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Reds face test of character in bid for Champions League – Liverpool FC April Preview

After kicking off the month with a 3-1 win at home to Everton, the rest of April promises to be a pivotal period for Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool.

Taking seven points from a possible nine, with wins over Arsenal and Burnley and a 1-1 draw with Man City, March was a hugely impressive month for the Reds in the Premier League.

This continued as goals from Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi made light work of Ronald Koeman’s Everton at Anfield.

Following their 3-1 win in the Merseyside derby on April Fool’s Day, Klopp and his side must now look ahead to four more key clashes this month as they push for Champions League football.

Here’s what we can look forward to from the Reds over the next month, along with a guide to the Liverpool U23s and U18s as their respective campaigns continue.


First-Team Fixtures

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 22, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the second goal against West Bromwich Albion during the FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All times BST, all TV information based on UK schedule.


Form Guide & Talking Points

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 1, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the second goal against Everton with team-mate Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match, the 228th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last 10 Games (All Competitions): L-L-D-L-W-L-W-W-D-W

Kicking off April with a big win over their city rivals was a major positive for Liverpool, but a key talking point to emerge from that derby victory was an injury blow to Mane.

With Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge among those already sidelined, the sight of the Senegalese winger limping off on the hour mark at Anfield was a tragic one.

It remains to be seen how long Mane is ruled out for, but how Klopp navigates his absence is pivotal.

When Mane was away at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, the Reds undoubtedly suffered, and the Reds cannot afford another slump as they push for a top-four finish.

Fortunately, Origi’s performance replacing Mane in the derby was hugely encouraging, with the Belgian performing with the energy, vibrancy and vigour that hallmarked his successful 2015/16 form.

Origi is already Liverpool’s third-highest goalscorer for the season so far, and he could look to move ahead of Mane and Roberto Firmino for a surprise achievement if Klopp keeps his faith.

AFC Bournemouth's Steve Cook (second left) celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. 2016. (Picture by Adam Davy PA Wire/PA Images)

With the Merseyside derby now added to the ‘W’ pile, Liverpool face eight very different challenges between now and May.

Klopp’s side have now played each of the Premier League‘s top seven twice, with their remaining encounters coming against the calibre of opposition that they have routinely struggled against.

The visit of Bournemouth, for example, serves as a brutal reminder of the 4-3 loss at Dean Court back in December, and Liverpool will not wish to suffer a similar humiliation four months on.

The Reds’ ability to come up with the goods against lesser sides will be essential if they are to qualify for next season’s Champions League, with Klopp no doubt targeting 24 points from a possible 24.


Liverpool U23s

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Monday, March 13, 2017: Liverpool's captain Harry Wilson in action against Chelsea during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last 10 Games (All Competitions): D-W-W-W-L-W-W-W-W-W

All times BST, all TV information based on UK schedule.

Having suffered just one loss in their last 10 games, the Reds’ U23s head into April looking to continue an excellent run of form in two competitions.

Kicking off the month with a Premier League Cup clash at home to Norwich, Mike Garrity’s side will be pushing for a place in the semi-finals, where they could take on any of Swansea City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United, Reading, Portsmouth or Colchester United.

Meanwhile in Premier League 2, they will be vying with Man City for second place, with Everton seemingly having sealed the title already, with 44 points from 19 games.

With the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn regular features at first-team level now, it will be up to a mixed group to fuel a successful end to the season.


Liverpool U18s

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 17, 2016: Liverpool's Glen McAuley in action against Crystal Palace during the FA Youth Cup 3rd Round match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last 10 Games (All Competitions): L-W-W-D-L-W-W-D-W-D

  • Reading (A) – U18 Premier League – April 8, 11am KO – Not on UK TV

All times BST, all TV information based on UK schedule.

Neil Critchley‘s U18s rounded off March with a 1-1 draw with West Ham at Kirkby, with Okera Simmonds’ opener highlighting another bright talent emerging at the academy.

With personnel shifting about as the season comes to a close, it will be down to the Reds’ new breed to propel them to next season’s UEFA Youth League.

Reading, Arsenal and Chelsea stand in their way, but having already defeated Blackburn Rovers and drawn with the Hammers, Simmonds, Glen McAuley and Co. can be confident of a strong end to the season.

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