Klopp set for balancing act in Premier League & Champions League – Liverpool FC April Preview

Liverpool face their biggest challenge of the season so far in the Champions League this month, along with four must-win Premier League clashes.


The Reds continued to make great strides in March, securing their place in the quarter-finals in Europe and winning three crucial ties over ‘lesser’ opposition on the domestic stage.

Their only blemish came with a 2-1 defeat away to Man United, but the way in which Jurgen Klopp‘s side have responded since, with back-to-back wins over Watford and Crystal Palace, is hugely encouraging.

April brings a bigger test, as Liverpool prepare to face off against Man City in the Champions League, having reached the last eight of Europe’s elite for the first time since 2009.

And keeping up their campaign for a second-placed finish in the league, they will need to ensure consistency in two competitions.

Here’s what to expect from Liverpool’s first team, U23s and U18s in April.

 

First-Team Fixtures & TV Info

PORTO, PORTUGAL - Wednesday, February 14, 2018: Liverpool's xxxx during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC on Valentine's Day at the Est·dio do Drag„o. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

* If Liverpool reach the semi-finals of the Champions League this will be moved to 12.30pm on April 21.

** If Man City reach the semi-finals of the Champions League this will be moved to 2.15pm on April 29.


 

Form Guide & Talking Points

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 31, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the winning second goal during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. (Pic by Dave Shopland/Propaganda)

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


While Klopp will stress the need for progress in the league, the key focus in April is on the Champions League, as Merseyside begins to dream of another European Cup triumph.

Having lost by a large margin away to City in September, the Reds responded with an impressive 4-3 victory over the champions-elect at Anfield in January.

This serves as hope for Liverpool as they prepare for their toughest test in the tournament so far this season, and their comfortable 5-0 aggregate win over Porto in the last 16 will only increase their confidence.

A home tie for the first leg could be seen as a disadvantage, but with City one win away from the league title and with a clash with United at the Etihad to come three days later, they could be distracted.

They need to strike early at Anfield if they are to hold off the tide and defeat Pep Guardiola’s phenomenal side, but few can argue against the Reds’ continental pedigree.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, March 5, 2018: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne during a training session at Melwoood ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Porto. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Klopp has a largely healthy squad to work with in a month that sees his side in action on six occasions, and rotating his selection will be imperative.

The return of Nathaniel Clyne following back surgery is a major boost, and the reintroduction of the right-back over the first three games of the month could be crucial.

Sandwiched between the two legs against City is the small matter of the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, providing a reminder that, like Guardiola, Klopp cannot afford to take his foot off the gas in the league.

The final trio of games to round off the month can certainly be deemed easy on paper, but Liverpool will still need to keep up the form that saw them dispatch of Watford and Palace.

Both Stoke and West Brom could be effectively relegated by their meetings with the Reds, though by the same token they may still be fighting, fiercely, for their place in the division.

 

Liverpool U23s

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2018: Liverpool's substitute Rafael Camacho celebrates scoring the second goal during the UEFA Youth League Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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



The Liverpool U23s have struck a miserable run of form, losing seven of their last eight games including a frustrating four-loss streak from the end of February through March.

Losing some of his most important players in the January transfer window clearly hampered Neil Critchley‘s progress with the young Reds, but with the likes of Harry Wilson and Marko Grujic shining on loan the positives are clear.

Critchley has been working with a new-look group, and April provides the perfect opportunity for these youngsters to prove their credentials with three big-game clashes.

Adam Lewis, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho will be among those eager to impress as the U23s take on Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea over an 18-day period.

Despite their disappointing results of late, Critchley’s side still find themselves just three points off the top of Division 1 in Premier League 2, having played one fewer game than leaders Leicester City.

The title is certainly still within reach, but it will likely take victory in each of their remaining games to do so.

 

Liverpool U18s

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 2018: Liverpool's Under-18 manager Steven Gerrard gies a half-time team-talk during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Brockhall Village Training Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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



Like their older counterparts, the U18s have struggled for consistency of late, with Steven Gerrard balancing his duties with the U19s while also navigating an ever-changing squad.

But as with the U23s, Gerrard’s youngsters still have a high chance of finishing the campaign as league champions, heading into April seven points off leaders United having played one less game.

That they take on United in front of the LFCTV cameras in their penultimate game of the season sets a clear objective for the U18s.

Still able to call upon the likes of Jones and Camacho, Gerrard will likely go full throttle in the final weeks of the season, with promising newcomers such as Niall Brookwell and Jack Bearne providing further thrust.

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