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Liverpool set for six make or break fixtures

After splashing out world record fees for Virgil Van Dijk and (what was briefly a record) Alisson Becker the pressure on Jurgen Klopp to deliver silverware after some encouraging but dismal seasons thus far is beginning to increase.

Four games into the season sees Liverpool perched nicely on the top of the table, a position they currently share with Chelsea and Watford. Having not only strengthened the first XI, but also their bench with arrivals of Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri, Liverpool will be rejuvenated at having taken care of positions that cost them severely last season.

With Virgil Van Dijk the defence looks extremely solid and the fact that the Dutchman’s transfer fee of £75m hasn’t been brought up on a weekly basis is indeed a testament to how well he’s doing his job. Other than a barbaric attempt at a Cruyff turn on his own goalline, Alisson has further solidified what was earlier an extremely vulnerable defensive unit. Beyond the defensive line, another important asset for Klopp’s side is Naby Keita who seems to proficiently provide an excellent linkage between attack and defence.

After four wins from four in the league, the attention will soon turn to Europe and the task of going one further than last years campaign will be the ambitious objective for Klopp and his side. The Reds continually fielded weaker line-ups in the league in the build up to the crunch stages of the Champions League last season and as a result they were possibly forced to sacrifice a higher league position.

With Liverpool being placed in pot 3 for the Champions League Group Stage draw this season, getting an extremely daunting group was inexorable. Having been drawn alongside the Italian powerhouse of Napoli and French champions Paris St-Germain, Liverpool face an uphill task of balancing their Premier League aspirations with their Champions League ones.

This season, their squad will be stretched to even greater limits and with the Champions League set to begin next week, Klopp’s team face a fixture schedule which nobody in their right mind would fancy. 90MAAT take a close look at the Reds next six fixtures (ignoring a home tie against Southampton), which will likely be the defining point of their season.

– Tottenham (A): Premier League, 15th September

Liverpool start their spell of reckoning with a visit to Wembley where they got thumped 4-1 last time out. They must seize their chances this time around and avoid getting hit on the break as they were susceptible to the last time they visited. Pochettino’s side will be looking to avenge their 2-1 defeat to Watford and put an end to Liverpool’s 100% win rate.

> PSG (H): Champions League, 18th September

A determined PSG side will be visiting Anfield and under management of Thomas Tuchel we are sure to witness fireworks, on the pitch as well as off it. They begun their campaign last year with a 2-2 draw at home to Sevilla, a more demanding test looks to be on the cards this time around.

> Chelsea (H): Carabao Cup, 24th September

It is likely that Klopp will sacrifice the Carabao Cup in favour of the two major trophies with this tie sandwiched between a visit of Southampton two days earlier and a trip to Chelsea in the league just five days later.

> Chelsea (A): Premier League, 29th September

This will be an extremely stern test for Jurgen Klopp as he faces another tactical mastermind in Sarri,  who like himself is keen on playing football the beautiful way. It will be an excellent tactical battle, with Chelsea looking to seize the initiative and Liverpool looking to wreak havoc on the turn of play.

> Napoli (A): Champions League, 3rd October

Liverpool will be treated to the away version of Anfield; for Napoli fans will make the atmosphere one of the most hostile that the traveling fans will remember for a long while. In addition, they will also look to better their red counterparts on the pitch with their swashbuckling attacking pacey brand of football

> Manchester City (H): Premier League, 7th October

Liverpool fans will take confidence in knowing that Manchester City haven’t won away to them in forever, and further confidence still in knowing that City’s string-puller, Kevin De Bruyne, is very likely to miss the game due to a long term injury. Despite this, it would be the furthest thing from logic to say right now that that Liverpool will definitively win. City have shown their flexibility with systems and formations and with David Silva in the prime of his career and Kun Aguero moving faster than he has ever before, Liverpool will end their walk on fire with an encounter with a blazing City side.

It is without doubt that these six fixtures will determine whether Liverpool will have a successful season. It is vital that the Champions League campaign gets off to a flier yet gaining six points from PSG and Napoli will be a considerably demanding challenge. The match-up vs Manchester City will be crucial and if the Reds could come out with all three points in that one then their will be high aspirations of a Premier League title in Merseyside this season.

Ayush Verma

20. Student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Manchester City correspondent for 90MAAT

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