After Leicester’s shock title win last year, there are not many ‘givens’ in the Premier League anymore.
The Foxes’ title win was a game-changer and a welcome one in the increasingly predictable top flight of English football, report the Liverpool Echo.
Spend the money, win the title. It wasn’t always right but you wouldn’t have gone far wrong with following it as a principle.
So what of some other maxims which have tended to stand the test of time in the Premier League age?
“Top at Christmas and you’ll win the league” is a pundit’s favourite, but one which hits Liverpool fans hard.
After all, Brendan Rodgers’ men led the way in 2013/14 before tough defeats at Man City and Chelsea over the festive period saw them overhauled before eventually falling just short.
Rafa Benitez’s men were top in 2008 but again that elusive title wasn’t delivered.
The Roy Evans team of 1996 also tucked into their turkey looking down on their rivals but that too would end in frustration.
Nonetheless it’s a theory which holds up pretty well. Indeed of the last seven Premier League champions, six were top at Christmas – including Leicester last season.
So can Jurgen Klopp’s men get there? Here we look at the next round of fixtures and compare Liverpool’s with the other teams near the top of the table.
Football isn’t played on paper of course – we all know that – but it’s fair to say that the Reds’ tough start has left them looking good in relation to their main rivals.
What’s also very noticeable is how often the Reds’ rivals are playing each other over the next few weeks.
SOUTHAMPTON (away)- Sat, Nov 19
SUNDERLAND (home) – Sat, Nov 26
BOURNEMOUTH (away) – Sun, Dec 4
WEST HAM (home) – Sun, Dec 11
MIDDLESBROUGH (away) – Weds, Dec 14
EVERTON (away) – Mon, Dec 19
The first thing you notice about Liverpool’s next batch of fixtures is the fact that four of the six are away from home. That will level off of course with the festive games at home against Stoke and Manchester City. Trips to the south coast to take on Southampton and Bournemouth look potentially tricky while the away trip across the park to Goodison also looms large before Xmas. Away to Middlesbrough also still has plenty of bad memories for the travelling Kop.
But the six teams the Reds will play currently average around 14th place in the Premier League – including two of the bottom four at home.
MIDDLESBROUGH (away) – Sun, Nov 20
SPURS (home) – Sat, Nov 26
MAN CITY (away) – Sat, Dec 3
WEST BROM (home) – Sun, Dec 11
SUNDERLAND (away) – Weds, Dec 14
CRYSTAL PALACE (away) – Sat, Dec 17
A mixed bag of fixtures for Antonio Conte’s men with again four of the six games away from home. The stand-out matches include two with the league’s top five as they welcome Spurs to Stamford Bridge and travel to the Etihad for Man City.
There’s a London derby at Selhurst Park while even the away trip to Sunderland might look trickier given it’s midweek and under the lights.
The six opponents currently average 12th place in the Premier League.
Manchester City (3rd)
CRYSTAL PALACE (away) – Sat, Nov 19
BURNLEY (away) – Sat, Nov 26
CHELSEA (home) – Sat, Dec 3
LEICESTER (away) – Sat, Dec 10
WATFORD (home) – Weds, Dec 14
ARSENAL (home) – Sun, Dec 18
City’s games are split evenly between home and away but it’s the games at the Etihad which catch the eye. They welcome both Chelsea and Arsenal which can only be good for Liverpool. We all know what can happen on a trip to Burnley although they’ll go in as strong favourites at Turf Moor although a trip to champions Leicester will see them go up against a formidable home record and a journey to Selhurst Park is never easy as the Reds have often found to their cost.
The average position of their opponents in the Premier League is a tough looking ninth currently, the hardest of all the top five.
MAN UNITED (away) – Sat, Nov 19
BOURNEMOUTH (home) – Sun, Nov 27
WEST HAM (away)- Sat, Dec 3
STOKE (home) – Sat, Dec 10
EVERTON (away) – Tues, Dec 13
MAN CITY (away) – Sun, Dec 12
Arsenal again have to travel for four of their six pre-Christmas fixtures – and there’s some tasty games waiting them too. Arsene Wenger’s men have to go to Old Trafford and the Etihad while a trip to Goodison under the lights is never easy at all.
The home games against Bournemouth and Stoke should deliver maximum points but the London derby away at West Ham could hold a few curve balls even if Slavan Bilic’s men haven’t quite made the London Stadium home yet.
The average position of their opponents is again a toughish tenth.
WEST HAM (home) – Sat, Nov 19
CHLESEA (away) – Sat, Nov 26
SWANSEA (home) – Sat, Dec 3
MAN UNITED (away) – Sun, Dec 11
HULL (home) – Weds, Dec 14
BURNLEY (home) – Sun, Dec 18
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have fared pretty well with their pre-Christmas matches.
For a start four of the six are at White Hart Lane although the two away trips look very difficult indeed, with Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford awaiting them.
The four home games look eminently winnable though, including facing three of the current bottom four in West Ham, Hull and Swansea.
Burnley are pretty poor on their travels so they could conceivably be looking at a full 12 out of 12 from those home games.
The average position of their opponents in the Premier League is currently twelfth.
Liverpool have found to their cost that some of the Premier League’s lesser lights can give you plenty of trouble. It is a league simply where three points can never be guaranteed. But Liverpool’s tough start – and they coped with it brilliantly – has now subsided to a run which looks reasonably appealing, with their fortunes likely to be decided by those trips to the south coast.
It is especially so given a look at the games facing their key rivals. Many play each other in this stretch with Manchester City and Arsenal having particularly tricky looking fixtures to cope with.
It is difficult to regard the run as anything other than pretty decent for the Reds if current form can be maintained. Spurs are the other side appearing to be entering a good run.
Top at Christmas? It may not matter but there are plenty of reasons to hope that Jurgen Klopp’s men having every chance of achieving it.