them in a strong position.
However, as Richards and Redknapp point out, Ten Hag’s players will be feeling the pressure. Blowing Champions League qualification would be a major setback for Ten Hag’s project and would also have serious consequences for their hopes of landing some world-class stars in the next transfer window.