Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager prepares for his players to return from international duty. These games could define the Reds’ season.
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager will be aware of the challenge ahead.
After dropping their unbeaten record before the break, the Reds now sit fourth in Premier League and have two more points than they had at this stage of the 2020-21 season.
They are also working out on Sadio’s fitness, as the forward had only managed to play for half an hour against Togo in Senegal’s World Cup qualifier. Roberto Firmino is still missing due to injury.
As the players and manager will both know, the period between international break and the beginning of the new year is very important for Anfield clubs. This season, it will be even greater.
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It can be crucial to know when the last autumn international holiday is and when the year turns.
It can at least put a team in a position to continue their progress, as was the case with Liverpool last season before an unfortunate run of injuries in January and February.
It allows you to build some momentum, without being interrupted by international calls-ups. The teams that have a better start in Europe will be able to rotate their squads while giving the minutes needed to those who require them.
Jurgen Klopp’s November and December are the best years of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea. His peak years were marked by fast starts, Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United dominance often depended on mastery in the run-in.
Liverpool’s players returned to Anfield from their last international commitments in 2020. They won with a 3-0 win over Leicester City.
To end the calendar year, they remained unbeaten in seven more games, including a stunning 7-0 win away to Crystal Palace.
However, Klopp’s 16 point run in eight games wasn’t the best of November or December.
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Klopp’s inaugural full season was dominated by eight games between November internationals, new year, and it brought 17 points. Only Nathan Ake’s last-gasp win for Bournemouth prevented Liverpool from a perfect record.
Twelve months later, a November break had been made earlier, meaning that the stretch included 10 league games. Klopp’s men were not beaten in any of these.
The Reds were unstoppable in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Eight wins from eight led to a runner up finish in the first year. The Reds then went on to win seven more times in seven years. This was the start of the crucial title race.
For those who are keeping score, that’s just one defeat in five seasons from the November international break to the turn of this year. One. That’s it. That was even after Liverpool had led 3-1 in the 15th minute.
Manchester City lost three times in the same period in the previous two seasons, while Chelsea only lost three games in December 2020.
Delivering at a traditional time of year is more important than ever.
After the Boxing Day fixtures, players involved in the Africa Cup of Nations must join their international teams. For Liverpool, that means three notable absentees.
Egypt’s hope of winning the tournament is likely to rest on Mohamed Salah. His club teammates Mane Keita and Naby Keita will be competing in the group stage for Senegal or Guinea.
Liverpool has struggled in January in past seasons. Last season’s defeats at Southampton and Burnley will remain fresh in the minds of those who are involved in Liverpool.
Klopp will not be able do much about January absentees. However, Klopp can set up his squad to be better equipped than most to handle the loss of key players in a difficult time.
It is important to win matches, build momentum and keep your team players on the right track.
This is where we discover how easy it can be to do that year after year.