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top four Thiago Alcantara highlights a missing factor for Liverpool as Jurgen Klopp talks pressure

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Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara admits the club’s current Premier League position is their “worst nightmare” (Paul Ellis/PA)

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara admits the club’s current Premier League position is their “worst nightmare” (Paul Ellis/PA)

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara admits the club’s current Premier League position is their “worst nightmare” (Paul Ellis/PA)

The battle to secure a top four finish in the Premier League took a twist on Saturday as West Ham suffered a 3-2 defeat at Newcastle, paving the way for a heavyweight battle between Liverpool and Chelsea to secure Champions League football.

Leicester's wobbles in third position could open up a second avenue to secure a top four finish, yet Reds midfielder Thiago Alcantara has suggested one big factor has been missing for his club this season.

While all clubs have had to get used to the absence of fans, the echoes around a normally buzzing Anfield have been especially chilling and the Spain midfielder thinks that silence has affected Jurgen Klopp's players.

"This year, with the fans missing, the team has needed to find an extra gear to be able to compete," he told Liverpool's matchday programme.

"Everyone wants to continue winning things and scoring goals and this desire is still very strong in the team.

"It's not a case of all or nothing, we need to be intelligent. Playing at the high level we do, we're not blindly going into battle. We'll try to do things better to win the next game.

"I think it's the emotional side for players. Brazilian players bring this emotion on to the pitch - suffering in bad times and highly driven when times are good.

"This emotional aspect is really important, not just for Brazilian footballers but Brazilians in general.

"We're suffering a lot with this in our profession, we've adapted but obviously we really miss the fans."

Meanwhile, Klopp has admitted the pressure is now on for Liverpool to secure a top four finish after their limp Champions League exit against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Liverpool have been outside the top four since early February when a run of six defeats in seven was beginning, and they slipped to eighth before winning their last three in the league.

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Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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With only one goal on the agenda for the rest of the campaign, Klopp's message to his players is clear.

"We just go for it, go and go and go and play our best football," he said. "We are of course under pressure as we want to finish in the top four but we don't know in the moment if we will. We have seven games to prove that and we will try."

Both Liverpool and Leeds will be bidding for a fourth straight league win when they clash at Elland Road on Monday night, with United coming off an impressive victory away to leaders Manchester City last weekend where they played half the match with 10 men.

"We should not forget the opponents we face," Klopp added. "We won the last three and that's why we're still around, still in the fight for the Champions League spots.

"It's clear we have to win football games. It would be best to win all of them, but they are tough opponents and we have to respect all of them.

"We have to win games and put pressure on teams. That's all we know and we will try."

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