The English football season is now back up and running following the completion of the FIFA World Cup, but how much work do Liverpool have to do to catch up?
They are currently occupying 6th place in the Premier League, well below their usual high standards.
Disappointing defeats at the hands of Leeds United, beaten 2-1 at Anfield, and more surprisingly, to newly promoted Nottingham Forest, 1-0 at the City Ground, see Jurgen Klopp’s team well off the pace.
This was also peppered with a 2-1 defeat to old rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford, and 3-2 to league leaders Arsenal at the Emirates.
With frustrating draws with Fulham (2-2) on the opening day, Crystal Palace (1-1), Everton (0-0) and Brighton (3-3) seeing them drop a further eight points.
They were hammered 4-1 by Napoli in the Champions League group stages, but a 2-0 reverse at Anfield was enough to scrape through to the knockout stages.
However, Liverpool have also conjured up some stunning wins as well, thus adding to their inconsistency in 22-23.
August’s 9-0 thrashing of Bournemouth equalled the biggest victory in Premier League history.
They also smashed Rangers 7-1 in Glasgow and ended Manchester City’s unbeaten start to the season, coming out 1-0 winners at Anfield.
And before the pause of play, they are currently on a four-match win streak in all competitions, including a tight 2-1 victory over Antonio Conte’s resurgent Spurs.
Arsenal lead the way
Klopp’s men are a whopping 15 points off Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who have shocked everyone by winning 12 of the opening 14 fixtures.
As well as lying 10 points off Manchester City.
But they can gain solace from the fact they are within touching distance of the top four, only a mere four points off Manchester United.
All of this adds pressure to Liverpool as they are the ones needing the wins more than their rivals above them.
They are still in all four cup competitions but the Premier League may well be a stretch too far.
City and Wolves pose challenge to domestic trophy defences
Tonight at 8pm, Carabao Cup holders Liverpool face a very tricky clash against prolific winners of the competition, Man City.
Superstar Erling Haaland has already posted to social media that he is raring to go following his World Cup absence and subsequent vacation.
— Erling Haaland (@ErlingHaaland) December 20, 2022
Although, both teams often need time to get into their stride, if the match does, which I think it might, go to extra time or penalties, that does favour the home side.
After this, Aston Villa entertain Liverpool on Boxing Day, and they have been mightily impressive under new boss Unai Emery.
They have beaten United 3-1 at Villa Park and also Chelsea 1-0 at the same venue.
Therefore, they clearly raise their level against the big teams and are particularly strong at home.
It should be noted, that Emery has a point to prove on his return to English football, after a disappointing spell at Arsenal.
Liverpool will then face old coach Brendan Rodgers and his Leicester City outfit, who themselves have struggled at times this season.
They were bottom of the table before a slight mid-season turn-around.
That match is certainly win-able, although Jamie Vardy also tends to play better against the so called top six sides.
The Reds then travel to face Brentford in their first fixture of the New Year.
The Bees are a match for anyone and recently overturned Man City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
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Liverpool will then round off their festive programme with another difficult tie against Wolves in the FA Cup, under their new manager Julen Lopetegui.
If he has anywhere near the impact that fellow countryman Emery has had, this could be a long afternoon for Klopp’s boys.
All in all, these five fixtures may well make or break Liverpool’s season.
Win them all and they are back in the fight on all fronts.
Lose, and they could be staring down the barrel of a trophyless season.
All to play for.