Premier League 2018-19: 5 fixtures that could shape Liverpool's season
Amidst all the World Cup talk, the fixture list for the 2018-19 Premier League season was announced. It is a high point of interest for fans of clubs, maybe not right now, but when the season approaches.
It is highly important to have a favourable schedule in the championship race in England. It does play a part in a team's fortunes. In a favourable scenario, the big games would be evenly spread throughout the year and long away trips would ideally not come after European games.
A certain run of games could make or break a club's season - examples include Manchester United in December last season, and Arsenal during the season before. In 2013-14, Liverpool travelled to both Manchester City and Chelsea within the space of three days during the always busy festive period. Narrow losses in both games proved to be crucial in the eventual title race, as the Reds finished in second, two points behind City.
There are certain games over the course of the season which could shape up fortunes and determine how the season would go. It could be a game against rivals or at crucial points during the season. Liverpool are no different.
Their season could rest on the outcomes of a few games. For the title aspirations pictured by the Reds, they must be consistent and be a solid team with lots of character. But there are some games which are more important than others.
This list will not focus on rivalries so while games against Everton and Manchester United are the first to be sought out by Reds fans, they might not carry the consequences of the following fixtures.
#1 Liverpool vs West Ham United (11 August)
The first game of the season is always a very important one for every team. At the start of the season, everybody wants to get up and running. It sets the tone for what to expect for the rest of the season most of the time. In Liverpool's case, it happens more often than not. For seven consecutive seasons, Liverpool's opening game was an indicator for their season ahead.
From 2008 until 2014, the Reds won their opening game three times. They finished in the top four all three times. Liverpool beat Arsenal 4-3 away from home in their opening game in 2016-17, they finished one point ahead of the Gunners that season.
It is a big advantage that the opening fixture of the season is at home. There is no better way to start the season than a convincing win in front of the home supporters. It will also be key for the new signings to get off to a good start.
Naby Keita and Fabinho would be likely to start against West Ham and they will want to impress early on. This is a big opportunity for Liverpool to hit the ground running as history has suggested that their opening game decides the fate of their season.