IAN RUSH: Stakes are high in Liverpool FC's fight for Champions League spot

16 February 2010 02:00
FROM suddenly having a chance of claiming third place it appears Liverpool are now back in a fight for fourth.

The seven-game unbeaten run had put us in a decent position ahead of the trip to The Emirates. But looking at it now, Liverpool probably needed to avoid defeat to have a realistic chance of clinching third place.

It was a decent enough performance against Arsenal and a draw would have been a fairer result.

I wouldn't say Liverpool are playing great football but I've noticed a fighting spirit over the last few games. There is a bit of fight in them now, compared to earlier in the season. The players seem to know what's expected of them.

It's unfortunate they lost at Arsenal but Liverpool have a chance to turn it around against Manchester City.

City are on the same number of points as the Reds but have two games in hand.

If they win on Sunday, City will be in prime position to finish fourth. But if Liverpool win, it puts the pressure back on City.

People will often say they prefer points in the bag to games in hand.

It's a crucial match for both clubs but Liverpool are used to this kind of situation. It's all new to City, though, and we'll have to see whether they can stand up to it.

The way they let Mark Hughes go is a sign of the pressure at the club now.

Roberto Mancini has come in to try and take them to the next level.

Although they rarely lost under Mark it was unfortunate for him that they drew too many games.

While that was only ever going to see City progress gradually, Mancini appears to try and take that extra step and go for the win.

Mancini seems happier to win three games and lose two than draw five.

They're obviously looking to get points on the board and that's why Mancini has been brought in, to turn one point into three.

Although they've lost a couple of games under Mancini, City have got a decent home record - winning four from five under the new manager - where they tend to go for it and attack more.

Against a good side, this can make them vulnerable at the back.

Liverpool specialise in picking off teams on the counter-attack and that's how I see us getting something on Sunday.

Source: Liverpool_Echo