Five moments that helped Liverpool secure fourth

Liverpool finished the season with two big wins, 4-0 against West Ham United and 3-0 against Middlesbrough, to secure a top four finish.

But how did they secure that top four spot over the course of a season? Well, superb moments and performances including brilliance from Phillipe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, Emre Can and of course, Jürgen Klopp. Let's take a look at some key moments. 

Coutinho’s Free-Kick

Going chronologically, the first big moment of Liverpool’s securing a top four spot came on the opening day of the season, in fact with Liverpool’s first goal of the season.

After a promising pre-season, Liverpool were getting taken apart by Arsenal, and were looking fortunate to be going into half time 1-0 down after Simon Mignolet had saved a penalty. But with almost the last kick of the half, up stepped the little magician as Phil Coutinho scored an absolutely absurd free-kick to level the scores. Liverpool came out like a house on fire second half to win 4-3, but it was Coutinho’s moment of majesty that set the ball rolling. Fast-forward nine months, and a Coutinho free-kick would be crucial to Liverpool’s final day victory.

Mané madness

Sadio Mané has provided Reds fans with plenty of reasons to love him this season. His wonderful goal against Arsenal kicked off his own brilliant season but the goal that will live longest in most Liverpool supporters’ memories is a crucial 94th minute winner at Goodison Park. A wonderful moment for many reasons – Dejan Lovren emerging from the mist, “Merry Christmas Everton”, and of course the infamous “Then you went and wasted all of it on Sadio Mané” tweet – ultimately those two points could well have been the difference between 4th and 5th for Liverpool. The fact that he scored a wonderful goal against Everton after Christmas didn’t hurt either.

Emre pulls out the stops 

A goal and performance that perhaps have flown under the radar, but Emre Can’s match-winning enterprise against Burnley in March proved to be a huge turning point in the Reds’ season.

Having comprehensively beaten Arsenal, just as they had Tottenham a few weeks earlier, the Reds ran up against a Burnley side determined to grind out a result at Anfield. It was the game that signalled Liverpool’s grittier shift to grinding out results against low block sides and gave the Reds their first win against opposition outside the top six in 2017 and laid the groundwork for the tough away wins that followed. But it would have very different had Emre Can not casually stuck the ball in the bottom corner from 30 yards out and then knee slid in front of the Kop.

Klopp’s subs save face at Stoke

At the time, the second half against Stoke City looked like one of the defining moments of our season. 1-0 down at half time, without an away win in 2017, and our starting XI nowhere near up to the task, Klopp was forced to turn to half-fit Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to save the day, despite not knowing if they’d last the second half.

The rest of course, is history. Both scored, Firmino’s goal an absolute screamer, Mignolet made the save of the season, and somehow Liverpool walked away from the Bet 365 Stadium with all three points. Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing that if the Reds made top four, that second half would be on a list like this one.

Can saves best until last

Okay, hands up who had an Emre Can bicycle kick winning goal of the season and getting Liverpool top four? After Crystal Palace handed Liverpool their second defeat of the season at Anfield, Liverpool’s fate was out of their hands, and it looked as if top four might slip away.

Yet, with both Manchester United and Manchester City slipping up, and Arsenal getting thumped by Spurs, Liverpool went to Vicarage Road knowing a win would put them back in the driving seat. Even with Adam Lallana back, the Reds just couldn’t break down Watford, until Can scored not only Liverpool’s goal of the season, which would have been impressive in itself given the goals scored by Coutinho, Firmino, Mané and Jordan Henderson, but the Premier League goal of the season, with one of the best bicycle kicks the league has ever seen. Liverpool won the game 1-0, ground out a frustrating 0-0 draw with Southampton six days later, and then thumped Boro and West Ham to secure top four.

Whilst there are certainly other key moments in the season, moving top of the table with a 6-1 demolition of Watford, scoring off a free-kick to out Tony Pulis Tony Pulis at the Hawthorns, and of course winning at Stamford Bridge, these are the five moments that stand out as being the ones that proved the difference in Liverpool making the top four. 

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