Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson accepts it is the players’ responsibility to kickstart the charge for Champions League qualification.
A 2-0 victory over Everton in the 242nd Merseyside derby was the club’s first Premier League win of 2023 and while it still leaves them nine points adrift of fourth-placed Newcastle, there is renewed optimism.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have the perfect chance to reduce that deficit further when they head to St James’ Park on Saturday, and with a match in hand over the Magpies there remains a realistic opportunity of rejoining the race for the top four.
“Only we can make that happen. We get a good feeling from this win, definitely, but the next game is a big test at Newcastle,” he told LFC TV.
“They are flying this season and are unbeaten in a long time. It’s a really tough place to go and play but if we can perform like we did against Everton and more, then you never know what can happen.
“We need to be ready like we were against Everton and if we do that on Saturday then we have a chance.”
Goals from Mohamed Salah, his first in six games, and January signing Cody Gakpo’s maiden strike for the club from close range were enough to see off their neighbours, who failed to hit the heights of their victory over Premier League leaders Arsenal the previous match.
The result was hugely important for Liverpool’s ambitions and Henderson said the significance was not lost on the players.
“We delivered. It doesn’t make up for the last few weeks in terms of our performances but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It was more like us.
“It was a big week for us internally. Training has been very good and we took that into the game, and that’s the most pleasing thing.”
Henderson returned to the starting line-up for the first time in five matches having been kept out by 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic.
The teenager, who was in the Under-18s squad last season, retained his place in the side and produced a polished performance in the heat of a derby battle.
“I’m very impressed. He has been outstanding since he has come into the team,” said Henderson.
“Over the last few weeks, even though the performances haven’t been great, he has been the one that has probably stood out and performed to the levels he is capable of.
“The difference (against Everton) was everybody else stepped up, everybody else performed and when that happens good things can happen.”
Defeat burst Everton’s bubble after new manager Sean Dyche got off to a winning start and they remain in the bottom three.
They face a crucial clash at home to fellow strugglers Leeds, just a point ahead of them and a place above the relegation zone, but for Dyche it is not enough for them just to try to scrap their way to safety.
“The mentality is good, but we have to play as well,” he said. “I said to the players at half-time, we want to work, we want to fight, but you have to play as well.
“That next step is to be brave with the ball not just without the ball. We’ve only been here for a short time and we’ve asked a lot of the players.
“It’s been quite a big change in terms of what we feel is correct going forward. There’s been a lot of information given. I don’t think it just clicks overnight.”