Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson thinks Liverpool’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League will be dealt a fatal blow if they lose against Arsenal on Saturday.
The Reds head into this weekend’s fixture five points behind Chelsea in the race for the top four, and Merson says Jurgen Klopp’s side will not recover from an eight-point deficit if they suffer defeat at the Emirates:
“Liverpool have got to win this game. They have to get Champions League football for next season. If they are to have any chance, Jurgen Klopp’s side need to win at the Emirates. I expect Chelsea to win at lunchtime on Saturday when they play West Brom at Stamford Bridge. If Liverpool don’t then win, the gap will be too big, in my opinion.”
“It could be as wide as eight points with eight games left to play. However, if Liverpool can beat Arsenal, it will be a massive win for them. All of a sudden, one of their harder games disappears and Chelsea have had one of their easier games as we reach the crucial part of the season.”
It’s a pretty obvious point made by Merson, to be honest with you. Liverpool have to be pretty much perfect between now and the end of the campaign if they want to secure Champions League qualification.
A run of nine wins out of a possible nine would only take them up to 73 points, with 70 usually the bare minimum to finish fourth. Last year, Chelsea only needed 66 to clinch the final Champions League spot. However, we are unlikely to see a repeat of what we saw last season when Leicester City collapsed.