Gerrard rallies Reds to defy odds and go fourth
LIVERPOOL skipper Steven Gerrard has warned his teammates that they simply cannot afford a collapse in the Premier League run-in.
After a disappointing weekend defeat by Arsenal made the race for a Champions League place almost an impossibility, Gerrard believes Liverpool can transform their league campaign. "A few weeks ago, people were writing off Arsenal's season, but their recent performances show how foolish that is. That's what we need to do now," insisted Gerrard.
The Reds have already qualified for the Europa League by winning the Carling Cup, but that win will put them into the early qualifying rounds of the second tier competition, which have a start date at the beginning of August.
Three Europa League places are available to English clubs, allocated in order of importance to the FA Cup winners, the fifth-placed Premier League team and the Carling Cup winners. And Liverpool must achieve either of the first two scenarios to prevent being entered into the competition at the third qualifying round stage.
Those ties take place on August 2 and August 9, which is before the Premier League season begins on Saturday, August 18.
An added distraction will be the Olympics, with a number of Liverpool players in line to star for Great Britain between July 26 and August 11 at the London Games.
So to avoid returning to action less than a month after the final of Euro 2012, Liverpool must finish at least fifth in the league or win the FA Cup.
They are currently in seventh place, five points behind Newcastle in sixth and 10 behind Arsenal who are fourth.
Gerrard said: "We still have plenty of points to play for in the league, but it means we can't afford to drop too many more points between now and the middle of May if we want to get back into the top four.
"Competition for the (fourth) Champions League spot is very tough, but we still have to play most of the teams around us, and defeating those sides will still play a major part in deciding where we finish."