Football fans love any excuse to predict and prognosticate. The anticipation before the start of a season, the beginning of a game, or the signing of a new player - along with the discussions that go along with these predictions - hold as much appeal for many fans as the game itself. One needs look no further than this site's multiple-part season prediction series for evidence.
A classic avenue for these forecasts is the release of the fixture list in the summer. Fans and pundits alike will do their best to construct the narrative of the upcoming 9-month season based on the sequence of matches, then either gloat incessantly at their bullseye hits or delete their social media profiles on account of their abysmal failures. Thus, when Liverpool were confronted with the reality that their season would begin with traveling to Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, as well as play host to reigning champions Leicester within the first five fixtures, the reigning narrative was that the Reds would be likely to trail the top teams by the end of September.
Manager Jürgen Klopp - having just completed his first pre-season with the club he took over in October last year - is, predictably, not one for such ventures, and he certainly won't worry about it:
"We can’t change it. If you look for excuses before you start the season then you have a problem.
"It makes sense to have a bit more time for the new stand to be completed. That’s why we asked Burnley to switch the game to their stadium. We’ve known about this situation for a while.
"We take it like it is. You have to play all of them home and away at some stage. We start with three away games so that means later in the season we will have some home games in a row.
"Of course the start is difficult. It’s not just away, it’s away at Arsenal. Second game, a team who were promoted last season, on a high with a great atmosphere. Then Tottenham.
"It’s not easy but the Premier League is never easy. I haven’t thought for a second about it. I only think about the teams we play, not where we will play. We will be ready."
A very Klopp answer, that, with disdain for the media's compulsive search for narrative seeping through every pore. He's right, of course, as the only thing that matters at the end of the year is how many points you've taken and how many goals you've scored; the sequence in which you do so is immaterial. Nonetheless, starting the season off on the right foot by beating title contenders and perennial thorn in Liverpool's side, Arsenal, would certainly send a message to the rest of the league that Klopp's Reds are to be taken seriously this year.