In the current climate of Premier League football, every point at the summit of the table matters. The next ten games of Liverpool’s season, though, are particularly crucial.
Starting tomorrow at Watford, the Reds face ten matches before the end of 2018, and their performances in those games could be decisive at the end of the season.
Two of those matches are in the Champions League – against PSG and Napoli. Win at PSG, and the Reds will guarantee a spot in the knock-out stages; fail to win and they might need to beat Napoli by two goals on the final day of the group at Anfield.
Given the Premier League games between now and Christmas, it would have been good to have got the three points against Red Star Belgrade last time out to make qualification a little simpler, but nothing can be done about that now.
In the league, there are no easy games, but the run that comes in the next few weeks looks like a challenge. After Watford, the Merseyside derby at Anfield is next, before consecutive away games at Burnley and Bournemouth.
Burnley have not been as difficult to play against this season – shown by a 0-4 defeat against Chelsea, for example – but playing at Turf Moor on a December midweek night is never ideal. Bournemouth, meanwhile, have started the season very well.
— Simon Humphreys (@SimonHumphreys1) January 17, 2015
After that comes Manchester United at home and then big-spending promoted side Wolves at Molyneux on a Friday night.
Boxing Day sees Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle come to Anfield before Arsenal come to Merseyside three days later.
Not one of those matches will be easy – but the Reds should have no fear. One thing is for sure: a full squad will be needed.
Come out of that run of games within touching distance of Manchester City – who are the Reds’ first opponents of the New Year at the Etihad – and into the next round of the Champions League, for which the draw takes place on December 17, and the period will have been a success.
With news of Sadio Mane signing a new contract and almost a full squad to choose from, there are plenty of reasons to be positive heading into the festive period. With a match every three or four days for over a month, there will certainly be no time to get bored.
The next ten games are set to define this season – so strap in and enjoy the ride.