Liverpool’s right in the midst of a run of matches that is the most stark example of a make-or-break stretch for their ambitions. With the set of fixtures, across all competitions, coming fast and thick the plain truth is that, come the new year, Liverpool will know with relative certainty if they will enter 2020 as the presumptive favorites in the competitions they seek to claim.
We’ve talked a lot about the Premier League title and the Reds have managed the first load of matches well enough to ensure that they have kept Leicester City at bay, while Manchester City and Chelsea have both fallen off the pace. In a week, Liverpool have increased their lead over both City and Chelsea by 5 and 6 points respectively. That’s what happens when you play 3 matches in 7 days.
Which is all to say that with even more fixtures coming down the pipeline, there’s still apt to be more movement in the table. Fixture congestion usually means that the table looks a bit more fluid.
Tomorrow, though, Liverpool set their sights on taking the big and necessary step of advancing their campaign to properly defend (and hopefully repeat) as Champions of Europe as they face off against Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League match. The objective is pretty simple for the Reds: win and you’re in.
To that effect, Jurgen Klopp noted during his press conference ahead of the match, that Liverpool as a squad are continuing to practice what they’ve done all year: focus intensely on the task at hand.
“What Hendo said, focus on the next game, nothing else. That’s tough enough because we play every three days, that’s it. But tomorrow night is the most important game in our lives because there’s no other one, that’s exactly how it is. When we’ve played that then we can think about the next Premier League game. But it’s nothing to do with the situation in the Premier League. The situation in the Champions League group is OK, but far away from being brilliant. But it’s a basis we can work with and that’s what we have to show tomorrow.”
The gaffer is, of course, right. A thing I’ve learned a lot is that the only time in our stories wherein we have agency is the present. It can be difficult, of course, to stay rooted in that present. Especially if things are a bit unpleasant. But knowing that we can’t alter the past and don’t know what the future holds leaves us with a pretty simple instruction: focus on now.
Liverpool’s ‘now’ comes in the form of a Red Bull side that gave them fits the last time out. Here’s hoping that Liverpool’s new found rotational balance and the growing confidence within the side can marry with the strong mentality the lads have shown this season. Let’s grind out that win and remind people why facing Liverpool in Europe is a tall order.