As I wrote earlier in the week, the international break feels interminable at the best of times. When you’re bang in the middle of a title race, however, it feels as though it drags even more than usual. Some people might have enjoyed it, of course. I know that the stress of the possibility of seeing the club win the Premier League for the first time in the competition’s history has meant that there are some out there who were grateful for the breather. I’m not one of them, needless to say. I love watching this set of players engaging in battle every week, finding ways to overcome the obstacles that they’re faced with. Whether it be a low-block defence or a team that manages to take an early goal, if feels as though the lads have figured out what they need to do to get the all-important three points.
Prayer circle for #LFC players on international duty
🕯 🕯 🕯
🕯 players please 🕯
🕯 🕯 🕯
— Heiress_Jacinta 👑 LFC 🔴🔴 (@heiress_jacin) March 20, 2019
The international break bores me because I can’t stand international football. I have no loyalty to any one nation, so my only wish is to see all of our players return home without injury; something that hasn’t always happened in recent years. This time around a number of our lads either had the chance to have a lovely break away to a hot country – hello Mo Salah – or else managed to get themselves on the scoresheet for their country and therefore should be returning to Melwood full of confidence. It’s unfortunate, though, that the first game back is one against Tottenham. Jürgen Klopp’s teams have always struggled to get straight back into their rhythm after a break, with international matches causing just as much of an issue as training camps. With that in mind, then, I expect this to be a tough match that naturally begs the question: are three points vital if we want to win the league?
Everton & United Results Give Us Little Room For Manoeuvre
Jürgen Klopp is a very, very good manager. He knows what it takes to achieve what he wants to achieve and, as Neil Atkinson of The Anfield Wrap has said before, if you view every decision the German has made through the prism of him knowing that we’re likely to need to get close to one hundred points to beat Manchester City then you can see exactly what he’s been doing since he arrived at the club. He’ll be aware that this season has a few more twists ands turns in it before it’s over, including the dropping of points by both sides. I think that he’ll have looked at our remaining fixtures after the defeat to Pep Guardiola’s team in January and figured out where we can afford to drop points and still end up at the top of table when the final game has been played.
📊Liverpool have dropped points against only 1 of their remaining 7 opponents in PL this season (drew v Chelsea & beaten Tottenham, Southampton, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Wolves)
— Footy Bet (@FootydotBet) March 17, 2019
The problem is that I think the manager’s calculations will have probably seen us take at least four points from the matches against Manchester United and Everton, when in reality we only took two. Don’t get me wrong, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done a very good job since he took over from José Mourinho and neither Old Trafford nor Goodison Park are fun places to go to, but we really should have done better in both matches and in failing to win either of them we’ve surrendered the initiative to the Cityzens. It means there is now very little room for error and I think the game against Spurs might well have been one that Klopp will have looked at and thought that a draw would be acceptable.
Points Will Be Dropped Before The End Of The Season
I would obviously absolutely love it if we could make it through all seven of our remaining games without dropping any points, but I don’t see it happening. It would require us to have one of the best runs we’ve had since the 2013-2014 season and I’m not sure we’ve got it in us to do that at the same time as we’re trying to progress in the Champions League. I think Man City will drop points as well, though, so it’s important for everyone to remain calm and sensible when the points are inevitably dropped between now and the middle of May. This is one of the few occasions left this season when dropped points would be forgivable, even if heads will inevitably fall off in the meantime.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are the first #LFC pair to both reach the 20-goal mark in successive seasons since Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish 36 years ago.
They’re also only the fourth duo in the club’s history to achieve it.https://t.co/7dM1o4UIDB pic.twitter.com/oVFiuGYaAd
— James Carroll (@James_Carroll84) March 20, 2019
The next three games are, for me, critical. As much as Southampton haven’t had a brilliant season and sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, St. Mary’s is never a nice ground to go to and we haven’t necessarily performed all that well there in recent times. Their supporters are convinced that there’s some sort of rivalry in play because we’ve given them a huge amount of money for their players, plus it’s on a Friday night so their players will be up for it. Then comes Chelsea and the London club has a penchant for spoiling our fun whenever possible. For me, emerging from these three games with seven points or more will put us in a really good position for the final stage of the season. That means we can afford to draw with Tottenham as long as we win the other two. We won’t know if it’s a good result until we get to the other side, so let’s not throw in the towel if Pochettino’s men cause us trouble on Sunday.