Liverpool skipper Henderson: Why we must take Napoli clash seriously

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson believes their Champions League meeting with Napoli is a huge game.

The Reds are already through to the last 16 of the competition.

However, if they can defeat Napoli, they will emerge as group winners and likely get a more favorable draw.

“If someone had told me after our last game against Napoli that we would have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League before the next time we played them I would have bitten their hand off,” he stated in his matchday programme notes.

“This season has undoubtedly been a difficult one for us to date, but reaching the knockout stage of this competition after such a tough start is still an achievement of note.

“To reach this point we have had to win four successive games – two home and two away – against Rangers and Ajax and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Yes, we have much higher expectations and bigger targets, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the steps that we take along the way to where we hope to end up.

“The one idea I don’t agree with, though, is the suggestion that tonight’s game against Napoli is ‘a dead rubber’. The job of getting through to the last 16 might have been done, but I just can’t get on board with the thought that this match is in some way unimportant.

“It might not be crucial in that whatever happens both Napoli and ourselves will go through, but a fixture involving Liverpool in Europe can never be written off as irrelevant.

“Once again we will play in front of a full house at Anfield and you, our supporters, never deserve anything other than a performance characterised by total commitment to the cause. The same goes for the history of this club.

“Every single time we pull on a red shirt we have an obligation to the standards that have been set over the years. To put it bluntly, we don’t get to pick and choose the occasions when we perform for Liverpool FC – playing well always has to be the objective.

“It’s for those reasons – and many others besides – that our recent form has been so disappointing. Everyone has their own views on why this has been the case, with some being more relevant than others, but as players our focus has to be on nothing other than putting things right.”

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