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'Champions League is a welcome relief for Liverpool' - McAteer glad of break from Premier League title race

12:14 AM GMT+4 12/02/2019
Jurgen Klopp Trent Alexander Arnold Liverpool 24112018
The European tie against Bayern Munich comes at exactly the right time for the Reds, according to their former winger

Former Liverpool winger Jason McAteer is pleased that the Reds have time off from the Premier League title race, believing that the lack of a game this weekend will help their players recover for key matches on the horizon.

Jurgen Klopp's side do not have any games this weekend following their surprise FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves in the third round, giving Liverpool a chance to regroup ahead of difficult fixtures against Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Title rivals Manchester City have played one more game than the Reds in the Premier League, but are only ahead on goal difference at the moment. They have a busy fixture list with additional games in the FA Cup against Newport County and the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea in the next fortnight, whereas Liverpool only have the league and Champions League to focus on.

McAteer thinks this could benefit Liverpool, who are currently in the middle of a defensive crisis, and will give key players like Dejan Lovren and Trent Alexander-Arnold a chance to prove their fitness ahead of the home clash with Bayern Munich.

"We'll get a bit of time now to get some players back," McAteer told Goal. "I think it'd be more of a problem if it was this Wednesday. It's a big, big game. To go on and beat Bayern would give us confidence.

"It's also a welcome relief from the pressure of the Premier League because the microscope has been on them since the Manchester City game at the turn of the year, where performances probably haven't been great.

"We've dropped points, we've given away a lead, but then I look at Saturday [against Bournemouth] and thought we were back to our best. It was a really, really good performance. It was a massive three points. The crowd played their part.

"But we've got a few days to get players off the treatment table and back into consideration. Hopefully we'll get some big personalities back and have a strong team out against Bayern."

Following that crunch encounter with the German champions, attention returns to the Premier League where Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on February 24. Since replacing Jose Mourinho as manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has recorded nine wins in 10 league games and will be looking to improve that stat against the club's bitter rivals.

McAteer is well aware of the challenge the Reds face in Manchester, but believes it is exactly the sort of challenge that the title contenders will relish.

"It's massive. Man Utd and Liverpool is arguably the biggest game of the season. It's arguably one of the biggest games in the world," he continued. 

"It'll be a tough ask because Manchester United in the form they're in are going very, very well at the minute. They certainly won't want to lose to their arch rivals. I think it's just the type of game Liverpool need. That kind of high profile game. Going into it, our big players usually turn up for the big, big games and it'll be a good game. I'm looking forward to it."

McAteer will line out for the Liverpool Legends when they take on an Ireland XI in a special fundraiser in aid of the Sean Cox Rehabilitation Trust on April 12 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. For more information on Sean’s story or to donate to the campaign visit