When you look back at the season past of many football clubs around the world, you can pinpoint the exact moment when they kicked on towards success – or where the wheels came off entirely.
In English football, where the festive period is so manic, it’s often December that provides the sequence of events that will ultimately dictate whether a campaign is successful or not.
In this 31-day period alone, Liverpool will play seven Premier League games, a Champions League fixture in Milan, and an EFL Cup quarter-final with Leicester City. It could be make-or-break time.
Sites such as Crunch Sports are vital at this time of year as they keep fans up to date with all of the latest developments, and for Liverpool supporters, you suspect that there will be plenty of those as the curtain falls on the calendar year.
There’s no rest for the wicked when playing for an elite club, and the proof of that will come this December when Liverpool look to navigate their way through the month unscathed.
The concern for Jürgen Klopp, perhaps, is that many of the games to be played could be categorised as ‘must win’ – especially if he wants to get his hands on the Premier League trophy once more.
We could describe the contest with AC Milan in the Champions League as a ‘dead rubber’, with the Reds already confirmed as Group B winners. Meanwhile, Klopp will surely play a rotated starting 11 against Leicester in the EFL Cup – this has been his strategy throughout the competition.
However, the Premier League fixtures, which will come thick and fast, are much more serious. Everton, Wolves, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Leeds – these are all opponents who Liverpool should be beating, and a minimum of 10 points will be the expectation from those encounters.
Even league games against sterner opposition in Leicester and Tottenham provide opportunities for points, but key to Liverpool’s success – or otherwise – during this time will be Klopp’s ability to rest and rotate his squad, while avoiding injuries to star players.
Strength in numbers
The upside of the crazy fixture list is that Liverpool’s squad looks to be in a much better place now than it was in years gone by to cope with the workload.
Who could forget last season’s central-defensive crisis, where things got so bad that Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were drafted in as emergency replacements for the injured Virgil van Dijk, Joël Matip and Joe Gomez.
Ibrahima Konaté has been brought in to lighten the load defensively, and all over the pitch, Liverpool now have at least two quality players in every position – the emergence of Curtis Jones, the signing of Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas, and the rejuvenation of Thiago and Naby Keïta central to that.
It goes without saying that an injury to a Van Dijk or a Mo Salah would be catastrophic, but hopefully if they are managed effectively throughout December, they can head into the new year fit and firing – for Liverpool, still being in the thick of the Premier League title hunt will be the ideal gift from the festive period.