Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Slip-ups not on our minds
As Liverpool enter hectic period, Oxlade-Chamberlain says it's irrelevant to be mulling over 'what ifs'
The S-word again hangs over Liverpool's latest English Premier League title dream.
No matter how formidable they appear, that familiar foe will still return to haunt them.
It always does.
"Slipping up" entered the lexicon of Anfield's hard-luck story a long time ago, but could make an unwelcome reappearance with the visit of Everton tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
A rare glimpse of mortality risks seeing the commanding lead that Juergen Klopp's unstoppable charges have built up this season rapidly unravel for a second campaign running.
But what remains out of sight is still out of mind in the European champions' dressing room.
"I don't think that should even cross our minds," midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain told The New Paper.
"We've got to make sure that every time we go into any game with 100 per cent confidence in ourselves, what we do and the plan that the manager sets out and we're there to win.
"For me to stand here and think about slip-ups is not the right way to be thinking at this point in the season.
"I don't think it's crossed my mind. It won't have crossed any of the boys' mind.
"People will talk and say 'what if this could happen, that could happen...' but, to be honest, it's all irrelevant to the future. Who knows what's going to happen?"
In an earlier interview, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher told TNP that he expects the Reds to start dropping points. It could even happen in the Everton game, which marks the start of a hectic run of nine games in a month.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain believes even if that happens, it's just a matter of picking themselves up again.
"That's one thing that we're not concerning ourselves with for sure; slipping up and who it's going to be against," he added.
"If that day comes, where we have a bad result, then it is what it is. We've got to go again and find a way to rectify it.
"You never go through a season usually without a slip-up or a result where you'd want to win and you draw. You can't predict these things, so you've got to be ready for all situations.
"To be thinking at this point where could that be, you're already onto a losing mindset."
Motivation on both sides of Stanley Park is two-fold. Another victory over their local rivals would solidify the Reds' credentials to banish 30 years of domestic hurt.
Everton, meanwhile, can ease the pressure on manager Marco Silva by ending their own two-decade Anfield hoodoo.
The Toffees are just two points above the relegation zone, after losing five of their last eight games in the English Premier League, the most recent being a last-gasp 2-1 defeat by Leicester City on Monday morning (Singapore time).
A wounded animal is often the most dangerous and Everton's dismal form is by no means a guarantee of the hosts extending their current unbeaten run of 15 games in all competitions.
In successive weeks, Liverpool have survived scares against both Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion, emerging with 2-1 victories.
But they will be missing two key players for the Merseyside Derby - goalkeeper Alisson, who is serving a one-match suspension and midfielder Fabinho, who is facing a six-week lay-off due to an ankle injury.
RESPECT OUR OPPONENTS
Oxlade-Chamberlain is increasingly aware of the challenge that teams outside the EPL's top six can pose in a run that takes them up to the season's midway point.
"Everyone can cause problems," admitted the England international.
"The game at Palace, I'm not sure where they are in the league, but it was a really tough game and we knew... they can hurt us on the counter-attack.
"So we go into every game making sure we respect the opposition and don't take our foot off the gas, whether we're playing Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or a team down nearer the bottom of the table.
"The manager makes sure that we make it a difficult day for them as much as possible to try and stop them causing us problems because everyone in this league can."