LOOKING AHEAD TO THE BIGGEST APRIL OF OUR LIVES
With the international break still rumbling on, I can’t help but look ahead to the potentially era defining April the Reds have in store. It is shaping up to be the month of all months with huge fixtures everywhere you look.
As a Liverpool fan, I can’t remember the last time the club went into the penultimate month of the season still alive in all competitions. After the League Cup triumph in February, the pursuit for the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup trophies has been incessant.
It’s a far cry from years gone by where the season was dead by April with nothing left to play for. We are enjoying the time of our lives and as nail biting and nervy as it’ll get, we mustn’t forget to enjoy it. Months like this are rare in occurrence and it’s easy to get swept up in the must win nature of it all.
This international break has allowed me time to breathe and take a step back from the chase. It has helped me appreciate what is the best Liverpool team of my lifetime even more. What Jürgen Klopp is achieving with this side is the stuff dreams are made of.
This side has cleared so many hurdles to get to this point, but to achieve the impossible, they will have to clear even bigger hurdles and overcome tougher propositions. The first such hurdle is the first game of April; an early 12:30pm (BST) kickoff after an international break against a relegation threatened side.
Such an early kickoff usually doesn’t help the atmosphere at Anfield. With Watford now under Roy Hodgson’s management, we know they will set up to frustrate. After flying all over the world and playing in different systems with different teammates, the Reds will have to break down a parked bus straightaway.
With Trent, the main creative outlet in the team, working his way back from a hamstring injury, Klopp’s charges have to find a way through without the playmaker’s help. The fact that Thiago was not called up for Spain is a blessing in disguise in that regard. He will be key in this run and in this game.
The same goes for Bobby Firmino. Jota, Diaz, Salah and Mané are all involved in huge World Cup Qualifiers with their respective countries. One or two could return slightly jaded or with the burden of failure on their shoulders. Bobby will be needed to pick up the slack early on.
Should the Reds beat Watford, they will go top of the table for the first time since December. It will mark quite an astonishing turnaround. Manchester City sat 14 points clear of the Reds in January (albeit having played two games more).
This recovery typifies the fighting spirit and the mentality of this group of players. At a time where it seemed the title race was dead and buried, they refused to give up and went on a long winning run to reel the Citizens back in. Victory over Watford will bring the greatest comeback in Premier League history a step closer.
No side has ever overhauled a 14 point gap to go on and win the title in the history of the Premier League. The boost it’ll give to this side to go top, and the psychological blow it will deal to City, who then have to go to Turf Moor and win, can’t be underestimated.
Three days after the potentially seismic fixture against Watford, the Reds travel to Portugal for the first leg of their Champions League Quarter Final tie with Benfica. It is once again a match the Merseysiders will be expected to win. Benfica knocked out the impressive Ajax and will be no pushovers.
It will be in Liverpool’s best interest to end the tie as a contest in the first leg. With potentially nine fixtures in April, making the second leg a potential dead rubber will serve as a huge advantage. A result similar to the one earned at the San Siro against Inter will be just what the doctor ordered, as tough as it may be.
Manage that and the Reds have a four day period to rest and prepare for the mammoth clash at the Etihad against Manchester City, in what is surely a title decider. This game bears similarities to the 2018/19 January clash at the Etihad which saw City triumph and take advantage to go on and clinch the title.
The Reds were 7 points clear heading into that fixture, after a 20 game unbeaten run had seen them steer clear at the top. Fine margins decided that game, with Mané’s shot hitting the post and staying out by 1.12cm whilst Sane’s late effort hit the post and went in.
That game and that season still hurts. A 97 point tally with just that one defeat all season. The season deserved to be crowned with the league title but Pep’s side were one point better. It would be poetic if roles reversed this season. This time Liverpool are the chasers, having cut down a sizeable lead.
Fine margins could again decide this game, and indeed this title race. It is likely the Reds have to win at the Etihad in order to win this title. Victory at the Etihad has been hard to come by in recent times, with the last one coming all the way back in November 2015 (a comprehensive 4-1 win over Pellegrini’s City).
