A Massive Next Five For The Reds

There is an extent to which, right now, we’re living in Schroedinger’s Premier League season. Liverpool are nine points off the top and eight behind Manchester City, albeit with a game-in-hand. To all intents and purposes, our season is already dead. Yet whilst we still have to play both the league leaders and Sportswash FC twice apiece, there is always hope. Dead and not dead simultaneously, much like the physicist’s infamous cat. All the manager and players can do is keep plugging away, hoping that the plans that were put in place before the start of the campaign can come to fruition sooner rather than later. Our Champions League dream is also hanging by a thread, having lost one and won one of our opening two games. Though it feels difficult to imagine us winning it right now, that is a situation that the Reds have been in many times before in Europe’s top competition.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jürgen Klopp and his team will have used the last month to look at what’s to come and done their best to figure out a way forward. In some ways, he’ll be feeling relatively relaxed. Though our season hasn’t started as well as he’d have liked, the German will know that the under-lying numbers suggest we should’ve done better than we did. He won’t be planning on throwing the baby out with the bathwater, instead looking to see how we can re-group and go again. The ‘Mentality Monsters’ aren’t dead, they’ve just been depleted for a time and are now welcoming numbers back to their ranks. Klopp will also know that this is a season like no other, with the World Cup in the middle of it offering a curveball like never before. How teams cope with it will be crucial, so he’ll know that if we can keep ourselves within touching distance heading into the tournament then we’ll be ok. With that in mind, our next five games are season defining.

The League Could Slip Away; Or Come Back Into Focus

When we play Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, the game will come 28 days after our last match. Covid-season aside, that will be the longest break that the club has had without a game since 1979. Graham Potter’s Brighton would have offered a particular challenge, yet we can’t be too confident about taking on Roberto De Zerbi‘s team considering how little we know about how they’ll play. On top of that, we don’t cope well with long breaks under Jürgen Klopp, so I’m not feeling as confident as I’d like to be. That being said, it is a home game so I do expect the crowd to play its part. Our next league game after that is against Arsenal, who have only dropped points in one of their seven games so far. The good news, as far as Liverpool are concerned, is that the Gunners haven’t really had to play anyone decent yet and their defeat came to Manchester United. The bad news is that we haven’t had to play anyone decent and also lost to United.

Obviously we can’t count our chickens, especially not when you consider how we’ve played so far this season, but if we defeat them and win our game in hand, we’d be three points behind them, so I’m not overly worried about Arsenal. The next league game after them, though, is against Manchester City. Lose that and we can all but kiss goodbye to any slim chance we have of winning the league. Schroedinger’s cat will have been taken out of the box and the truth revealed to all. Quietly, though, Manchester City haven’t looked all that impressive yet this season. Yes, Erling Harland has looked as impressive as we all thought he would and has scored goals aplenty, but goals aren’t what City have been lacking at any point. He didn’t help them when they drew with Aston Villa and Newcastle, so they are fallible. The question is, will we be the Liverpool that turned up and blew them away in the Community Shield, or the shadow of ourselves we’ve seen the rest of the time?

A Chance To Get The Champions League Back On Track

Steven Gerrard once managing them aside, there isn’t a lot that ties Liverpool to Rangers. The Scottish club are a side that loves the Royal Family and believes in the Union, whilst most Reds would happily see Liverpool annexed from the rest of the country and re-join the European Union. I can already envision Rangers fans singing ‘God Save The King’ and Liverpool supporters booing it, much to the chagrin of the rest of the country. That is all off the pitch shenanigans, though, with what happens on the pitch being key to our success. The Reds are being presented with a double-header against a clearly inferior side, giving us a chance to put six more points on the board and one foot in the next round of the competition. If Ajax and Napoli can take points from each other than that will set us up really nicely for the second-half of the group stage, so we really do need to put the Scottish Loyalists to the sword as convincingly as possible.

Rangers, of course, will have smelt blood from Liverpool’s loss to Napoli and our inability to score the decisive goal against Ajax until right at the end of the match. Not only that, but the Scottish side will also be pretty desperate to prove that football north of the border is every bit as good as what the Premier League can offer. It is a Battle of Britain that we dare not lose, not only because of what that would mean for our Champions League hopes but also because of how we’d struggle to live it down for years to come. In amongst the matches against Arsenal and City, with the prelude that is Brighton, these games are likely to make or break Liverpool’s season. At the end of the next five matches, we will have a better sense of what is in Schroedinger’s box. Lose any of them and our campaign will be all but over. Win them all, however, and we’ll put ourselves right back in the mix for the two biggest trophies in world football.

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