Jack Hallows analyses Liverpool’s Premier League fixture list for the 2017/18 season and pinpoints 5 key dates to watch out for.
The 2017/18 Premier League season is here! Well, not quite, but we have at least got the fixture list! While the fixtures – and kick off times – can change over time as TV broadcasts and European and cup football commitments take priority, they do allow us an initial look at the key dates across the upcoming season. Here’s my top 5:
August 12th: “Opening Day” – Watford (A)
We could’ve had an easier start but it definitely could’ve been worse.
The Reds will travel to Vicarage Road on the opening day of the 2017/18 season to take on newly appointed Marco Silva’s Watford side. Every game’s 3 available points are important but a winning start is generally the perfect first step towards having a good campaign.
Last season we got an opening day thriller as the Reds beat Arsenal 4-3 at the Emirates, courtesy of a manic 15 minute period either side of half-time that saw the Reds overturn an initial 1-0 deficit in style. Most importantly, the game provided us with our first proper look at what Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool vision was going to be all about. Thrilling in attack, open at the back but above all; thoroughly entertaining.
The Reds did one better than Arsenal on the day and they managed to continue it across the length of the entire season, finishing one point and one place in the table above the Gunners in fourth spot.
Of course, nobody’s expecting Watford to challenge Liverpool for a top four spot but this is the kind of game that Liverpool frequently struggled to deal with last season. To win a game like this on opening day would be a good early sign of progress and hopefully set a positive tone for the rest of the campaign.
October 14th: Beat the Bus – Manchester United (H)
Games between Liverpool and Manchester United are rarely insignificant affairs and this season the fixture could prove to be massive in terms of the top four. Klopp will also be desperate to finally get one over on Manchester United as it’s the only team who finished in the top 6 last season that he’s yet to record a Premier League victory over.
The German knows how to beat the bus – the Reds did it effectively at Stamford Bridge back in the early weeks of Klopp’s Liverpool career – but he’ll need his players to lift their games far better than they did during this fixture last season. As is expected when Mourinho’s in that mood, the two clubs played out a stale 0-0 draw at Anfield in October 2016 and while United did sit deep and defend, the Reds weren’t exactly on fire on the day.
A long ranged effort from Philippe Coutinho was about the only save that David De Gea had to make on that occasion and Klopp will be hoping that finally, on the third time of asking, his Liverpool side can walk away from Anfield having taken all 3 points from United.
December 13th – January 1st: Congestion Madness
December is always a busy month of Premier League football and it looks as if it’s going to be no different this season.
Between December 13th and January 1st, the Reds will play 6 Premier League games with short turn arounds meaning the only decent break is a week between Bournemouth away on the 16th and Arsenal away on the 23rd. Klopp’s men then have to negotiate home clashes with Swansea on Boxing Day and Leicester on the 30th before travelling to Burnley to face the Clarets on January 1st.
It’ll be a testing period for the German’s side and will truly ask questions of whether he’s added proper depth to his squad this summer. It’s also an area that he’s had trouble in both his campaigns as Liverpool manager so far but despite the congestion, the Reds do have favourable fixtures this time around – aside from the trip to Arsenal perhaps – and should be expecting to take 13 points minimum from the 18 available. Get through this sticky period with a solid total and the second half of the season starts to look very good.
April 7th: ‘The Derby’ – Everton (A)
I’ve decided to go for the April fixture against Everton for two reasons.
The first is that it’s the Reds 6th last fixture this campaign and a win over our city rivals would see us go into our final run of 5 in good form. The second, is because it’s at Goodison.
I personally never have any worries about Everton coming to Anfield due to just how strong we’ve been during home derbies in recent years – Klopp’s record of 2 played, 2 won, 7 goals scored, 1 conceded isn’t half bad either – but at Goodison, you just never know what can happen. The Reds were made to work hard for their 1-0 victory last season as Sadio Mane sealed it with practically the final kick of the game and of course, it always promises to be a spicy affair which leads to risk of injuries.
If the Reds come through the away derby with no fresh injuries and 3 points in the bag, it’ll set us up nicely for a final run of winnable fixtures.
May 5th: ‘A Decider?’ – Chelsea (A)
Could this be a title decider? Probably not, to be honest, I personally don’t think the Reds are quite there just yet – although if we do get our targets you never know – and I’d be very surprised despite Conte’s evident class and the quality in the Chelsea squad if they challenged the second year in a row.
It will likely be, however, a huge match up all the same.
Being the second last game of the Premier League season for both these teams likely means that at least one will still have something to play for, whether it be Champions League qualification or a title bid and 3 points at this late stage of the season is always vital. With a favourable home fixture to Brighton and Hove Albion on match day 38, 3 points against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge would be the perfect confidence boost should the final day require a win like it did this season.