33 hours and 30 minutes. At the time of writing, that is the time remaining until Liverpool’s opening game of the 2017/18 Premier League season. After nearly 12 weeks of increasingly skittish anticipation, the day is finally — almost — here. What shame it would be, then, if the Reds turn in a flat performance, ending their first match in an anticlimactic or, even worse, disastrous manner. The kind that immediately dents the faith of players and fans alike, and calls into question all the conceptions we have of the season to come.
There is no doubt that even though opening day contributes a maximum of three and a minimum of zero points, exactly like any other fixture, it packs a more powerful psychological punch than most other matchups. Fans will debate the merits of facing low- or high status teams ad infinitum, but in the end it all comes down the score when the final whistle is blown.
Emre Can is well aware of this, and is raring to get Liverpool’s season off to a strong start.
“It’s important [to win on the opening day], I think, because you get a good feeling for the season,” the 23-year old told the official site on Thursday. “I think Watford will be a very difficult game because it’s never easy to play there but we have to believe in ourselves and play our football, and then we can win the game there.
“Last time it was very tough,” he continued. “We won 1-0 and I remember in the last minute they hit the crossbar and it was nearly a heartbreak for me! I hope of course that we will win the game, that’s the most important thing in the first game.”
Can would naturally remember the Reds’ May Day win at Vicarage Road, as it was he who won the match with a spectacular overhead kick. With Philippe Coutinho ruled out of the match with a back injury, it appears likely that Can will get the chance to put his mark on the game once again.
What kind of Watford the Reds will face in uncertain, however. Manager Marco Silva — who had Liverpool’s number with Hull City last season, but was unable to keep the Tigers up — has taken charge, and brought in, among others, Derby midfielder Will Hughes and Burnley striker Andre Gray, quality players who will themselves be looking to get off to a strong start.
“It’s difficult to say how they’ll play,” Can commented. “Because they have new players and it will be interesting to see who plays and how they play. It’ll be an interesting match.”
“Interesting”, huh. This writer leans more in the direction of nerve-wracking.