The extent of Liverpool’s fixture schedule congestion under Jurgen Klopp was magnified following Saturday’s FA Cup draw with West Ham United.
The disbelief that rippled around Anfield at the prospect of yet another FA Cup replay on the final whistle in Liverpool’s fourth-round clash with West Ham was troublingly poignant.
Since Klopp’s arrival as Liverpool manager, and the Reds’ continued success in domestic cups and the Europa League, his side’s capabilities have been tested.
Remarkably, the clash marked the ninth time Klopp has steeled his side for action in the first month of 2016, with January bringing League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League action.
This is the most fixtures Liverpool have played in January in the club’s history, highlighting the task at hand for Klopp.
With this stalemate the last outing of January, this would typically signal the end of a busy winter schedule.
But for Klopp’s Liverpool, it is set to continue.
A 0-0 draw at Anfield ensures that the Reds must now travel to West Ham’s Boleyn Ground in the second week of February, adding to a busy fixture list that also includes two legs in the Europa League round of 32 against FC Augsburg, and the League Cup final against Manchester City.
This Wembley final has forced the postponement of another fixture, with the second Merseyside derby of the season initially scheduled for the end of February.
Playing seven times in February will bring Klopp’s record to 33 games in 135 days, or just over a game every four days on average.
According to sports scientist Simon Brundish, this is more than any other team in Europe.
This could go a length to explaining Liverpool’s slow start to life under Klopp, with the former Borussia Dortmund manager unable to implement his high-intensity training methods, as the schedule dictates a constant cycle of rest and match preparation.
“The amount of games that we have had, you cannot train that much. We play and recover, play and recover, so it is hard to get any kind of training in.
“All we do is tactical stuff. It is intense but I wouldn’t say it is intense on the body
“I honestly don’t see how you could say it is because of training that all those injuries have come about.
“We haven’t trained enough for them to happen.”
You won’t find anyone in the Liverpool camp complaining about being in with a chance of success in four competitions over halfway through the season.
But it would not be remiss to expect Klopp’s side to not reach their peak until they are able to enjoy a full pre-season under the German.
LIVERPOOL 0-0 WEST HAM
- MATCH REPORT: Reds held for East London replay
- PLAYER RATINGS: Brannagan wins Man of the Match
- OPINION: Klopp’s youngsters produce spirited, classy showing
- TALKING POINTS: Brannagan and Stewart shine, but finishing eludes
- TACTICAL REVIEW: Lack of attacking chemistry sees Reds held
- KLOPP’S PRESSER: “I think we deserved the win a little bit more”
- FAN REACTIONS: “Well that was painful!”
- MEDIA REACTION: “FA Cup football with the Premier League handbrake on”
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