Liverpool look to ramp up top four bid

LIVERPOOL: In-form Liverpool will aim to move a step closer to qualifying for the Champions League when they host Crystal Palace on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side are on a seven match unbeaten run that includes five wins and has lifted them up to third place in the Premier League. The Reds are sixth points clear of fifth placed Manchester United, who have two games in hand, as the race to reach Europe’s elite club competition enters the final furlong. The most encouraging thing for Reds boss Klopp is his team appear to have learnt how to grind out victories, as demonstrated by last Sunday’s 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.

Liverpool have found life difficult against physical sides for much of the season, and have been particularly vulnerable when defending set-pieces. For both of those reasons, they were expected to struggle at The Hawthorns, yet were rarely troubled by their opponents. Such discipline will be required once more against a Palace side who have beaten Chelsea and Arsenal since the beginning of April.Klopp has made clear that the quality of football is less important now than securing the wins that will ensure a top-four finish.

Liverpool have had to do that without their leading scorer Sadio Mane, whose season has ended early as a result of the knee injury sustained during the 3-1 victory over Everton on April 1. They have also missed the influence of captain Jordan Henderson, whose foot injury means that he has not played since February 11. Asked about Henderson’s chances of playing again this season, Klopp said: “I don’t know. We will have to see. He cannot really train so we have to wait for when he can. “That was always the plan with the medical department. He is not patient any more, I can tell you that. He looks really healthy but nothing has changed.”— AFP