Philippe Coutinho says Liverpool will treat Sunday's match against Manchester City as a cup final as they aim to boost their hopes of a top-four finish.
Jurgen Klopp's side visit the Etihad Stadium knowing that a win would lift them above City in the Premier League, having played a game more.
Although their hopes of closing the 14-point gap to leaders Chelsea appear remote, Coutinho knows a win over Pep Guardiola's side could be a crucial step towards securing a return to the Champions League next season.
"It's going to be a very important game," said the Brazil international, as quoted by Liverpool's official website. "City are one of the big clubs in England, no doubt about that, and right now we are in a race with them for second place in the table. We need to win it.
"After being knocked out of the Champions League they will be even more focused on the Premier League, so we have to be ready. For us, this match is like a final because we have to beat them to move ahead of them in the table. That's our aim.
"But our challenge now is to finish second in the table and to make sure we are back in the Champions League next year.
"We think we have really serious chances to do that. So we know how important this match is. We know what we can do. This is a club which should be in the Champions League and we want to get there."
great goals against Manchester City! March 18, 2017
Liverpool have won their last two league games, following up a 3-1 win over top-four rivals Arsenal with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Burnley at Anfield last week.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet praised his side for coming from behind to win that match through "old-school English football", but he expects a very different test against City.
"The next two games are very big: Man City and then the derby against Everton after the international break," he told the Times of India. "They will be different games compared to Burnley and we have to be ready. There are still things we want to achieve.
"We need to show consistency. We knew before Burnley what everyone was saying about how we didn't manage to get results against the lower teams who play a different style of football compared to the top teams.
"Although we went behind, we fought back by playing old-school English football. We reacted well and we fought for everything. So now we go to City with confidence. We know it's a different game when you play against a top team, who let you play football and we'll be ready.
"It's a different kind of game when the ball is on the floor."
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