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Here Comes the Fixture Congestion

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Another holiday season leads to January bloating.

It's been two full weeks since the last Liverpool match. Is your body ready? Because on the back of this unexpected winter break, and with the two postponed matches scheduled for January (Blackpool willing), we're looking at some scheduling backlog and two matches a week to hold our attention for the next little while.

Which is all well and good because football. But might not be so good because an extreme aversion to squad rotation could mean multiple appearances by the "b team" or Gerrard and Torres breaking down as they are wont to do when overplayed because hamstrings and groins and two games a week on rock hard pitches in sub-zero temperatures*. Of course, that they both just unexpectedly got a few oddly low-key weeks for a Premier League player mid-season might let them survive this stretch and not break down until it catches up with them when the weather starts to get warmer.

In any case, seven top flight fixtures and that FA Cup draw at Old Trafford loom, and it might be enough to sort out just where Liverpool's final resting place is under Hodgson. On paper, at least, despite the frequency of the games, there are a great deal of points ahead that any Liverpool side should expect to take--twice against lowly Wolves, worst in the league on current form; the rescheduled Blackpool and Fulham matches, even if the home showing against the Seasiders wasn't an acceptable display from a side loaded with internationals; not to mention Bolton and Blackburn lining up for their second go rounds, again offering examples of games that in theory should see Liverpool gunning for three with a high probability of success. That just leaves a tricky local derby in the league and United in the cup as matches one might not reasonably expect Liverpool to take all the points from, even if they're likely the matches one would want to see won the most.

And of course all that ignores that what we can "reasonably expect" has been driven hard into the ground by Hodgson & co. in an attempt to lower our expectations to levels that are, quite frankly, unrealistically pathetic for this club and, perhaps more importantly, the actual squad in question.

How long he feels he needs to be given before people can properly judge him has kept accordioning out as he keeps failing to pass muster at each mile marker he's set, and I think we're mostly all in agreement that the sooner we get a good, long-term replacement the better. Still, this next packed month, with so many winnable matches, may settle once and for all Liverpool's ambitions for the year, because if January ends with more draws than wins it will all but guarantee the mid-table finish we've been wobbling towards all season. If there is a chance of Hodgson "steadying the ship" and giving us a chance at Champions League football, then as cliched as it sounds, this next stretch will either make it or break it:

Dec 29 - League - Liverpool v. Wolverhampton
Jan 1 - League - Liverpool v. Bolton
Jan 5 - League - Blackburn v. Liverpool
Jan 9 - FA Cup - United v. Liverpool
Jan 12 - League - Blackpool v. Liverpool
Jan 16 - League - Liverpool v. Everton
Jan 22 - League - Wolverhampton v. Liverpool
Jan 26 - League - Liverpool v. Fulham

So, are you ready for some football?

*Yes, I said "rock hard," "groin," and "Fernando Torres" in one sentence there. You're welcome.