Sunday 24 September 2017

Emre Can nails his colours to the mast ahead of Manchester Derby

Emre Can of Liverpool is tackled by Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield
Emre Can of Liverpool is tackled by Jason Puncheon of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield

Carl Markham

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is targeting maximum points from their remaining matches to secure Champions League football but admits a helping hand from some of their top-four rivals would not go amiss.

Defeat at home to Crystal Palace - as a result of "stupid" defending according to the German international - dealt a significant blow to the Reds' aspirations of returning to Europe's elite club competition as it opened the door for both Manchester United and Arsenal, with matches in hand, to catch them.

But with both chasing clubs facing away derbies this week Can admits Manchester City, currently one place below Liverpool in fourth, and second-placed Tottenham could do them huge favours.

Notwithstanding that, the midfielder is confident winning their last four matches should take care of business regardless as that would give them 78 points - which only once (in 2013/14) in the history of the Premier League has not been good enough for Champions League qualification.

"Everyone is very disappointed because we should have won this game. We had the chances. It was stupid from us," Can said.

"All the set-pieces in training we had done very well but again we concede a goal after a set-piece. It was stupid.

"We can be disappointed after the game but from Monday we have to look forward.

"We have got to go again and it is still in our hands. If we win the last four games, we will reach the Champions League. That has to be the target. It has to be.

"Some of the other top teams will play against each other and we will give it our best."

Asked what result he wanted from Thursday's Manchester derby, Can added: "Is a City win the better result (for Liverpool)? Then I am for City.

"One of the top teams will drop points and that is a good thing. We have to be there and in the next game against Watford we have to win again."

Liverpool are likely to have midfielder Adam Lallana back for the trip to Vicarage Road after a month out with a thigh injury sustained on England duty.

However, with captain Jordan Henderson, forward Sadio Mane, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings and defender Ragnar Klavan all currently sidelined Jurgen Klopp's squad is looking threadbare.

"You can say that because when you look at the bench it is very young," added Can, referring to the naming of Rhian Brewster, who has only just turned 17, alongside fellow teenagers Ben Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez as substitutes against Palace.

"We miss a lot of our players, there are a lot of injuries. You should look at Chelsea. They are lucky with that, for example.

"We don't have luck with this but it is no excuse. We have to go again. We have to fight for our target."

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