Belfast Telegraph

Enrique still hopeful of top-four place

Defender Jose Enrique admits Liverpool have to be realistic about their chances of qualifying for the Champions League but they have not ruled out making a late run into the top four.

The Reds trail Arsenal by 10 points with 10 matches remaining and their hopes of overhauling that gap appear remote despite a morale-boosting 3-0 victory in the Merseyside derby on Tuesday.

"We have to be realistic about the Champions League and we are 10 points behind so it is going to be really hard. But we are still trying because the league hasn't finished yet," said Enrique.

"All season we have not put together regular wins. If you look at Arsenal at the start of the season they did not win their first three games and everyone said they were bad.

"Now they are one point behind (third-placed) Tottenham. We are like that. I know Champions League [qualification] is so difficult but there are still many points to play for and if we play like we did against Everton you never know."

Before they can think about reducing the deficit in the league Liverpool have a more important FA Cup quarter-final tie at home to Stoke on Sunday. Having been to Wembley once already this season to win the Carling Cup, the club's first trophy for six years, Enrique is keen for a swift return.

"I think everyone enjoyed going to Wembley a lot," said the £6.75million summer signing from Newcastle. "To win a trophy in my first season here was amazing and we have a big chance to do that again.

"There are two games to play to get to the final and we have a good chance. It is difficult to play against Stoke, they are a real English team - they kick the ball all the time to their striker and we have to be careful at throw-ins and corners."

The Merseyside derby win gave the team a necessary lift after losing three successive league matches and Enrique knows they have to build on that in both competitions they are in. He said: "We got a good result but in many games we deserved more this season.

"But when you don't win you don't care how you win - what is more important is the three points. But I don't think we have played badly this season; against a lot of teams we have played well and we have been unlucky with the goals. If we can play like we did against we can beat anyone."

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