Much was and has still been made of Liverpool’s relatively tough start to the new Premier League season. It was made worse, though by the Reds’ own choice, as their first home game was shifted to the fourth fixture of the season.
However, looking at it as it is right now (barring any changes down the line), Liverpool’s fixture list can actually be broken down into five run of games, of which could make or break their season, depending how well they do in each run.
Still, it is important to not look so far ahead, since the fixture changes come in swing later on into the season. We will thus analyse that notoriously difficult first chunk of fixtures, and try to predict where the Reds can be by the end of their fixture against arch-rivals Manchester United.
The Reds have their best shot in recent memory to triumph at the Emirates, with an almost fully fit squad going up against the rather depleted side available to Arsene Wenger. Many a time a point would have sufficed away to Arsenal, but Jurgen Klopp’s men will be hoping to start the season with a real statement of intent and take full advantage of Arsenal’s injury-plagued starting XI.
Burnley away is next up, and has been the case for the last few years now, the Reds will not be able to build upon their opening day triumph, assuming they do win at the Emirates, and stumble to a disappointing draw or even defeat to the Premier League newcomers. In theory, Klopp’s men should be able to overwhelm Sean Dyche’s promoted side, but the atmosphere could prove slightly overwhelming for the Reds and they might have to settle for a disappointing point.
White Hart Lane has proved a happy hunting ground for Liverpool in recent years, but such is Tottenham Hotspur’s resurgence and title challenge last year, the Lilywhites can no longer be seen as pushovers anymore. Spurs could suffer from a second season hangover after their failed title bid, and a point would be the minimum requirement for Klopp if his side are to challenge for a top four place this season.
much-maligned mignolet impressed in klopp’s first-ever lfc game, can he help his side to three points at whl?
The Reds then welcome champions Leicester City to a newly-renovated Anfield in their first home game of the season. The Foxes might struggle a little bit this season with teams figuring their game out better, and Klopp will hope the additional 8,000 odd fans in the brand new main stand will help create the kind of raucous atmosphere needed to push his side to another home win over Claudio Ranieri’s men.
Klopp will then bring his side to the site of his first league victory, and face up against one of the league’s new shiny manager in former Italy boss Antonio Conte. Multiple title winner at Juventus, Conte will hope to have his side up and running by mid-September, while Klopp will hope he can take advantage of this transition period at Chelsea and come away from Stamford Bridge with three points yet again. Likely to be much tighter at the back and more disciplined in midfield, a point would be enough, but the Reds could very well suffer a defeat against a rejuvenated side.
They should bounce right back at home against newly-promoted Hull City, who at the moment are in shambles without major signings and even a man to lead them. The Reds will then head to the Liberty Stadium, another team which looks to have a squad worse than last year, especially with their skipper leaving for Everton. The Liberty has been a tough ground for the Reds in recent seasons, but they should be able to come away with a win in this one.
can klopp end a tough opening run with victory over mourinho’s new club?
Last in this tough opening run is Jose Mourinho’s new club, Manchester United. Having dominated this fixture last season only to lose to a solitary Wayne Rooney goal, Klopp will be hoping for a much more clinical performance from his Reds to avenge that loss. Klopp’s only advantage over Mourinho is how much more settled his squad is compared to the Portuguese, and with games like this settled on the finest of margins, Liverpool fans will hope this will help take the Reds over this year’s big spenders.
With that, Liverpool should, optimistically, have a total of 17 points out of a possible 24. It might be a little out-of-reach, considering how the Reds would be placed close to the top (2nd in last season’s table after 8 games).
Is this too optimistic? Can the Reds really achieve wins at the Emirates and at home against Paul Pogba’s United?
These predictions will be reviewed at the end of this first run of fixtures in the preview of the Reds’ second chunk of (more manageable) fixtures.