Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool have 'big fight' to finish in top four
Last Updated: 24/04/17 12:40am
Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool's defeat by Crystal Palace will have given Manchester United a "massive lift" in the race for the top four.
Crystal Palace's 2-1 win at Anfield means Liverpool are just three points ahead of fifth-placed United in the Premier League, having played two games more.
Former Reds defender Carragher had backed Liverpool to secure a qualification spot for next season's Champions League ahead of Sunday's game, but believes the trailing pack now have the advantage.
"I think Liverpool are in a big fight now - Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal are all in there," Carragher told Sky Sports. "Before today I fancied Man City and Liverpool to make those top-four spots their own but Man Utd will have had a massive lift today and then seen Liverpool's result; Arsenal, too, after reaching the final [of the FA Cup].
"Those two will now have massive belief they can make the top four. Other sides have games in hand and I think it's 50-50 now for Liverpool."
Defender Dejan Lovren was beaten for pace by Yohan Cabaye high up in his own half as the Palace midfielder set up Christian Benteke for the Eagles' first goal.
Liverpool then conceded their seventh goal from a corner in the Premier League this season when Benteke was left unmarked in the six-yard box to head home with 16 minutes left to play.
Carragher said: "What went wrong? I think you're looking at the same problems we've spoken about all season - centre-backs and set-pieces.
"Dejan Lovren's involvement at both goals; both times he tried to jump in to nick the ball - Jurgen Klopp spoke last week about playing 'adult football' but he's one of the most experienced players in the squad.
"Read the situation, don't dive in, hold your position - he got it wrong on both occasions."
Liverpool's only shot on target was Philippe Coutinho's first-half goal, which came courtesy of a free-kick, and Carragher believes Liverpool are suffering from a lack of variation.
"It's disappointing," he said. "When a team comes to do a job on them, they find it very difficult; there aren't a lot of options and they've got similar types of players.
"There's no winger in the ranks without Mane, and even he comes inside. There's nothing to stretch the play. I was critical in commentary about the lack of changes from the bench; give Palace something to think about it, try to stretch the back four. Changes were only made when it was 2-1 and that was too late."
Former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness has backed United as favourites to finish ahead of Liverpool following the loss to Palace.
"Liverpool were never on easy street but that's put them under a lot more pressure," he said. "They can't afford any more slip-ups. This was never going to be an easy game - there are lots of warriors in there and it's typical of football that Benteke comes back to haunt them.
"They've lost momentum. They're no longer favourites to finish in top four. I think Jose Mourinho will really fancy it. Regardless of what he's saying, I think he thinks he's got a group of players who are really digging in and can get that fourth place, as well as to the Europa League final."