The next two weeks may not break but certainly could make Liverpool’s season.
This week’s double-header against Chelsea, at home to the Blues in the League Cup on Wednesday, and away to the South Londoners in the English Premier League on Saturday, precedes next Wednesday’s Uefa Champions League trip to Napoli, and a Premier League hosting of Manchester City next Sunday.
If they can survive all, Liverpool will be through to the next round of the cup, six points to the good and leading their Champions League group, and at least five points clear at the top of the Premier League table, setting them up nicely for a successful campaign across all fronts this season.
So much has been said of Jurgen Klopp’s side following last season’s campaign, where they reached the Champions League final, and finished fourth in the league. If they could just be more consistent, particularly away from home against other top four sides this season, they could well contend for the title.
However, even with better strengthening than any of the other top four sides over the summer and impressive wins so far away to Tottenham 2-1 in the league and at home to Paris St-Germain 3-2 in Europe, they are still a bit of an unknown force despite a perfect start of six league wins.
With the exception of Spurs though, those other league wins against West Ham United, Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion, Leicester City and Southampton, were too be expected.
Good at raising their game for big one-off encounters, the question remains whether they have it in them to go back-to-back against the heavyweights in a flurry of big matches, and come out still standing.
That question will surely be answered in these next four games, and perhaps serve as an indication of what they are truly capable of come the business end of the season when the going gets tough. It would also put them far out enough in front to buy them some decent breathing space.
My thinking would be to throw out the reserves against Chelsea in the cup and go all out against them in the league, knowing that Chelsea will be reeling [but also vulnerable] from having dropped points away to West Ham on Sunday.
If they could then nick a draw away to Napoli before the biggest of the four encounters at home to City, then they should have enough in the tank to keep their league flow going. If they win at least two of those four games, and preferably the league ones, they will be laughing.
Neither the cup nor the Champions League should be a priority, knowing that City’s focus on Europe could be where Liverpool cash in this season to end an almost three decade wait for league honours.