Liverpool already have a title advantage for next season after the Premier League confirmed the start date. It should worry each potential title rival.
The Premier League confirmed on Friday that the new season will start on September 12th. That means there will be around a month-and-a-half between the two campaigns, with the 19/20 season ending on Sunday.
Next season should – if all goes to plan – culminate on May 23rd, meaning a slightly more compact campaign.
Liverpool, however, can head into it with confidence. And not just the confidence that comes from being reigning champions.
A little uncertainty
While the season will commence on September 12th, it may not start then for everyone. Four teams are still in European competition from this season and discussions are underway about possibly delaying their starts.
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Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolves have games next month as they try to clinch European glory. But that pursuit could hurt them greatly.
At the very least, all four of those teams will play into early August. The 5th-8th all feature games with the quartet and so, even if they’re all knocked out, their pre-season will shrink by a couple of weeks.
But Chelsea aside, who trail Bayern Munich 3-0, three of those teams will expect to progress. And if they go far, they could play all the way up to August 21st/23rd, depending on their competition.
That would dramatically cut their pre-season, leaving them with just three weeks to rest and prepare as things stand.
No easy way out
Now, City will likely challenge for the title next season. There’s an outside chance that Chelsea and United do, too. But let’s focus on City as they’re by far the most probable challengers of the trio.
If City get past Real Madrid with their 2-1 lead, they’ll play either Juventus or Lyon. The French side leads that one on aggregate and may well hold on, but we’d expect Juventus to win, given Lyon haven’t played much football since March.
Even if City got knocked out, they’d be training and playing up until August 15th. That’s just four weeks before the season begins. While Liverpool will have had their two weeks rest before pre-season by that point, City would only be coming into theirs.
That’s obviously even harder if they reach the final.
The solution is to push their start-date back and allow them proper rest and preparation. But if that does happen, the already compacted league campaign becomes more difficult to manage.
If they were given the full month-and-a-half as everyone else, that’s a month worth of games that need to be squeezed into their calendar. Their breaks between games suddenly become few and far between.
Liverpool, on the other hand, can start taking their break after Sunday. They know exactly what to prepare for and can plan accordingly.
No matter what happens, the Reds will either have a longer pre-season than City or they’ll have an easier calendar. We certainly would prefer that Liverpool were pushing to retain their European trophy but for next season, their elimination to Atletico Madrid worked in their favour.