Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain admits the need to keep pace with Premier League leaders Chelsea helps maintain their focus.
A couple of hours before they kicked off what turned out to be a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Arsenal the Reds had seen Thomas Tuchel’s side open up a seven-point gap after their equally-comfortable win at Leicester.
While there is still more than two-thirds of the season to go the necessity not to drop points, having let slip five in their previous two matches, remains pivotal.
“You don’t want to focus too much on what’s going on around you, but of course you can’t be naïve enough not to look at the situation and where you stand,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said.
“You’ve always got that in the back of your mind and that comes with the territory and the pressure of trying to compete for titles.
“If your competitors go and get a good result, get three points, it’s then over to you to go and respond and do the same thing.
“I don’t know if it’s added pressure but it just makes it more real what exactly the job and the task ahead is.
“Of course we were aware of Chelsea’s result and it was crucial for us to get three points but maybe more so after the last few results – we needed that for ourselves to get back to winning ways and a good performance as well.”
You can’t be naive enough not to look at the situation and where you stand
Liverpool’s midfield injury problems mean Oxlade-Chamberlain has started the last three matches, as many starts as he had managed in the season previously.
It was another confident performance from the 28-year-old, whose future has been the subject of some speculation in recent weeks.
“I want to play football, I want to play as much as I can,” he added.
“Whenever you get chances it’s up to you to put in a good performance and help the team to win – and that’s the only way you keep getting games.
“I’ve been lucky enough to get those opportunities recently, I’ve kept my head down, I’ve worked hard for them, made sure I was ready when the time came.
“Now it’s just looking forward and keeping the momentum, keep helping the team to achieve all of our goals.
“Ultimately, your individual goals kind of work hand in hand with that. If you keep working hard, things fall into place, so, I’ll be working hard for that and we’ll see what happens.”
Arsenal arrived at Anfield on a 10-match unbeaten run, showing a marked improvement from their early-season form, and had the chance to overtake their hosts and move into the top four with a victory.
But despite an initially organised and disciplined performance, once they conceded the opener to a Sadio Mane header shortly before half-time, they were completely outclassed as second-half goals followed from Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino and only another impressive display from goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale kept the score down.
“I don’t like learning like that but there’s a lot of learning that we can take from the game for sure,” said manager Mikel Arteta.
“One of the biggest learnings after a disappointing result is focus on the next one. On Monday, we’ll start again, review the match, the things that we should have done better and understand the reason why we lost it.
“Then we’ll correct it and focus completely on Newcastle.”
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