With the fixture list being increasingly congested, it is a good time to sit down and reassess the realistic (and not so realistic) objective for Liverpool going into the the Christmas break.
Matches Before the New Year
So, this is how Liverpool’s fixture list headed into the new year,
9th Basel (Home)
14th Manchester United (Away)
17th Bournemouth (Away)
21st Arsenal (Home)
26th Burnley (Away)
29th Swansea (Home)
A few games to take note of – affects which tournaments we compete in for the next few months – will be the game against Basel & Bournemouth. The Basel game will be one whereby its either win or bust for Liverpool, with Group B presently looking like this.
|1||Real Madrid CF||5||2||0||0||3||0||0||5||0||0||12||2||10||15|
|2||FC Basel 1893||5||2||0||1||0||0||2||2||0||3||6||7||-1||6|
|4||PFC Ludogorets Razgrad||5||1||1||1||0||0||2||1||1||3||5||10||-5||4|
The message to Liverpool is fairly simple, its win or bust. My point of view is that there is really no positive outcome whatsoever from losing – our fixture list won’t be any thinner, because we will have to make the even bigger round trips in the Europa League should we draw or lose (Liverpool will still finish third in the group in this scenario, if Ludogorets lose to Real, by virtue of a better head to head record). Liverpool struggled and eventually went down to Basel in their first encounter earlier on in the season, but Rodgers has gotta get these players together and grind out that win.
In the Capital One cup, Liverpool were given a fairly favorable draw against minnows Bournemouth. Most likely, this will be an exhibition game for the younger talents in the team to develop their game in a more competitive environment, or an opportunity for the fringe players to come out and show Brendan Rodgers that they deserve to be a starter on the team. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think the Capital One cup should be ranked too highly on Brendan Rodgers’ list of priorities. Ultimately finishing strong in the league should be Brendan Rodgers’ primary objective for now.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Burnley & Swansea are the opponents which Liverpool will have to face in the cold month of December, and it doesn’t make for too easy reading. Manchester United, although having had a stuttering start under Van Gaal, have been performing fairly consistently over the past few weeks, being in the mix for those elusive Champions League places. I most certainly hope Liverpool will rise to the occasion, as they so often have in the season so far, and take a victory over our rivals there.
Arsenal lie 4 points ahead of Liverpool, and on paper looks like the game where Liverpool will more likely be able to take 3 points from. Given Arsenal have just dropped 3 points against Stoke City this very weekend (whom we beat the week before) will perhaps give Liverpool confidence ahead of this game. Realistically, I think Liverpool has to aim for at least 3 of those 6 points available against Arsenal and Man United as they go into the Christmas break.
From the Burnley & Swansea games, I am expecting the 6 points given Burnley are struggling in 19th place in the BPL table at the moment, and Swansea are our direct competition in the mid-table mix at the moment. In my opinion, they are both very winnable games, and we will definitely need all 6 of those points if we are to avoid that mid-table mixup heading into the new year.
So, what do you guys think Liverpool’s aims for this Christmas break should be?