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Liverpool and the International Break Effect—It’s All About Timing

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A comparative look at Liverpool’s 2017 start vs 2018 and the effect of the international break.

Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Over the years, many football club managers have lamented about how international breaks interfere with momentum, especially during the first few months of the new season when there are three (September, October and November) before the end of every year. Jürgen Klopp however, is not one of those managers.

In an interview in November 2016, shortly after an international break, he had this to say about momentum:

Momentum is something you can talk about after the game and then we can say we have to use the momentum again, but nobody knows how it works. What’s momentum before the game? Let’s try to do our best, let’s try to play football, let’s try to do what we spoke about, let’s try to use what we saw when we prepared for the game and all that stuff. The momentum is not something you have to talk about before the game, so I don’t think about it. It’s the same situation for all the other teams, too.

I tend to agree with Klopp and while momentum does play a part, it may be more about the timing of all the fixtures.


Liverpool’s 2017/18 Season

August 2017

  • Premier League Match Week 1, 12 August 2017: Watford 3 – 3 Liverpool
  • Champions League Play off 1st leg, 15 August 2017: Hoffenheim 1 – 2 Liverpool
  • Premier League Match Week 2, 19 August 2017: Liverpool 1 – 0 Crystal Palace
  • UCL Play off 2nd leg, 23 August 2017: Liverpool 4 – 2 Hoffenheim
  • Premier League Match Week 3, 27 August 2017: Liverpool 4 – 0 Arsenal

Looking back at our 2017/18 season, we started our Premier League campaign away from home; three days before our first Champions League Playoff match, which was also an away fixture. We subsequently played five matches before the first international break in September three of which were played away from home, including a match played in Germany.

International break 28 August 2017 to 5 September 2017

  • Premier League Match Week 4, 9 September 2017: Manchester City 5 – 0 Liverpool
  • UCL Group Stage, 13 September 2017: Liverpool 2 – 2 Sevilla
  • Premier League Match Week 5, 16 September 2017: Liverpool 1 – 1 Burnley
  • Football League Cup, 19 September 2017: Leicester 2 – 0 Liverpool
  • Premier League Match Week 6, 23 September 2017: Leicester 2 – 3 Liverpool
  • UCL Group Stage, 26 September 2017: Spartak Moskva 1 – 1 Liverpool
  • Premier League Match Week 7, 1 October 2017: Newcastle 1 – 1 Liverpool

We then began the next round of matches after the break with another fixture away from home, four days before our first UCL group stage match. We would go on to play a total of seven fixtures before the next international break which took place from 2 until 10 October 2017, with five of those fixtures being away from home, including a match played in Russia.


Liverpool’s 2018/19 Season

August 2018

  • Premier League Match Week 1, 12 August 2018: Liverpool 4 – 0 West Ham United
  • Premier League Match Week 2, 20 August 2018: Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Liverpool
  • Premier League Match Week 3, 25 August 2018: Liverpool 1 – 0 Brighton
  • Premier League Match Week 4, 1 September 2018: Leicester 1 – 2 Liverpool

International break 3 to 11 September 2018

  • Premier League Match Week 5, 15 September 2018: Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool
  • UCL Group Stage, 18 September 2018: Liverpool vs Paris St-Germain
  • Premier League Match Week 6, 22 September 2018: Liverpool vs Southampton
  • Football League Cup, 26 September 2018: Liverpool vs Chelsea
  • Premier League Match Week 7, 29 September 2018: Chelsea vs Liverpool
  • UCL Group Stage, 3 October 2018: Napoli vs Liverpool
  • Premier League Match Week 8, 7 October 2018: Liverpool vs Manchester City

This season is the first time that Liverpool have won four fixtures in a row during the Premier League era. While the fixtures after this international will be coming thick and fast, starting with the 15th of September when we take on Spurs at Wembley in the PL, the timing of the fixtures (even the pesky League Cup!) and the home to away ratio appears to be more balanced for us this time around.

Last season we drew several PL games when we realistically should have won them and in that, we lost vital points. Our first four Premier League wins have been important for the 12 points which does give us momentum going forward. Following that, the timing of those fixtures has also been ideal, giving us an opportunity to focus only on the league, something we were unable to do last season given our the bumper fixture list we had to get through from the very start.


I cannot recall any season prior to this where I was completely optimistic about everything where Liverpool is concerned. It is an incredible feeling and one that I believe will not falter or fade as the season progresses. We haven’t really lost our momentum since the second half of last season and this season the timing of our fixtures seem to be in our favour. With that in mind, I know that none of the Liverpool collective can wait until Saturday’s fixture against Spurs at Wembley. This one should be very different to last season!

Timing can often mean everything and taking everything into account (including that it’s about damn time), this Premier League season should be Liverpool’s for the taking.

Up the Mighty Reds!