With the 2016/17 Premier League fixtures having been released, it’s time to cast an eye over what lies ahead in the coming season for Liverpool.
It’s certainly a difficult start, as Jurgen Klopp and his men must travel to the Emirates Stadium, to take on Arsenal. If this looks like a tough match, the following fixture, at home to Burnley, will be considered the perfect game to start the home fixtures at Anfield. However, with work on the new Main Stand still in progress, the club have asked if the match can be switched to Burnley. If this happens, Liverpool’s first three games of the 2016/17 Premier League season, will all be away from Anfield.
Following the trip to Burnley, is the first visit to London, with a match against Tottenham Hotspur and the first home match of the season, will be against defending champions, Leicester City. Completing a demanding set of opening fixtures, is a trip to Stamford Bridge, to take on Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
If the Burnley fixture is switched to Turf Moor, which seems likely, Liverpool could enter October, either very much in the driving seat or adrift of their rivals, at the top of the Premier League table. Let’s not forget, Arsenal lost their opening match of last season, at home to West Ham, so anything can happen. Yes, there are easier fixtures you would choose to start a Premier League season but think what a positive result at Arsenal would do for the team.
Many pundits have said a defeat to Arsenal, while a less than ideal start to the season, will not define it, as plenty of top teams will lose at the Emirates. However, this is completely the wrong attitude to take, going in to a new season.
This opening match against Arsenal is huge. A win and the team would be on the front foot from the word go, with confidence high and a belief they can compete at the top of the Premier League table. It’s unclear how Spurs will react to their end of season difficulties, how Leicester will respond to playing as champions and how Chelsea are going to shape-up, with Conte as the new manager. There are question marks over these teams, for different reasons and the start of the season, could prove to be the best time to play them.
The next big match, comes at home, against Manchester United in mid-October but after this game, seven of the next nine fixtures are against teams who finished in the bottom half last season or were promoted from the Championship. This gives Liverpool the perfect opportunity to string a good run of form together, before the tricky Christmas period.
The run-in features very winnable games, against the likes of Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Middlesbrough, with potentially the toughest coming against Everton, at the start of April.
The fact of the matter is, every team, has to play every other team twice during the season. However, building up momentum is key and Liverpool have been presented with a challenge at the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season but one which should be looked upon as an opportunity. An opportunity to lay down a marker down for the rest of the Premier League, that Liverpool mean business and are a team capable of competing for the title.