Although they still have a potentially tricky qualifier to negotiate, Jurgen Klopp is delighted to be one step away from leading Liverpool back into the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds entered the final day of the Premier League season knowing fourth place was in their hands, with a win at home to Middlesbrough ensuring they finished ahead of Arsenal. It took a stoppage time Georginio Wijnaldum goal at the end of the first half to calm Anfield nerves, before second half strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana secured a 3-0 success.
So even though the Gunners edged past Everton at the Emirates Stadium, it is Liverpool who have finished in the final Champions League spot. They must now face a qualifier to clinch a place in the group stage, and Klopp believes such a platform should be a regular place for a team with such illustrious history in the competition should be every season.
“Liverpool needs to be there consistently,” he said. “I am not saying we are already. We will be really strong and really fight for it and we want to be there. In the last 10 years Liverpool was not a part of it too often. We should do everything to change this. The step is for us to be around the best teams in the world because we are at one of the best clubs in the world.”
All in all, this was a satisfactory end to the season for the Merseyside club as CSKA Moscow’s win against Anzhi Makhachkala, and Borussia Dortmund beating Werder Bremen, means they will be seeded in the play-off qualifier in August. So instead of taking on Sevilla, Napoli, Ajax or Dynamo Kiev, their most difficult opponents are likely to be Sporting Lisbon or Hoffenheim.
Meanwhile, whilst Arsenal missed out on the top-four for the first time since 1995/96, Manchester City made light work of securing their third-place Premier League finish. Pep Guardiola’s side took an early lead at Watford through Vincent Kompany, and Sergio Aguero would go on to score a brace before Fernandinho and Gabriel Jesus wrapped up a comfortable 5-0 win.