Liverpool urged to keep Premier League focus as fixture pile-up looms
Liverpool start a daunting run of 13 games in 41 days at Crystal Palace tomorrow that will define their season and, quite possibly, how the Juergen Klopp era will be remembered at Anfield.
The spectacular, and controversial, 3-1 victory over defending champions Manchester City before the international break has left Liverpool nine points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side.
They hold an eight-point edge over second-placed Leicester and are heavy favourites to end a painful 30-year wait for a league title.
The visit to Selhurst Park also starts a sequence of five league games against opponents who appear, on paper at least, not to offer too stern a test for a team that have dropped just two league points all season ― in a 1-1 draw at Manchester United.
Their involvement in the Fifa Club World Cup in Qatar, plus their success in the League Cup, means Klopp has been forced to play two games within 24 hours of each other, over 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) apart.
Liverpool visit Aston Villa on December 17 in the cup quarter-final before they play in the Middle East on the 18th, with Klopp fielding two different squads to cope with the congestion.
The Liverpool boss concedes that the exact nature and logistics of putting out two teams on different continents within a matter of hours are yet to be addressed.
But a number of pundits, led by former Anfield favourite Jamie Carragher, have argued that Klopp should effectively ignore the four cup competitions in which his team are involved this season ― the two domestic cups, Champions League and Club World Cup.