The 1st test of Jurgen’s Squad approaches..
The international break has arrived bringing a screeching halt to the league campaign and allowing Jurgen Klopp and his staff some time for reflection. A time that can allow a little bit of fine tuning to reach the optimum performance levels, so far not on display despite achieving a perfect start to the season with 4 wins out of 4 in the league, something that hasn’t been achieved since Kenny Dalglish won the 1st 8 games in 1990/91.
Whilst Manchester City, the bookies favourites sit 2 points adrift with 3 wins and a draw, it is typical Liverpool luck that they find themselves being joined on maximum points by multiple clubs with Watford as well as Chelsea recording 4 wins out of 4. Heading into the break on top of the pile is a pleasing sight even if it is too early to really judge the league table but following the draws in the week for the Champions League and Carabao Cup, it is fair to say the 3 weeks period sandwiched by international breaks promises to be a very busy one with Liverpool playing in 7 matches across 3 competitions in 22 days.
It is quite clear to see that Liverpool’s credentials and the improved squad depth will be firmly tested with the likes of Adam Lallana, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge likely to be involved at some point during the run of games for spells longer than a 10-15 minute substitute cameo. The first task for the reds upon the completion of the international period is an early kick off in the Premier League away to Tottenham Hotspur who until a 2-1 reverse at Watford had looked to be facing Liverpool, putting their own perfect start on the line. This fixture was meant to have been the showpiece occasion to open the new White Hart Lane but as has been heavily publicised, the situation has now slumped to farcical levels so for a second successive season, a trip to Wembley is about 3 points rather than picking up silverware (but hopefully there will be one or 2 of those trips later in the season).
The Tuesday following that, the Champions League theme returns to Anfield as they welcome Paris Saint Germain and their own front three of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe take to the pitch underneath the lights for what promises to potentially be another fantastic European night in the history of Liverpool. PSG though will be without legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was beaten here in 2005 by a stunning strike by Luis Garica, who will be suspended for the game due to incidents involving him during his final European outing for Juventus.
We may see a number of personnel changes for the league game on the Saturday as Liverpool face Southampton in their 1st Saturday 3pm kick off of the season although Danny Ings will be ineligible to play in the match despite making a good start to his career at his hometown club due to the terms of his transfer with an initial loan deal for the season that will be made permanent in the summer.
Another match where squad depth may well be utilised comes in the 1st of a double header against Chelsea with the Carabao Cup match definitely the least of Jurgen Klopp’s priorities when seeking success this season. The match will take place in the week commencing the 24th September, although the actual date has yet to be published as TV companies and other agencies involved try to iron out the issues that see both Liverpool and Everton drawn at home in the competition with Liverpool’s opponents and their Merseyside neighbours both on television the previous Sunday and both scheduled to play on the following Saturday meaning 1 of those 2 sides may end up playing 2 matches in 48 hours although it could also see the side across Stanley Park hosting Fulham on the Sunday as this is not selected for television and playing the Thursday with the Reds playing 24 hours earlier.
The biggest week of the season so far where you would expect the main core of players to be involved in all 3 matches follows to close off the spell of games with Chelsea hosting Liverpool in the tea time match on the Saturday, which could potentially see these sides putting a 6 game winning run on the line in the league if they both secure victories in the league matches following the break before destination Naples for the 2nd Champions League group game of the season and a meeting with Napoli, a side who were destroyed 5-0 in a friendly just weeks ago but will provide a much sterner test this time around for the team, especially in their own stadium. The next international break arrives following the conclusion of a match with last year’s runaway champions coming to Anfield in the late kick off on Sunday October 7th. Anfield was a scene of horrors for City last year as they lost their unbeaten run in January in a frenetic 4-3 defeat before being played off the park in the Champions League quarter final.
It would be fantastic for Liverpool to record 7 more victories and more clean sheets but it can’t be understated that this is the 1st real test for the squad and the summer reinforcements and it is so far a side who have climbed to the top of the league without really reaching the top form that we know they are capable of and have seen glimpses of it in certain matches last season and wouldn’t this run of fixtures be the perfect time to finally hit that top gear and lay down a marker to those scoffing at the chances of Liverpool actually winning the league for the 1st time since 1990 or lifting a trophy for the 1st time since 2012.