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How Liverpool’s ‘football week of all football week’we define season 



How Liverpool’s ‘football week of all football week’we define season 

Liverpool face three games in a little over a week that will shape their season – starting with Saturday’s trip to champions Man City – but they have an assortment of problems to solve if they want to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Reds’ last Premier League outing before the international break was their 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Bournemouth, an anaemic performance coming against a team they had beaten 9-0 earlier in the season.

That surprise loss also came on the back of a five-game unbeaten league run, including a record-breaking 7-0 home thrashing of Man Utd the week before, which appeared to breathe new life into their faltering season, leaving fans and manager Jurgen Klopp scratching their collective heads as to just how the same set of players could produce two such contrasting displays.

But that setback on the south coast sums up Liverpool’s disjointed campaign so far, one that sees them out of every cup competition and hanging on to hopes of a top-four finish – and with it a place back in next season’s Champions League – by their fingernails.

The problem for Klopp is his side now face “the football week of all football weeks”, as he put it, beginning with a Saturday lunchtime rendezvous with City at a venue where Liverpool have only won once in the top flight under the German, and that was back in 2015, while they have also failed to win any of their 12.30pm kick-offs this season.

That is then followed by an equally tricky looking visit to a revitalised Chelsea team on Tuesday night, before they finish up by hosting league leaders Arsenal a week on Sunday – with both games live on Sky Sports – as the Reds look to keep pace with Tottenham and Newcastle in the race for the top four.

Ironically then, a year on from going head to head with City for the league, Liverpool will once again play a key role in the title race with games coming up against the champions and the leaders, just not quite how their fans imagined it at the start of the season.

If the Magpies, who lead the Reds by five points, were to beat Man Utd, West Ham and Brentford in their next three outings, then that would put huge pressure on Klopp’s team to get results against City, Chelsea and Arsenal or face the very real prospect of being out of the top-four race come April 9.

Then there is the undeniable issue of Liverpool’s away form this campaign, with the ‘Mentality Monsters’ that lost just twice on their travels in the whole of last season having already suffered seven away league defeats – incredibly, they have picked up fewer points on the road than bottom-of-the-table Southampton.

Concerned, yeah,” he said after their latest away defeat at the Vitality. “I see it. With the home games, I think we are top four. With away games, we are not even in Europe. There’s always a reason for the situation we are in.

“We could have had more points at home as well, and maybe should have, but away, definitely. That was a big strength of us in the last years, it made a big difference, but that’s how it is when you are successful.

“When you do things consistently, in the right way, with the quality we have, you have a good chance to get away results as well, but this is not happening often enough. It’s a clear point, to be honest, yes.”

For Liverpool to close the gap on Spurs and Newcastle and grab fourth spot, they will need to produce the sort of finish they managed two seasons ago when they were in a similar hole to now.

On that occasion, Klopp’s side won eight of their last 10 league matches to claim an unlikely third place in the table, but whether this team has the confidence to produce such a winning run is open to question.

In fact, consistency has been a real issue for them this season, with the team managing to follow up impressive home wins over Man City and Man Utd with morale-sapping defeats at struggling Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth

So much so that, to date, their longest unbeaten league run is just the five games they managed in February and March, with former Reds defender Stephen Warnock observing: “This is not the Liverpool of last year or two years ago where the mentality was so strong that if they went a goal up, you thought no other team is going to score against them, they were that strong.”

A lot of comparisons have been made this campaign with Liverpool’s 2020-21 struggles, when heading into April they were also outside the top four and in danger of missing out on Europe’s premier club competition.

That season, the Reds could not win at Anfield while also struggling against the ‘big’ teams, whereas it is the opposite this time around with Klopp’s side having the third-best home record, where they have lost just once all season, including impressive wins over City, United and Newcastle.

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