Jurgen Klopp has rarely been one to hide his emotions. So mention of this season’s intense schedule provokes a familiar response from the Liverpool manager.
“Life is more challenging than what I ever experienced before and with football it is no different,” Klopp said earlier this month.
“But it’s like Formula One. Everyone can drive a car but it is difficult to drive at 300mph in a pretty close area and then you hope that your brakes work.
“That is pretty much what professional football is – all on (the) highest speed, with highest intensity. And, for that, you have to have the best brakes available.”
Klopp was referencing the fact the relentless nature of this campaign’s programme means there has been little respite from the high intensity fixtures that are seeing an increasing number of his players suffer injury.
The season has been condensed due to the late start to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that caused the previous term to be suspended for three months.
However, that could now work in Liverpool’s favour in light of their defensive nightmare.
With Joe Gomez having joined Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines for a lengthy period, the Reds are almost certain to move in January for reinforcement at centre-back.
They play eight Premier League games before then, and will realistically have to negotiate the trip to Southampton – currently scheduled for January 2 – before any new signings can be introduced.
That would be Liverpool’s 17th league game. By comparison, the same round last year was the Reds 20th – and that was after they’d had to postpone one Premier League match due to their successful involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.
It means the Reds would still have 21 league games in which they could utilise at least one extra centre-back option, should they choose to move in the market.
That’s most than half a season, offering plenty of available points and scope in which to make a concerted challenge with a stronger squad. For example, Liverpool would still have Manchester United to play twice after the transfer window reopens.
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It’s easy to forget the table at this time of year – or, indeed, at Christmas – should be viewed differently. What was a good position in February may be not quite so instructive this time around. After all, fifteen points are available in May alone.
Klopp will know the period between now and the New Year could be one of the most difficult of his Anfield tenure.
But even come January, there is a longer way to go than ever before. Liverpool will dig in until then.