Liverpool face arguably the biggest game of their season in one week against Manchester United. Here’s how things look as we prepare for it.
Liverpool are in awful Premier League form. They have two points from a possible nine over their last three games, scoring just once.
It’s seen them remain top of the league, miraculously, but they’re no longer favourites. Manchester City can go top if they win their games in hand.
The Reds did get back to winning ways against Aston Villa on Friday, though. It was against a youth team, in truth, but Liverpool at least corrected their rhythm.
Sadio Mane scored twice and Mohamed Salah once – exactly the players Liverpool needed among the goals.
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Perhaps the biggest bonus of the Villa game was who got significant minutes. Thiago played 45, James Milner played 90, both Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got time in the second half.
Those are four players who needed match fitness and all four got it. It means we can be quite confident about them for next week.
Thiago, in particular, looks like he’s finding a groove. Shaqiri impressed, as well, and we’d certainly have him come off the bench next Sunday.
So we can sum it up like this: the injury crisis is easing up for now.
What we’re waiting for
The next nine days are about one thing: can Joel Matip get fit?
Rhys Williams slipped up against Villa and it reminded us all that Liverpool really need Matip back. Mind you, we said the same ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.
But if Liverpool want to defend the counter-attack as best they can, they’ll want a Matip/Fabinho pairing.
Jurgen Klopp says Matip might be fit for the game. Hopefully, Liverpool can find some fortune there.
What the game means
The Manchester United game is the biggest of the season. We see little doubt about that.
Lose and Liverpool receive a massive knock at the worst-possible time. It would turn a slump into a disastrous run of form that includes defeat to the wrong team.
But win and everything looks rosy again. We’ll quickly forget about the poor results and Liverpool would gain momentum as players return to fitness.
That’s a combination that should carry them through their stride over the next few months. Particularly before Diogo Jota returns.
The break before this one should be appreciated. It’s a massive game and Liverpool must be at their best.