4 matches in 11 days, Reds season outlook will take shape in the next fortnight

The Reds can shape their season in the next fortnight.
Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Manchester City v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

During the Klopp era at Liverpool, there have been plenty of big matches, but few prolonged stretches bigger than the one ahead. From March 7th to March 17th, just an 11-day window, the Reds will play four matches; both legs of their Europa League Round of 16 tie against Sparta Prague, a Premier League clash against defending champs and current second-place squad Manchester City, and an FA Cup quarterfinal against Manchester United. 

After that stretch, Liverpool will have just 10 Premier League matches left, and if they’re still alive in those competitions, at most five remaining in the Europa League and two in the FA Cup.

They could be well on their way to a quadruple of sorts, or all hope could be lost in one competition or more.

The good news for Liverpool is that they’ll be heavily favored in both legs against Sparta. The first match of these big four is the first leg of that matchup, which will be played in Prague.

If the Reds walk away with a win, they’ll be in great shape; the second leg at Anfield could be a very relaxed affair. 

Perhaps the biggest thing to watch in the match in Prague isn’t the outcome; it’s whether we see Mo Salah, and if so, for how long. The legendary Egyptian winger has a phenomenal record against Man City, with five goals in the last six Anfield games against the Sky Blues.

He hasn’t played since re-aggravating an injury a few weeks ago, and he won’t be able to play long against City if he doesn’t get a good run in against Sparta.

He could be impactful off of the bench, but it would be great to see him run for a half hour midweek, and play an even bigger role on Sunday against City.

Darwin Nunez, however, is already back, and scored a huge goal against Nottingham Forest over the weekend.

He could be a huge factor against City even if Salah isn’t able to do so, and helps the highly injured squad regain some much-needed depth as they enter this key period. 

Speaking of those injuries, they’ll need Caoimhin Kelleher to have some great performances in the net- especially against City. Liverpool’s last Premier League win over Pep Guardiola’s squad was at Anfield, featuring not only a clean sheet from Alisson, but also an assist from the Brazilian shot-stopper.

His understudy has been fantastic, and he’ll need to keep it up as Liverpool’s top option will be out a bit longer. 

The City match is the most pivotal one in this series. Yes, Klopp got Liverpool their long-awaited Premier League trophy, but they’ve twice lost out in excruciating fashion to City after spectacular season-long races.

Outlasting City in Klopp’s final season would make the end a sweet one, and a win would go a long way towards making that happen.

A draw would leave the Reds with little margin for error, but a home loss would be devastating.

Of course, if Liverpool do lose to City, they would likely heavily prioritize the two remaining knockout competitions, and an FA Cup tie against one of the club’s greatest rivals of all time is a big deal in its own right.

Even if Salah isn’t ready to go against City, he’s likely to be fully available against United. That match is at Old Trafford, but against a United that has struggled to the point of being outsiders in even the Europa League race, a Liverpool team that has its attack fully intact should coast.

After the United match on St. Patrick’s Day, Liverpool will have two weeks off before their next fixture- another important Premier League matchup against Brighton.

By then, we’ll know much more about what we can expect from this season by way of silverware. No matter how it all goes, the Klopp era is ending in the most fitting way- with maximum tension.