Adam Lallana has recently stated; “‘Liverpool vs Middlesbrough is our cup-final”. A victory will ensure Liverpool a place in next season’s Champions League. In fact all Liverpool need to do is better Arsenal’ s result against Everton.
As reported in this weeks Liverpool Echo, Adam Lallana has branded the game against already relegated Middlesbrough as the Reds’ cup final. Having already completed part one of their top four dreams when they thrashed West Ham last weekend.
But attacking midfielder Lallana insist the 4-0 win at the London Stadium was a semi-final to this week’s show stopping finale.
“It’s good to be going into the final day of the Premier League with something riding on it.
“The manager has spoken about that with us this week. This is what you want as a footballer. These are the occasions you thrive on.”
“West Ham last weekend felt like a semi-final and now this is the final. It’s in our hands. We want to make this season a great season.”
Relegated Middlesbrough stand between Liverpool and Champions League qualification. Victory and a top-four finish will be secure. Jurgen Klopp’s men could even bag third spot if Manchester City fail to win at Watford.
Lallana insists a pre-match call to arms isn’t required. He believes both players and supporters alike know exactly what’s required.
“Of course there’s pressure but there have been a lot of high pressure games this season where we’ve really stepped up to the mark,” he said.
“Arsenal at home on the back of losing at Leicester and Tottenham at home after losing to Hull. There was big pressure and the lads responded with two big performances.
“There was huge pressure at West Ham last weekend, especially after the other results the day before. But what I liked was that there was a real calmness around the group. We showed great professionalism with the way we approached it.
“There was the right balance in terms of being up for the game but not getting carried away and I’ve felt the same this week. We know the job this weekend and we trust ourselves to do it.
“It’s important we don’t get restless if a goal doesn’t come in the first 15 to 20 minutes. At West Ham we didn’t get the breakthrough until 35 minutes. We need to trust our ability.
“The supporters know their job. They aren’t stupid, we don’t need to build them up for the weekend. They know there’s a lot riding on it. I’m sure they’ll stay patient like we have to as players.
“The support they have given us home and away throughout the season has been outstanding. They have driven us on and we’ll need them again on Sunday. We want to do it for them.”
Back in November, when Liverpool hit the Premier League summit, they had their sights set higher than simply bagging a Champions League spot. But Lallana insists considering the hurdles they’ve faced since then a top-four finish would be worth celebrating.
Such hurdles include; Injuries to Mané on top of his AFCON Tournament. Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho and Sturridge all out injured. Matip unable to play due to refusing to play at AFCON!
“It would be a great achievement when you consider the teams that have been going for those places this season,” he said.
“We could hit 76 points, which is a big improvement on last year. The dynamic of the Premier League now is completely different to say five years ago.
“Leicester City winning the title, Tottenham having two fantastic seasons, plus on top of that you’ve got Chelsea, Arsenal, City and United.
“I’d say the Premier League this season has been as competitive as it’s ever been. That makes getting into the top-four all the more challenging.”