Troubled Liverpool face difficult October stretch
These are tumultuous times for Liverpool and their manager Jurgen Klopp as nothing looks to be going their way following Community Shield success against Manchester City.
Following a busted quadruple pursuit in 2021/22, the Reds headed into the new Premier League season as one of the leading candidates to dethrone Pep Guardiola’s side.
However, only six matchdays into the new season, the Merseyside heavyweights are already well off the title pace in England’s top flight, while things are not looking any better on the European front.
Last season’s Champions League beaten finalists suffered an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Napoli in their Group A curtain-raiser, casting further doubt on their underwhelming start to the 2022/23 season.
Although Klopp’s men have plenty of time to make amends for sub-standard performances early in the season, October’s hectic fixture schedule will put more squeeze on their injury-prone roster.
Stretched across multiple competitions, Liverpool will feature in as many as nine matches in October, which could prove detrimental to their bid to get the current campaign up and running.
Under-pressure Reds boss Klopp has already faced several injury concerns this term.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Fabio Carvalho, Ibrahima Konate and Thiago Alcantara have all sustained various fitness problems at the beginning of the season.
With the full-packed October schedule likely to drive the Reds’ relatively short squad to their limits, Klopp might have a personal opportunity to showcase his managerial brilliance again.
Otherwise, Liverpool could find themselves in a precarious position, especially in the Premier League, where they hope to knock Man City off their perch following last season’s heartbreaking runner-up finish.
League fixtures will be coming thick and fast, as the Merseysiders will trade tackles with an in-form Brighton & Hove Albion, pacesetters Arsenal and Guardiola’s City in their first three top-flight matchdays in October.
While they could be forgiven for dropping the points against the Cityzens at Anfield, Klopp’s men can ill-afford to disappoint against the Seagulls and the Gunners.
Far more winnable match-ups against an out-of-sorts West Ham United, newly-promoted Nottingham Forest and underperforming Leeds United will serve to drop the curtain on their October commitments.
Anything other than nine points during that three-match stretch would be a massive step back for the Reds’ effort to claw their way to the top of the Premier League standings.
Equally important will be Liverpool’s outings in the Champions League, where they will face the likes of Rangers and Ajax in a competitive-looking Group A.
There is no doubt that they are desperate to show the abovementioned fiasco in Italy was just a one-off, making these two upcoming European games crucial for their potential knock-out progression.
A highly congested schedule could force Klopp to rotate his squad to avoid seeing more of his essential first-team players picking up injuries, as has been the case early in the season.
Now would be a perfect time for marquee summer signing Darwin Nunez to prove his doubters wrong and repay Liverpool’s trust on the back of his lacklustre Premier League start.
Mohamed Salah alone is insufficient, as witnessed by a tepid scoreless draw at Everton a fortnight ago, as the Egyptian needs someone to fill the role of Sadio Mane.
Luis Diaz is putting his utmost effort week in, week out, but Nunez has to show why the Reds made him the club’s second most expensive signing ever this summer. Hopefully, he can hit his stride in October.