Five friendlies across two continents and three countries in…11 days. Liverpool’s frantic pre-season schedule could well pave the way for the deployment of a worn-out, patched-up XI at the Emirates on the Premier League’s opening weekend.
Tuning his squad up for the demands of the gegenpress system was always going to be a priority of Jurgen Klopp’s during his first off-season at the Anfield helm.
Even with the aim of shaving off any holiday-acquired lbs from his players, the schedule upon which Liverpool have embarked could be described as overzealous and, damagingly, has left Klopp in the midst of a defensive crisis with less than a fortnight to go until they face Arsenal.
Following a whirlwind fixture list on their tour of the USA – where a friendly against Roma was tacked onto the end of two International Champions Cup fixtures against Chelsea and AC Milan to make it three games in the space of six days – Klopp has seen a rapid depletion of defenders. Only two recognised centre-backs are left standing.
Mamadou Sakho, Joel Matip and cover-option Lucas have all joined long-term absentee Joe Gomez on the sidelines, leaving Dejan Lovren and new signing Ragnar Klavan in danger of burnout with Barcelona next to play at Wembley.
With Alberto Moreno suffering a dead leg against Roma, the Reds’ only specialist left-back has added more depth to the developing defensive catastrophe.
The concluding pre-season fixture at the home of Klopp’s former team Mainz will surely now be a set aside for the reserves as it follows the day after their London rendez-vous with Barca, .
Rumours abound that the Reds boss, who has already added seven new faces to the Anfield roster, may now be forced to dip back into the transfer market to provide adequate defensive cover for the forthcoming season.
We make Liverpool the 21/10 underdogs to defeat the Gunners in north London in their curtain raiser, with the hosts priced up as 5/4 favourites.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.