October will separate the men from the boys. Most of the clubs competing in Europe have nine matches next month — yes, nine — and that includes Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
The Reds have got Brighton, Rangers, Arsenal, Rangers again, Manchester City, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Ajax and Leeds between now and Halloween.
That is enough to make a few fans nervous. Muscular injuries haven’t been kind to Liverpool. That’s how most of their players pick up problems, like Thiago Alcantara, who’s been missed in midfield with a hamstring injury.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool could resurrect their title challenge if they have a good October
That’s natural, given the work this group put in to implement Klopp’s style of play.
Even the machine-like James Milner has broken down in the past because of it. But I’m not here to be miserable. I want to look at the silver lining to this schedule and, for Liverpool, this manic month could be a blessing in disguise.
Klopp’s training has been described as ‘brutal’ and ‘extremely hard’ and I suspect that these players will embrace this match list because there will be no time for intense sessions in between.
They can use this relentless schedule to establish a winning rhythm and resurrect their season.
It’s go time for Klopp’s Liverpool, because right now, they trail Manchester City by a whopping eight points and are being written off in the title race as a result.
BONKERS SCHEDULE SHOULD GIVE MAGUIRE A CHANCE TO START
Harry Maguire turns more slowly than cheese apparently. Turns like a cruise liner. Turns as if he’s a turtle towing a caravan.
He doesn’t. That’s all an exaggeration. He’s a good player, Maguire. But as I said in my round-table chat with my Sportsmail columnists on Wednesday, he can’t start for England if he isn’t starting for his club, Manchester United.
That’s another bonus of this bonkers schedule because it should give him a few chances to start. Erik ten Hag has no obligation to England boss Gareth Southgate to use Maguire.
Harry Maguire should get the chance to start for Manchester United as games come fast
But it would be surprising if Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez were asked to start all nine of United’s fixtures even if they are the manager’s preferred partnership. That would be too much.
Their last Premier League match was a 3-1 win over Arsenal on September 4.
It renewed belief. But if they get spanked by Manchester City on Sunday the reaction won’t be pleasant and Ten Hag will realise that doom and gloom is never far away from United.
DIEGO COSTA TO WOLVES LOOKS LIKE A PANIC SIGNING TO ME
Diego Costa is box office. A ferocious piece of work who defenders hate to face.
But do not expect to see the same Costa who wowed us between 2014 and 2017 as Chelsea’s snarling super-striker.
The 33-year-old’s last game was in December 2021 — a Brazilian Serie A game for Atletico Mineiro in which he played for 58 minutes. Now he’s back in England after Wolves reacted to the ACL injury to Sasa Kalajdzic.
Costa’s debut could come against West Ham on Saturday and Wolves need goals as the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League.
I’m happy to be proved wrong, but this screams a panic signing to me and I don’t expect Costa will be at his fittest.
Diego Costa seems like a panic buy from Wolves – he is set to make his debut on Saturday
MARTINEZ V HAALAND IS DAVID AGAINST GOLIATH!
You don’t imagine 5ft 9in Martinez will be marking 6ft 4in Erling Haaland at corners in Sunday’s Manchester derby.
The photographers will be trying their hardest to show how one towers over the other.
But for all that the United defender’s height has been highlighted, you have to be impressed with how he has bounced back from his initial struggles. He’s shown good aggression, as if he wants to let his critics know he can handle the Premier League.
There is no greater challenge than Haaland, though, and this battle is one reason why Sunday’s derby will make for interesting viewing.
Lisandro Martinez (left) and Erling Haaland (right) will go head-to-head this weekend
TRENT’S GOT A HUGE POINT TO PROVE
Amid all the noise about his ability as a defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold will feel as if he’s got a point to prove.
He’s a fixture in the Liverpool team, but not for England and that’s created a debate.
I feel the criticism of Gareth Southgate has been over the top, however.
Alexander-Arnold isn’t the greatest defensively so that is why he isn’t featuring for his country.
But how the right back would love to show his worth with his club now.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has a point to prove after not playing for England over the break
ARSENAL RISK FALLING INTO CONTE’S TRAP
Arsenal will look to control Saturday’s north London derby. They will want to keep the ball and take the game to Tottenham.
But that risks playing into Antonio Conte’s hands. He loves it when his team can sit tight and strike on the counter.
It’s a specialty of Conte’s. With Son Heung-min now finding form, they could do damage to Arsenal.
WILL IT BE LEEDS BLOOD AND THUNDER DESPITE MARSCH ON SIDELINES?
There will be no Jesse Marsch on the touchline against Aston Villa. He’ll be serving his ban after that red card at Brentford.
Marsch wants blood and thunder from his players on the pitch, and he brings that in the technical area. Leeds started this season well, but then fell into a poor patch and need to strike a balance.
COUTINHO MUST PRODUCE MORE FOR GERRARD’S SAKE
Steven Gerrard has backed Philippe Coutinho but he’s still waiting for his faith in the Brazilian to be vindicated.
Coutinho has not registered a goal or an assist in the Premier League so far this season.
He’s talented, but Coutinho needs to produce more for Gerrard’s sake.
Philippe Coutinho needs to do better for Aston Villa to reward Steven Gerrard’s faith
MADNESS IF RODGERS IS SACKED NOW
It would be madness if Leicester were to lose to Nottingham Forest on Monday and sack Brendan Rodgers as a result. If they wanted a change, the time was at the start of this international break.
To announce a sacking now would make it seem as if the board are making it up as they go along, and that’s never good.