As the final leg of what has so far been a dire season for Liverpool crawls into view, Jurgen Klopp’s side approach a bundle of matches that have the possibility to definitively save or smite the current campaign.
Within the next month, Liverpool face two of the Premier League’s top four and return to Champions League action – the only competition they have realistic ambitions of winning – in arguably the stand-out tie of the round of 16.
On Monday night, the Reds made a needed return to form by beating Everton 2-0 in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Here’s what lies in store for Liverpool in the coming weeks.
In recent years, the trip to Newcastle’s St James’ Park has not been the most daunting destination in Liverpool’s diary.
However, the Reds travel north on Saturday 18 February to face a team that is unbeaten at home all season. Eddie Howe’s side haven’t tasted defeat in front of the Toon Army since Liverpool won 1-0 last April.
While searching for a spark to reanimate the dead corpse of the European Super League in October, Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez lamented the lack of historic meetings between Los Blancos and the Reds.
“It turns out we have played Liverpool, a historic team with six European Cups, only nine times in 67 years,” Perez gawked. Don’t worry Florentino, that tally will be bumped up to ten when Madrid travel to Anfield on Tuesday, 21 February at 20:00 (GMT).
As a player, Patrick Vieira started just three Premier League victories against LIverpool in 14 appearances – and one of those triumphs ended early for the combative midfielder after a second yellow card.
During his brief managerial reign in England’s top flight, Vieira is yet to get one over Klopp’s side. However, the 46-year-old did set Crystal Palace up in a frustrating rearguard which earned a point at Anfield in August.
“Very frustrating, very disappointing,” was how Klopp described the opening dozen minutes which saw Liverpool concede twice against Wolves at the start of February.
When Julen Lopetegui’s side travel to Anfield on Wednesday 1 March for the reverse Premier League fixture, It will be the fourth meeting between these clubs in 53 days. Liverpool, thanks in no small part to VAR inadequacies and a replay, squeaked through their FA Cup third-round tie with Wolves before slumping to a 3-0 loss at Molineux in the league.
With a derby game hot on the heels of this midweek affair, Klopp won’t have much time to avoid a repeat of what he described as “the pinnacle of our problems”.
The 211th meeting between Liverpool and Manchester United is likely to be the first in a long while which sees the Red Devils canter into the contest as favourites.
Last season, Liverpool defeated Manchester United home and away by an aggregate score of 9-0 (5-0 at Old Trafford and 4-0 at Anfield). However, Erik ten Hag steered United to the first victory of his tenure at Liverpool’s expense in August and has chiselled his well-drilled outfit into unlikely title challengers in the intervening months.
The nine goals Liverpool rattled past Bournemouth in a sun-drenched Anfield seem like a hazy memory of a past decade. However, that goal glut in August only marginally deviated from Liverpool’s prolific record against the Cherries.
In each of their previous four visits to Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, Liverpool have scored at least three goals (14 in total). The only clean sheet Bournemouth have ever earned against Liverpool came on home turf back in 1968 when the Cherries kept the likes of Ian St John and Roger Hunt quiet in an FA Cup third-round tie.