Liverpool’s next three fixtures can’t afford any mistakes – they may be the most ‘must-win’ games of the season.
The Reds are coming off what we labelled a season-defining period of seven games. There, Liverpool faced a run of games that could all have feasibly led to dropped points.
They faced all four teams below them right now – Leicester City, Chelsea, Manchester City, Sheffield United – as well as seventh-placed Manchester United. Their other two being at home to Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur and then Aston Villa.
And somehow, Liverpool came through that with only two dropped points and an eight-point lead. Pretty staggering stuff.
But now things are back to ‘normal’. They face Crystal Palace, Napoli and Brighton after the international break and they can’t really afford to lose any.
Because things get pretty crazy after that. Liverpool will have at least nine games in under a month – 10 if they make the Club World Cup Final. No right-minded person expects 10 victories there, especially when two of the games take place in under 24 hours. Then factor in that one game is the derby and another away at Leicester.
Liverpool’s fixtures over Christmas makes it virtually impossible to maintain form and every fan should be prepared for slip-ups.
And with that in mind, they simply must win these next three. They can’t afford to be dropping points in the league in either game, knowing that they could lose that eight-point lead over the next month. They also need to beat Napoli, or else they will need to go to Salzburg next month needing to avoid defeat just to qualify.
The pressure has been up over the last two months. But it’s going to be right at the top over these next three games.