The Loss That Will Fire the Reds to the Premier League Title

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The Loss That Will Fire the Reds to Premier League Glory

Unpacking Liverpool’s Setback Against Arsenal

As soon as I saw the team sheet for the Arsenal v Liverpool game, my immediate thought process was to find reasons why the Reds would be competitive, rather than simply knowing that they would overcome. Certain encounters garner my complete unwavering confidence from the outset, as I read through the listed players intent on destruction. What occurred on Sunday afternoon, however, was the culmination of various issues that saw the Reds outplayed and outgunned, before falling to the deserved loss. Arsenal had huge motivation in wanting to stay ahead of Tottenham and Aston Villa, to maintain their hunt for a top-four finish. Despite the Premier League table aesthetics, I do not believe them to be a genuine title contender, given so many deficiencies in the squad and their upcoming return to Champions League football. Mikel Arteta’s team came into the weekend game after just three games in 34 days, whereas the Reds had played an astonishing seven in that same period. Three of those games came in the last seven days, which I hope gives context to the fatigue comparisons, whilst offering insight into how the Reds adversaries will falter in their upcoming schedules.

How Does this Next Period Look for The Top Three…?

Below I have listed the games of the Premier League’s current top three clubs, in the lead-up to Manchester City’s trip to Anfield on the 3rd of March. I have also noted my thoughts on the impact of their respective runs and where I believe each team will eventually finish in the final Premier League standings.

Arsenal’s Road Ahead: A Fight for the Top Four

West Ham – Away – PL
14.00 – 11th February

Burnley – Away – PL
15.00 – 17th February

Porto – Away – CL
20.00 – 21st February

Newcastle – Home – PL
20.00 – 24th February

Sheffield United – Away – PL
20.00 – 4th March

Brentford – Home – PL
15.00 – 9th March

In the weeks that take Arsenal to the end of March (following the above), they will have to face Porto and Chelsea at home, before a trip to Manchester City. I believe the reintroduction of European football will cause a drop-off in quality for the North London outfit, after a difficult period prior. Mikel Arteta has a strong starting eleven, yet the fringes lack real depth and the much-needed levels to sustain a Premier League challenge. Their visit to the Etihad will be the end of their lingering title hopes, with a last-eight exit from the Champions League following soon thereafter.

Final position – 3rd

Manchester City’s Title Pursuit: A Daunting Fixture List

Brentford – Away – PL
20.00 – 17th 5th February

Everton – Home – PL
12.30 – 10th February

Copenhagen – Away – CL
20.00 – 13th February

Chelsea – Home – PL
17.30 – 17th February

Brentford – Away – PL
19.30 – 20th February

Bournemouth – Away – PL
17.30 – 24th February

Luton – Away – FA Cup
20.00 – 27th February

Manchester United – Home – PL
15.30 – 3rd March

Copenhagen – Home – CL
20.00 – 6th March

Liverpool – Away – PL
16.30 – 10th March

Manchester City have the most hectic fixture list of the three, in the build-up to their vital visit to Anfield. The fact that Kalvin Phillips has been loaned out will inevitably restrict the options available to the Etihad boss. That away game against the Reds will represent the tenth game in 35 days, which will see fatigue and the loss of points almost certain.

Final position – 2nd

Liverpool’s Path to Victory: A Rallying Call

Burnley – Home – PL
15.00 – 10th February

Brentford – Away – PL
12.30 – 17th February

Luton – Home – PL
19.30 – 21st February

Chelsea – Wembley – EFL Cup Final
15.00 – 25th February

Southampton / Watford – Home – FA Cup 5th Round
20.00 – 28th February

Nottingham Forest – Away – PL
15.00 – 2nd March

TBC – Away – Europa League
20.00 – 7th March

Manchester City – Home – PL
16.30 – 10th February

The weekend result hurt, though the response will be emphatic. The return of key assets such as Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endō, Kostas Tsimikas, and Thiago Alcântara, will re-energise and galvanize a team destined for glory. The ability to rotate accordingly in a far less daunting schedule can elevate performances once more, with a full week to prepare for Pep Guardiola’s visit. The Reds received a bye into the next round of the Europa League, which means coordinating the next few months can start gradually, whereas those in the more elite European tournament will have two-legged ties to overcome. The stars are aligning and everyone will have forgotten Virgil van Dijk’s forgettable Emirates display, as he lifts the Premier League trophy in May.

Final position – 1st

Steven Smith

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