Sadio Mane has cursed Liverpool’s inability to beat relegation-threatened clubs, stating that a top-four finish hinged on consistency.
After a positive start to the season, the Reds’ campaign has faltered in the new year, losing games against Hull, Swansea and Leicester City, all of which are fighting relegation.
In a stark contrast, they have also managed to notch up the best head-to-head record against teams in the top six with eight wins, five draws and no losses.
In fact, Liverpool’s last three wins in the Premier League have came against Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal.
Their ability to beat the teams around them has been hampered by their inability to win games against lower down the table, and Mane believes that Liverpool can’t make the top four while they are inconsistent.
“If you want to get to another level, you have to be consistent,” he told Sky Sports.
“If you see the last few weeks, it has been difficult but we have great qualities in the team.
“If we want to be in the top four, we need to be consistent.
“The most important thing is the reaction. We reacted [to the defeat at Leicester] by winning against Arsenal and the confidence is back now and we are looking forward.
“We are one of the top teams in terms of physicality. Maybe you can say mentality [is the reason for inconsistency] but I don’t think it’s that. We have had bad moments so we have to accept this and look forward.”
Liverpool face Burnley at Anfield on Saturday, the team that provided the Reds with their first shock of the season in August. The Clarets picked up a 2-0 win at Turf Moor, despite Liverpool having 81 per cent of the possession and 26 shots.
And Mane believes he and his team-mates need to learn their lessons ahead of the game.
“We were the better team last time against Burnley because we dominated the game and created chances, but we lost. That’s part of football.
“We are going to take a lesson from it and hopefully the next game will be different. It won’t be easy but we are playing at home.”