Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool were discounted in the race for the top four, but six wins in a row has set up “an interesting period” at the end of the season.
Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal secured a 1-0 win over Brentford at Anfield on Saturday to move Liverpool to within a point of their stuttering fourth-placed rivals Manchester United, albeit having played two games more.
Liverpool have claimed 19 points from a possible 21 since moving Trent Alexander-Arnold into a hybrid midfield role and there is now a glimmer of hope that they could salvage Champions League qualification, although seventh-placed Brighton will move ahead of Klopp’s side if they win their three games in hand.
“Six games ago nobody would have thought we would be here,” Klopp told BBC Sport. “We cannot do more than win football games. If Manchester United play their games in the way they want they will be seven points away and that will be really difficult to catch.
“We have to make sure we finish the situation in the best possible way.”
Man Utd, who have managed one away win in their last five attempts, go to West Ham on Sunday night knowing they need nine points from their final five games to ensure a top-four finish.
Klopp is not optimistic about his side’s chances but is glad Liverpool have pushed United all the way.
“Maybe it’s a bit too late but better late than never,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Imagine if [Man Utd slipped up]. I don’t think they will but imagine if they did and we weren’t there. We would really regret that. If United win their two games in hand, then they are seven points away and it’s pretty much done.
“We know that. Brighton, if they win all their games in hand which is absolutely possible they are above us. It’s an interesting period. We have to make sure we keep the teams behind us, behind us because they are coming.
“Nothing is decided and that’s good.”
Alexander-Arnold’s rediscovery of his best form has been a key aspect of Liverpool’s improved fortunes but Klopp refused to commit to keep playing the right-back in a hybrid role next season.
“It depends on the players we bring in,” Klopp said. “It suits him extremely well [playing in midfield].
“The chance he set up for Darwin (Nunez) was a very special ball. He is defensively very strong, he still has to adapt to the formation because I think he struggled a bit in the last game.
“It is not him, he cannot be everywhere. Trent played pretty much all minutes in this really intense period. It’s outstanding what he is doing.”
Analysis: Liverpool have new blueprint for success
Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:
“This time last season Liverpool were slugging it out with Manchester City for the Premier League title. They’ve fallen some way from those heady heights.
“Liverpool were, after all, two games from winning it all. Coming so close to an historic quadruple and falling short at the last hurdle had taken the wind out of their sails.
“As Jurgen Klopp says, Liverpool, for all intents and purposes, were dead and buried about a month ago. But the gamble to change the team’s system mid-season has paid off for the German.
“Irrespective of the outcome of this season, Liverpool have found a new blueprint for success.
“Six wins on the bounce has brought about a sense of hope back to Anfield. The supporters can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“You never know, they could emerge from it with Champions League football if things fall their way in the final month of the season.”
May 15: Leicester (A) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 20: Aston Villa (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 28: Southampton (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
May 7: West Ham (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7pm
May 13: Wolves (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 20: Bournemouth (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 25: Chelsea (H) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 28: Fulham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm
June 3: Manchester City (N) – FA Cup final, kick-off 3pm
May 8: Everton (H) – Premier League, kick-off 5.30pm
May 13: Arsenal (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 18: Newcastle (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7.30pm
May 21: Southampton (H) – Premier League, kick-off 2pm
May 24: Man City (H) – Premier League, kick-off 8pm, live on Sky Sports
May 28: Aston Villa (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm