Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool still have 'big chance' of top four finish, pointing to tough Manchester United run-in

Brazilian midfielder keeping the faith, despite defeat at Anfield

Manchester United's tough run-in ensures Liverpool still have a "big chance" of finishing the season in the top four of the Premier League, according to Philippe Coutinho.

Liverpool were beaten 2-1 by United at Anfield at the weekend, their first league defeat since losing to Louis van Gaal's side at Old Trafford in December. The result put the brakes on a remarkable rise up the table and sees Brendan Rodgers' side now five points behind Manchester United and qualification for the Champions League.

However, with United still to play Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, they can be caught according to Coutinho.

"Top four is our target," the Brazilian told the Evening Standard. "Unfortunately, we lost an important game against Manchester United, but there are many matches left and they will still have to play other clubs at the top of the table. We still have a big chance of finishing in the top four."

 

Coutinho has been among those whose performances revitalised Liverpool's season after a tough start in the wake of Luis Suarez's exit. Manager Rodgers has been so impressed he's tipped for the former Inter Milan player for the PFA Player of the Year award - and the 22-year-old hasn't been shy of returning the compliments.

"I am very happy at Liverpool. I've been learning a lot with Brendan Rodgers and from the experienced players in the squad as well.

"He [Rodgers] has always given me confidence since I arrived there. He was very helpful since the beginning. He asks the offensive midfielders to help on marking when we haven't got the ball, and he's been helping me improve on it in every training session.

He added: "My function is to defend without the ball and that is something our team does well: pressuring without the ball. Then, when we’ve got the ball it is easier. That is one of the reasons we are playing well and consequently individually we also improve."

"Sure I have improved from last year - especially on marking as it is something my manager requests from me a lot. I am happy with my form but I know I must keep improving."

"I do think I need to improve on scoring more goals and that is something I am working hard at."

Brendan-Rodgers.jpg
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

 

Coutinho is competing for a starting berth with Chelsea stars Willian and Oscar for Brazil's friendlies against Chile (at the Emirates stadium on Sunday) and France.

Reflecting on Liverpool's title-challenge last season, he is determined to draw positives from the experience: "We started the year with a team not considered one of the favorites and we fought until the very end.

"Of course it was frustrating to not win the title, but it was good coming back to Champions League, to have played a good season and for Liverpool to be respected once again on the pitch."

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