Liverpool Still Has a Long Way to Go

Liverpool has two games to play in Qatar, by which time it will, most likely, have been eliminated from the Carabao Cup. It then must face Leicester, Wolves and Sheffield United in the space of eight days in the Premier League.

Klopp will have seen the first weekend of January, and the third round of the F.A. Cup, as a chance for a break, but no such luck: the vicissitudes of the draw mean that Everton will be at Anfield that day, the occasion as superheated as ever. After that, it is back to the Premier League, with games against Tottenham, Manchester United and Wolves, again.

All of that comes on the back of a run of six games in 17 days, even before next week’s pileup. Liverpool has so many games to play that it has one — away at West Ham, postponed because of the Club World Cup — that does not yet have an official slot. Few of Liverpool’s players had an extended break last summer: Sadio Mané, its standout performer this year, had only a couple of weeks off because of national team duty for Senegal.

Klopp has already spent part of the season without Alisson Becker, his first-choice goalkeeper; Joel Matip, one of his first-choice defenders; and now Fabinho, his first-choice midfielder.

He can hardly plead poverty of resources, of course; he has a rich and deep squad. But, still: Liverpool is being tested to the limit.

It might not look like it now, but it is possible that, should Leicester beat Manchester City next weekend and then Liverpool on Boxing Day, that the eight-point lead could be down to two, just as a daunting January schedule draws into focus. The Premier League is far from done. It is always a long road. For Liverpool, this year, it is slightly longer still.