The context around Liverpool's clash with Manchester City on Sunday leaves Philippe Coutinho in no doubt as to the importance of helping his side gain a result.

A point separates the two teams in the Premier League table ahead of their meeting at the Etihad Stadium, meaning an away victory would lift the Reds above Pep Guardiola’s side.

City were beaten 1-0 at Anfield on New Year’s Eve and defeated in both league matches last season, but Coutinho believes the potential consequences of the outcome this time ensures even more is at stake.

“It’s going to be a very important game,” the Brazilian said. “City are one of the big clubs in England, no doubt about that, and right now we are in a race with them for second place in the table. We need to win it.

“After being knocked out of the Champions League they will be even more focused on the Premier League, so we have to be ready. For us, this match is like a final because we have to beat them to move ahead of them in the table. That’s our aim.”

A dip in form during January and February meant Liverpool lost pace in pursuit of the Premier League summit, and Chelsea now hold a commanding lead over their rivals.

But Coutinho sees plenty to play for in the remaining 10 games of the campaign, especially with the reward of a return to Champions League football on offer.

The No.10 added: “The players here are very ambitious and at the start of the season our dream was to win the title. But results have changed things. We are a long way from the top in the league and we are out of the FA Cup too.

“But our challenge now is to finish second in the table and to make sure we are back in the Champions League next year.

“We think we have really serious chances to do that. So we know how important this match is. We know what we can do. This is a club which should be in the Champions League and we want to get there.”