- 4th – Bournemouth 4-3 Liverpool
- 11th – Liverpool 2-2 West Ham
- 14th – Middlesbrough 0-3 Liverpool
- 21st – Everton 0-1 Liverpool
- 27th – Liverpool 4-1 Stoke City
- 31st – Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City
- 2nd – Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool
A lot happened in December. A lot. If you’re reading this in January you probably don’t realise how much actually happened or how much Liverpool played. The Bournemouth game feels like it was months ago, rather than weeks.
In December and into the first week of January, Liverpool stuttered slightly and while they did so Chelsea continued to win. The Premier League title race this season is being contested at a frantic pace. 6 of Chelsea’s 13 consecutive wins came in December but even though it’s been difficult, Liverpool are doing their best to keep up with them. I have many favourite Jurgen Klopp quotes but there was something he said recently that I found particularly memorable. It was just before Chelsea’s away trip to White Hart Lane and after Liverpool’s 2-2 away draw to Sunderland, a disappointing result yes but one nonetheless that reduced Chelsea’s lead 5 points. “Imagine how annoying it must be”, he said, “to have won 13 consecutive games but to still have a team only five points behind you.” It was a smart thing to say. After weeks of having to play after Chelsea, weeks of doing nothing apart from winning in order to keep up rather than winning to reduce the gap, he now had an opportunity to pile the pressure on the league leaders. Liverpool’s result and performance against Sunderland failed to do that but what Klopp said after must have had an effect.. I’d like to think that it had something to do with Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat, their first since September.
I would like that to be the message of this month’s post. Liverpool have stuttered. There have been some bitter lows, the team’s collapse away to Bournemouth for one, Loris Karius’ collapse at home to West Ham for two. But after that there were some memorable games that lit up the festive season for Liverpool fans. Saido Mane’s 94th minute winner away to Everton in the Goodison Derby will be remembered for some time, the game on New Year’s Eve against Manchester City will not, however, be remembered as a classic but the way that Liverpool battled and fought to win a crucial three points against their title rivals will. As I said earlier, the result against Sunderland, which came less than 48 hours after City, was a disappointment but in hindsight one that reduced the gap at the top of the table.
Even though we are now past the halfway mark in the season, people are still keen to write Liverpool off. Apparently the title race was over and Chelsea were all but crowned Champions of not only the Premier League, but La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A too. Yet Liverpool are only five points behind. Be proud of this team. I can’t imagine how mentally draining it must have been to have had not only kept up with them over the past month, butt to have had to do it by always playing after them, the gap only ever growing.
January is huge. Apparently, Liverpool have three cup games to contest. First, an FA Cup tie against League Two side Plymouth Argyle before a two-legged League Cup semi-final against Southampton. I’m sorry to say, however, that I couldn’t care less about them. The league is all I want to care about and this month brings with it two momentous challenges in Manchester United away and Chelsea at home. United have quietly put an extremely good run together and at the time of writing have won six league games in a row and are 13 unbeaten. They remain sixth, however, which explains why they have been progressing so quietly, but have closed the gap on the teams above them. I would like to believe though, that Manchester United are an extremely mediocre football team that are made up of extremely talented individuals. Let’s hope that they don’t click. The Chelsea game speaks for itself. It will be a midweek fixture under the lights at Anfield, which gives us an opportunity to create an atmosphere and environment that I appeared to rattle Manchester City when they visited Anfield not long ago. In between, Liverpool face Swansea at home and Hull away, two struggling sides that currently make up two of the bottom three. Those games are equally important. I saw a stat recently which read that Liverpool have conceded more goals to the teams in the bottom six then they have conceded to the top six , which is certainly something. Repeats of Bournemouth, West Ham and Sunderland cannot afford to happen, especially this season.
Personally, next month sees me move to America as part of my university’s study abroad programme. I’m currently writing this passage as I wait for my flight to Chicago, where I will rush to grab a connecting flight to St Louis. From there I will get a bus to my final location, the place where I will be living for the next five months, Columbia, Missouri. As much as I’m excited, the Reds are constantly on my mind and the struggles of following Liverpool from another continent loom large. If it was five years ago and we were rubbish this wouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t afford to miss a game. Not this season.
I wonder where will Liverpool be when I return..?
- 8th – Plymouth Argyle (H) (FA Cup)
- 11th – Southampton (A) (LC)
- 15th – Manchester United (A)
- 21st – Swansea City (H)
- 25th – Southampton ( H) (LC)
- 31st – Chelsea (H)
- 4th – Hull (A)