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Liverpool on cusp of delivering Tottenham and Aston Villa hammer blows and achieving new main…



Liverpool on cusp of delivering Tottenham and Aston Villa hammer blows and achieving new main…

Liverpool face Leicester City in the Premier League and are on the brink of qualifying for the Europa League.

Liverpool need just one more point to effectively qualify for next season’s Europa League.

The Reds are still firmly in the hunt to make it into the Champions League for a seventh successive season. Having been in underwhelming form for much of the season, a run of six straight victories – and an eight-match unbeaten run – means that Jurgen Klopp’s side are now four points outside of the Premier League top four.

Yet the Liverpool manager has conceded on several occasions that it’s unlikely that his side will catch either Manchester United or Newcastle United. Klopp said last month: “It’s not that we started the season and said if we can qualify for the Europa League it would be fantastic, but the season taught us a few things, and that’s absolutely fine. If it’s Europa League, it’s Europa League.”

Not being in the Champions League will be a blow to Liverpool financially. But Klopp is being pragmatic about the situation. The Europa League is better than the Europa Conference League – and not being in a European competition altogether.

And should the Reds earn a draw against Leicester City tonight, they’ll all but be in the Europa League for 2023-24. Teams who finish in fifth and sixth-place in the Premier League will earn qualification, with Liverpool and Brighton occupying the respective berths.

A point at the King Power Stadium will take Klopp’s troops to 63 points. That will see them move six points ahead of seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur and eighth-placed Aston Villa with two matches of the season remaining.

Although Spurs and Villa could finish level on 63 points, Liverpool’s goal difference is far superior. The Reds are currently on +25 while Tottenham are on +6 and Villa on +4. In truth, it is highly unlikely that either a 19-goal or 21-goal swing will occur in the final two games.

Meanwhile, a win for the Reds at Leicester will definitely see them book their spot in next campaign’s Europa League. It’ll also mean that the pressure is cranked up on Man Utd and Newcastle, although the pair will have played one fixture fewer.


A letter to Dan Kay: You cared about Liverpool and its people – and we loved you for it

Dan Kay was a journalist and campaigner who worked tirelessly on causes close to Liverpool, including the Hillsborough Disaster, where he was a fierce advocate for the families campaigning for justice. He died earlier this month at the age of 45.

Caoimhe O’Neill, who worked with Dan at the Liverpool Echo newspaper, has written this tribute to her former colleague and friend.

Dear Dan,

I can’t remember the first time we met, but it would have been in the Liverpool Echo’s office on Old Hall Street. You worked on news and I worked on sport. I also can’t remember us becoming friends. It was just something that happened, without us even noticing.

It felt like I’d always known you. In life, I believe the people we need find us – and we found each other.

When you moved across to the sports desk, we would joke that we were two ships passing in the night. You’d start the late shift at 3pm, just when I would be finishing my early shift. We would talk at the corner of your desk: I loved my end-of-day routine of saying goodbye to everyone and then saying hello to you.

Of course, we talked about football. Liverpool came first but we loved our Tranmere Rovers chats, too. We even met up in the fan park outside Prenton Park the odd time to enjoy a cold beer with your good friend and passionate Evertonian, Steve Kelly. In one of our last chats, I remember you saying how you hoped Everton would avoid relegation.

You loved every side of Merseyside.

I’d bump into you before or after Liverpool games. The best times were always unplanned. We would usually go for a drink. We would always have a hug.

You could talk for Liverpool and I loved listening to your stories. Your football knowledge was on another level. I’d often give you a quick text to ask about something LFC-related, be it the history of a certain chant or a question about a particular player. I’d always get a message back with everything you knew about whatever it was I asked. And you’d never forget to ask me how I was.

You didn’t just talk. You listened. And we could talk about anything. That’s what I’ll miss about you.

There’s going to be a day very soon when I’m writing a piece and I’ll think to myself, ‘Who would know more about this?’. The answer will be you and I won’t be able to ask. And the next time I’m at Anfield, I’m going to be walking through Stanley Park or heading down Walton Breck Road and I’m going to think about you and how I would love for our paths to cross just one more time.

If ever I was alone when bumping into you, I wouldn’t be for long. You always had so many friends and they would soon become mine. That’s who you were. Someone who brought people together.

You cared about the city and its people. You were the first to stand up and call out injustice. Your work as a journalist, particularly covering the Hillsborough inquests, was incredible. It was never just a job. You cared. You got to know survivors and the families of those who were unlawfully killed. Many became your family.

I know how much you loved the late Anne Williams, who lost her 15-year-old son Kevin at Hillsborough. And I know Anne’s daughter Sara was also one of your most cherished friends and will miss you greatly. The picture of you both with Anne’s mural in the background will always be such a powerful image.

Dan Kay with Sara Williams, in front of her mother Anne’s mural near Anfield

And on behalf of all those who cared about you, I want to tell you how loved you are. And just because you’re gone, it doesn’t mean our love stops. We will remember your smile and laugh. The way you carried yourself and made everyone around you feel better. I felt at home in your company. So many people did. I hope you know that.

You had boundless positivity about poor football results. And when bad things happened in the world, you cared. You believed in justice, equality and the power of good. Your heart was kind and as big as the city. There was a place in there for anyone.

I have so many special memories to hold onto and one of my favourites will be seeing you before Liverpool played Barcelona at Anfield in 2019. I spotted you with a can of beer in your hand behind the petrol station. You were asked for a score prediction. I’m pretty certain you shouted “4-0”, but, thinking back, and knowing you, it was probably “5-0”.

That was you, Dan.

Caoimhe O’Neill with Dan Kay at Norwich, on the first day of the 2021-22 season

Another memory I have is from Paris a year ago. It was the night before the Champions League final. It was your 45th birthday. We sang songs on the Metro and drank Champagne in an Irish bar by the River Seine. There was a big group of us. You knew everyone. We kept saying to each other: “These are the days, my friend.” And they were.

I’m not the only person feeling heartbroken that you’re gone. And that when the good days do come, you won’t be here to welcome them. But you will be there – your light, your spirit. We’ll carry it.

The last memory I have of you is when we walked around Birkenhead Park together. We sat on a bench by the lake and shared a giant cookie. We didn’t finish it for all of our talking and you told me to take it home because… well, of course you did. You paid for the coffee, too. I said I’ll get the next one. How I wish there was going to be a next one.

I remember that last hug before you headed up the road to your car. I watched as you walked away, waiting in case you turned around to wave. I never thought that would be the last time.

And even though you are no longer here, I hope you know our friendship will never end. You’ll always be “me mate Dan Kay”.

And those were the days, my friend. They will always be the days.

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