Sanjay Nair explains why Liverpool will be happy to see the arrival of the second international break of the season after a gruelling run of fixtures.
As we have often seen in the past, fans hate the international breaks in the middle of the Premier League season.
So often have we seen how this hitherto unwelcome break has done exactly that… ‘break’ the momentum that Liverpool would have found in the weeks immediately preceding this break.
So often have we seen players in fine form for the club go and get injured playing for their respective countries. Even the statistics showed Liverpool near the bottom of the 20 clubs when calculating win percentages following this break for many a season.
This time around though, one feels the international break has come as a blessing in disguise. After a historic run of 6 wins on the trot and 7 overall since the beginning of the season, fortunes have nose-dived. No wins in 4 matches that included an exit from the Carabao Cup and all the early season momentum seems to have vanished into thin air.
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The defence maintained its shape, barring that moment of van Dijk madness against Manchester City which did not cause any damage thanks to Mahrez’s penalty being launched into outer space.
Each member of the squad chosen to play at the back has vindicated their selection and one can only pray that none of them get any niggles or major knocks. Such has been their influence in keeping us in the leading pack, any absentees due to injury will be unwelcome after the break.
What is sure to keep the club and fans on tenterhooks is that all of our defenders are important to their respective national squads and therefore will most definitely play.
Liverpool’s hardworking midfield actually look like they need a break from it all for a week. Such has been their contribution since the start and James Milner, in particular, will need the extra time off to recover.
Barring Milner however, the rest should be in action and again one can only hope they come back unscathed as the likes of Keita and Wijnaldum will be needed to provide the much-needed impetus in the middle of the park.
While Wijnaldum has shone throughout, Keita’s energy has petered out after that fantastic debut against West Ham. Liverpool will be desperately looking for him to regain his poise and nifty touches.
Liverpool’s reversal of fortunes has mainly revolved around our Fab-3’s inability to find the net as frequently as they would have liked. Mohamed Salah’s case is the one that has hurt Liverpool the most.
He will not be pulled up for wont of trying but he simply has not been anywhere near his best. Between the three of them, the fabulous front-3 has looked so bereft of penetrative ideas in the last couple of weeks and teams are happy sitting back and denying them space.
A break from the pressures of the Premier League will do each of them a world of good, especially if they are given the freedom to express themselves wearing their national colours.
For a change, most fans would echo the sentiments of looking forward to this international break, albeit with their fingers crossed. Another winning run right after the break will be what the doctor orders to get us all on the right track again.