Simon Mignolet has warned that Liverpool must brace themselves for a long-ball barrage until the end of the season.
And Reds keeper Mignolet – who proved a hero in the weekend win at Stoke – believes his team’s Champions League qualification hopes will ultimately rest on their ability to withstand the set-piece storm heading their way.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have frequently been undermined by their inability to defend free-kicks and corners, and a run-in which on paper looks relatively easy will in fact test them to the limit, with visits to West Brom, Watford and West Ham, as well as an Anfield scrap with Crystal Palace.
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Jurgen Klopp speaks after Liverpool win over Stoke
All those sides are painfully well-equipped to cause maximum damage to Liverpool’s top four hopes, and Mignolet believes he and his team must now show the same courage which brought Saturday’s dramatic comeback victory to deliver their European dream.
“We are going to face these kind of games for the rest of the season with long balls into the box, we have to deal with corners, and that is what we have to learn,” he said, bluntly.
“We have to grind out results and that will be the case until the end of the season. We want that Champions League spot and we will have to do it like we did at Stoke – I think we will take a lot of confidence from that.”
Liverpool sit third, and have by far the easiest run-in of any side at the top end of the Premier League.
But their Achilles’ heel has always been against the more-direct teams that can exploit any set-piece weakness, so even though they play opponents from the bottom half of the table – with the exception of the eighth-placed Baggies – they still face a massive challenge.
And the irony is not lost on Mignolet that his side must show they can win ugly to ensure they get into a competition which is home to the exact opposite of that style of football.
“It is about making sure Liverpool gets in the Champions League, because that is where it belongs,” he said.
“We have to fight both in England at the top and in Europe and that is what we have to do as a team. We will have all different match winners between now and the end of the season.
“We have done well to get four points out of six in a short space of time with the injuries we have, but we need to keep it going – we are in a good position but it is not finished.”
Liverpool also confirmed forward Sadio Mane will have surgery in the next 24 hours on damaged knee ligaments, and that the procedure will likely keep him out for two months – ending his season.
The Reds, meanwhile, have been linked with a move for Italian side Atalanta’s exciting midfielder Franck Kessie .
The 20-year-old is already a full Ivory Coast international, and regarded as one of the most promising talents in European football.