Three days after what is sure to be an intense match up at the Etihad, the Reds must go again at home to Benfica. This is where a first leg win will come in handy. It will grant Jürgen Klopp a priceless opportunity to ring the changes and offer his mainstays a breather.
Should the first leg not go according to plan, it will be another intense and nervy night. Not an ideal situation, especially with another clash against City, this time at Wembley in the semi final of the FA Cup, awaiting on the Saturday. That rest is key to this run. Beat Benfica in Portugal and we’ll gain a key advantage over rivals.
Facing City twice in a week will be epic. The best two teams in the land, going head to head in two different competitions. The result of the first game will definitely have a direct impact on the buildup and the mood ahead of the second. The Reds will have to beat City at Wembley in what is a repeat of the 2016 League Cup final.
Victory will seal a place in the final against Crystal Palace/Chelsea. Liverpool haven’t played in an FA Cup final since losing to Chelsea in the 2012 showpiece. Three days after the second meeting with City, their city rivals United are up next.
The Red Devils are chasing a top four place and will be keen to put right the embarrassing 5-0 defeat at Old Trafford earlier in the season. They seem a slightly better unit under Ralf Rangnick and will pose a unique threat to our title hopes as they try to thwart our charge to a record equalling 20th title.
There’s potential for another throwback here. The 2-0 victory over United at Anfield in the 2019/20 season, saw the Kop break into a vociferous “we’re gonna win the league” chant. The belief around the place was poignant, in what was a memorable milestone in the run to title number 19.
After United, the five day gap to the Merseyside derby will feel like a winter break. It will afford the squad enough time to recuperate and prepare to go again. Everton are battling relegation under Frank Lampard and will be desperate to leave Anfield without defeat.
It is sure to be another bruising encounter against the Toffees. There’s also the potential for the fixture to be brought forward a day, should the Reds knock Benfica out of the Champions League. That’s because the first leg of the semi final is currently scheduled to take place about 48 hours after the derby.
Straight after the derby could be a mouthwatering clash with Bayern Munich (or Villareal) at Anfield. The hits just keep on coming! The Reds will then conclude the month of April with a trip to Eddie Howe’s rejuvenated Newcastle United.
I have no idea how I’m going to survive April with everything on the line in every single game. To win an unprecedented quadruple, Liverpool must:
1. Beat City at the Etihad
2. Knock out Benfica
3. Beat City at Wembley
4. Beat United
5. Beat Everton
6. Knockout Bayern Munich (or Villareal)
7. Make it 18 PL wins in a row (currently on 9 wins)
8. Beat Chelsea at Wembley again (or Palace) in the FA Cup final
9. Beat City/Chelsea (or Madrid or Atleti) in the UCL final.
No wonder this feat has never been achieved! It is an insane run of fixtures. You wouldn’t put anything past this Liverpool side however. Come what may, it has been a successful season. It has been a totally enjoyable journey and no matter how many pieces of silverware the Reds lift in the end, this season will live long in the memory.
Liverpool’s April fixtures:
- Watford (H) | April 2nd
- Benfica (A) | April 5th
- Man City (A) | April 10th
- Benfica (H) | April 13th
- Man City (N) | April 16th
- Man United (H) | April 19th
- Everton (H) | April 24th
- Villareal/Bayern Munich (H) | April 26th***
- Newcastle (A) | April 30th
*** – should Liverpool qualify
2 thoughts on “LOOKING AHEAD TO THE BIGGEST APRIL OF OUR LIVES”
It’s going to be legendary when we achieve this fit, but come what may, we have shown by the games won and how far we’ve come in all competitions this season, we’ve exceeded all expectations.
What better way to continue creating history than to beat City and Chelsea multiple times and see off Everton and United with a vintage performance. Huge respect for Benfica but I don’t see them as a threat.
It’s all about who wants it more at this stage.
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