Even if Liverpool are ultimately not champions, to think back how many points we were behind Manchester City a year ago but we’ve caught them up is amazing and that’s testament to the work that Jurgen Klopp, his staff and the players have put in. It’s really frustrating. Any other year we’d have won it by a mile, easily, but this has happened. I’m not having these shouts that Liverpool have somehow ‘thrown it away.’ How can you throw it away if you finish on 90 odd points? It’s just that City have raised the bar so high. With City’s goal at Burnley and the clearance against Liverpool when the sides met at the Etihad, you’re talking a few inches between potentially being champions and not winning it. Those are the fine margins. All we can do is try and build on our success of this year and try and buy in the summer to become strong again next season – because City will be.
You’ve got to keep growing and growing and growing. It’s out of our hands, there’s nothing we can do, but the players have just stepped up and got better as the season has gone on. The 5-0 win over Huddersfield showed we’re in good form ahead of our trip to Barcelona because there’s probably no tougher place to go. Unfortunately it looks like we’re going to get pipped by a point because City will win their last two games without a shadow of a doubt. I don’t see either Leicester or Brighton being good enough to stop them – they’re just steamrollers at the moment.
All we can do is win our games. Stranger things have happened in football but I just can’t see it. I thought City would have slipped up somewhere along the line but they simply haven’t and the amount of games that they’ve won on the bounce is ridiculous. Burnley particularly defended brilliantly against them. Sean Dyche set his stall out and tried to do Liverpool a favour. He knew if they took City on then they wouldn’t win the game and he played in a defensive manner and if it wasn’t for an inch or two with Sergio Aguero’s shot just crossing the line then they might have got a draw.
Matthew Lowton of Burnley clears the ball but a shot from Sergio Aguero of Manchester City has gone over the line
(Image: Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester United just gave in! They had a little bit of a go in the first half but they’re miles away at the moment. I thought against Burnley, United and Tottenham that City might have drawn one but they haven’t, that’s how good they’ve been. The owners have used their money wisely over several years now and brought in one of the best coaches in world football to bring them together – Pep Guardiola is a different class.
The respective points totals show how far Liverpool and City are above the rest. It’s a remarkable achievement from both clubs but particularly Liverpool given the budget they’ve worked within. As for our next Premier League game at St James’ Park, it’s strange to think that our title hopes could lie in Rafa Benitez’s hands.
He’s a professional though and he’ll want to beat Liverpool. Rafa enjoyed his time at Anfield but it’s gone now, of course he’ll try and get the three points for his Newcastle United side. You don’t take anything for granted and we’ve just got to look after that when it comes and approach it in the same manner we’ve done in every game over the last three months or so when we’ve been brilliant. I loved playing at the Camp Nou and Reds have won there with a lesser side I think we need to score in the Camp Nou to have an opportunity because Barcelona will be coming to Anfield trying to score. Without being daunted it’s all about us. We can get a result there, hey we can win. We won there with a lesser side than we’ve got now. I wouldn’t put it past the lads, they’ve been phenomenal with what they’ve done this season. Barca will target our wide areas because Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both get forward – they’re almost like wingers.
Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold show appreciation to the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur
(Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
They’ll look to try and get in behind those two in the wide areas but if we play our natural game then we’re well-capable of getting an away goal. Even if we don’t win anything, as fans we haven’t half enjoyed ourselves. If we get to another European final then it will keep us high on the map.
The club are going places now, on and off the pitch, it’s been growing so vast over the past few years. I wouldn’t go along with any suggestions that this is the ‘real final’ in that the winners of the tie will go on to lift the trophy. Tottenham are a very good side on their day and Ajax have been a breath of fresh air to the competition and have been brilliant in knocking out the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus and you cannot bypass them.
For me, the Camp Nou is like Anfield in that it’s one of the ‘Meccas’ of football. I played there three times and it’s my favourite opposition ground. I never got beat there. With Real Sociedad we drew two all and I scored two; we drew 3-3 and I scored two and we won 3-1 and I scored two!
John Aldridge of Real Sociedad
(Image: Shaun Botterill/Allsport)
I’ve got fond memories of playing there, I love it, it’s a fabulous stadium to score at and to go and win. I’d love our strikers to have a similar feeling going there. It brought the best out of me going there. If you can’t play at places like that, then you shouldn’t be in football.
You need to go there and enjoy it. Obviously you respect Barcelona and if you’ve given 100% then afterwards in the shower or the bath you feel really good. As a kid you strive to play at places like this.
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