Scott Groom argues that Liverpool’s fixture list from now until Christmas will have a massive impact on the Reds’ chances of being in contention for the league title come the New Year.
Liverpool entered into the latest sleep-inducing international break in very good stead, having come through a rather tricky first eight games of the Premier League season relatively unscathed.
The Reds are joint top of the league, still undefeated and are enjoying their best start to a Premier League season ever.
Having come through tough away ties against Chelsea and Spurs, not to mention the Reds Champions League fixtures against PSG and Napoli, the opening run of fixtures represented a tough start to the season for Klopp’s men.
There does, however, look to be a bit of respite if you like on the horizon. Although the fixture list looks a little more favourable for Klopp’s men between now and Christmas, there are some big games thrown into the mix too – not to mention potential banana skins against the so-called lesser opposition.
Remaining October fixtures: Huddersfield (A) and Cardiff (H).
Probably Liverpool’s easiest back-to-back fixtures (on paper at least) since the season began. Both The Terriers and The Bluebirds have endured tough starts to the season and look like they will be involved in a relegation battle this season.
These are two games that Liverpool should really be looking at picking up six points against – nothing less. If they’re to be considered as serious title contenders, they can’t afford slip-ups against the likes of Cardiff and Huddersfield.
It’s okay drawing to Chelsea and Manchester City, but dropping points to these two would be unforgivable.
November fixtures: Arsenal (A), Fulham (H) Watford (A).
A trio of fixtures against London clubs, with the trips to the capital representing stern tests. Unai Emery has reinvigorated Arsenal who have won their last nine games in all competitions and sit only two points behind Liverpool as things stand – so this could prove to be a pivotal fixture in terms of momentum and in terms of turning the points balance in either team’s favour.
While this will likely represent the toughest test of the month, Fulham will make life difficult at Anfield and Watford have started the season in great form.
Dropping points against Fulham would be a sin, but a draw against Arsenal would be worth the trip to London, and while it’d be frustrating, everything ending all square at Vicarage Road would be merely acceptable.
December fixtures: Everton (H), Bournemouth (A), Manchester United (H), Wolves (A), Newcastle (H), Arsenal (H).
As per usual, December looks jam-packed – but this year, Liverpool’s festive period really needs to bring with it some seasonal cheer. Big games against Everton, United and Arsenal (again!) come sandwiched in between fixtures that again, on paper, Liverpool should be winning.
The big games in and around them make the games against Bournemouth, Wolves and Newcastle even more crucial to be picking up three points from. Although in seasons gone by, these games may have presented problems for Liverpool, their new found tactics and style of play to beat this calibre of team need to be continued.
The more of these games that go by, the bigger the gap could potentially get between Liverpool and the top teams, thus writing off our chances of another serious title challenge for another year.
What’s the phrase? Beat the dross and win the league. If Liverpool can beat the middle of the table teams, playing those in and around them like Arsenal and United (they can dream) or in big local derbies can potentially be okay to draw. Picking up wins in these bigger ties means that the Reds will also further cement their credentials and place at the summit of the league table.
There have been problems in recent seasons, where Liverpool have been beaten by the likes of Burnley, Swansea and Leicester and it has all but killed their title hopes and made finishing in the top four go down to the wire.
While you could argue that no part of the season is any less important than another, this period from now til Christmas really feels crucial. If they can keep up their winning momentum, carry it through to the other games and you’ve got the Reds really purring, and that’s when you could really start to see a title challenging Liverpool team.