Let’s take a brief look at our next eight Premier League games, and compare the opposition teams of ours with those of the other real and not-so-real title contenders: the current Premier League Top 7.
To start with, let me say this is looking very good. Liverpool’s next eight fixtures look much less difficult than those of Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester United. In this period (week 9 – week 17), we only meet with one Top 7 team, and that is Everton at Goodison Park, to be played Monday evening 19 December 2016. The Reds are up against West Brom (home), Crystal Palace (away), Watford (home), Southampton (away), Sunderland (home), Bournemouth (away), West Ham (home), and Middlesbrough (away) before we have the derby game coming up in the end, just before Christmas.
Ranked just below us in terms of the amount of Top 7 teams the different Top 7 teams are going to face before Christmas, we find Manchester City who is due to meet with two of them: Chelsea and Arsenal, both at Etihad, but they are also going to meet holding champions Leicester at King Power Stadium.
Tottenham Hotspur is coming up against three other Top 7 teams in the coming weeks: Arsenal at Emirates, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and Manchester United at Old Trafford. Spurs are also up against West Ham (a tough London derby) and holding champions Leicester in the weeks ahead.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester United are due to meet four other Top 7 teams in the next eight weeks, all of them. Let’s call that a tough schedule.
Let’s not forget Liverpool have already beaten Arsenal and Chelsea away this season, as well as getting a draw against Tottenham away. Last Monday we played Manchester United at Anfeld – a goalless draw it seemed like José Mourinho was more than satisfied with. Jürgen Klopp was less than satisfied, he would have much preferred a victory and looked abit annoyed when he talked about his players’ lack of consentration in the first half. I believe he felt we should have scored a goal or two in the first half, if not for all that sloppy passing of the ball we saw.
Daniel Sturridge was like crucified on Twitter during that first half. It was said he was lousy, but he never really got a decent pass to work with, and that was what Klopp was hinting at, not Sturridge’s lack of shots, because there was none. Twitter fans went retard, but what can a striker do when the ball never arrives inside the box? Even if Sturridge had been Rush or Fowler, there is no way he could have scored against Manchester United this Monday. There will certainly be a lot of training taking place at Melwood in the coming weeks on what to do when a very good opposition team parks the bus at Anfield. Where to run, how to pass, how to press, how to challenge. Sturridge will be getting more good balls to work with in the next few weeks, there can be no doubt about that.
So what do we make of the control minded, bus parking Manchester United boss? Is Mourinho’s new-look Man United a team that settles for away draws against teams like Chelsea, Swansea, Everton, Crystal Palace and West Brom, while hoping for a goal to win these games by one goal to none?
And what if Mourinho’s United are beaten by Arsenal at Old Trafford, because Arséne Wenger’s attacking force of Sanchez, Özil, Ramsey and Giroud cannot be stopped at all times? It shall be interesting to watch. And how about Tottenham at Old Trafford. Spurs does have fine attacking players like Dele Alli, Son Heoung-Min, Erik Lamela, and Harry Kane who can cause havoc against any team, home or away. Also at Old Trafford.
I am confident Liverpool will be right up there in the Top 3 by Christmas. Jürgen Klopp has a very good squad now, and he also makes it clear that training is all-important to him. When ever he feels a need to say what needs to be said, he does so. And he did so after the Manchester United game that ended with a goalless draw. We should have scored a goal or two. Sloppy passing and a lack of determination in the attacking play, especially so in the first half, made him look a little distressed as he admitted he wasn’t satisfied with what he had seen. The attacking mistakes he had in mind Monday evening after that game are being addressed in training right now, and they will repeatedly be addressed. Two or three times every day apart from match day. It is just a question of time – or should I say moments – before Daniel Sturridge starts scoring goals again. In the first half, and not as he comes on as a second half substitute.
Written by @magneleokarlsen