Relegation triple-header & a return to Europe – Key dates for Liverpool in February

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Liverpool emerged from January with five league wins from five, and now head into a busy month they have at times struggled in under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds’ stunning form this season continued in the first month of 2020, with victories over Sheffield United, Tottenham, Man United, Wolves and West Ham in the Premier League.

Having been tipped to drop points at some stage, while they contended with a host of injuries, dominating their opposition throughout was an sign of sheer quality.

Klopp’s side finished the month 19 points clear at the top of the league, and now moving into February face an interesting spell as European competition returns.

Here are the key dates for the diary throughout February, including those for the academy and women’s sides too.

 

February 1 – Southampton (H)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 17, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) and Southampton's Ryan Bertrand during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds begin the month with a visit from one of the Premier League‘s most-improved sides, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints making the trip to Anfield.

Having won just two of their first 13 league games of the season, including a 9-0 humiliation at home to Leicester, Southampton have now won seven of their last 11, inspired by the form of Danny Ings.

Liverpool will remain favourites, particularly as it is at Anfield, but the prospect of a win to gain a 22-point lead on Man City ahead of their clash with Tottenham the following day is certainly tougher than at St Mary’s in August.

 

February 2-13 – First-team winter break

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, November 4, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool FC and KRC Genk. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is a first for England, and the teething problems certainly betray it as such: the first two weeks of February brings the inaugural winter break.

Klopp has long planned to allow the first-team squad a holiday during this period, to allow his players to recharge ahead of a final push in the Premier League and Champions League, and this was threatened by an FA Cup replay.

But, controversially, the manager has stuck with his guns, and the senior group will leave Merseyside for short breaks and individual training after taking on Southampton.

 

February 4 – Shrewsbury (H)

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 17, 2019: Liverpool’s manager Neil Critchley speaks with substitute Jack Bearne during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, Neil Critchley will lead his under-23s side into the fourth-round replay at home to Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.

This follows his stint in the dugout for the League Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa in December, though he should be able to call upon a stronger squad than that night at Villa Park.

Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones will be among those available, along with academy regulars such as Ki-Jana Hoever, Sepp van den Berg, Pedro Chirivella, Liam Millar and Joe Hardy.

Victory would set up a fifth-round tie away to Chelsea, to be played at the start of March.

 

February 9 – Everton Women (A); Sunderland U23s (H)

Liverpool Women's Manager Vicky Jepson with her players shows her dejection after the final whistle during the FA Women's Super League match at Anfield, Liverpool. ( Nick Potts/PA Wire/PA Images)

While the first team are still away, both the under-23s and women’s sides will be in action on a busy Sunday.

Vicky Jepson will lead her Reds to Goodison Park to take on Everton in the Women’s Super League, following on from the reverse clash at Anfield in November, when they lost 1-0.

Elsewhere, Critchley’s youngsters turn out again five days after the replay as they host Sunderland in the Premier League Cup, with victory enough to seal progress to the last 16.

 

February 14 – UEFA Youth League draw

GRÖDIG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool's Thomas Hill celebrates scoring the second goal during the final UEFA Youth League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Untersberg-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With their last game having come in December, February will restart the under-19s’ European campaign as they learn their opponents in the last 16 of the UEFA Youth League.

Barry Lewtas leads the young Reds in the youth equivalent of the Champions League, with Critchley in support, and the likes of Williams, Elliott and Leighton Clarkson have been ever-presents so far.

Liverpool cannot be drawn against Salzburg if they progress via the playoffs, but Ajax, Atalanta, Bayern Munich, Benfica, Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid are all possibilities at this stage.

 

February 15 – Norwich (A)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, August 9, 2019: Norwich City's Grant Hanley reacts after scoring an own goal during the opening FA Premier League match of the season between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having returned to Melwood at the beginning of the week, Klopp’s squad will make the trip to Carrow Road to take on relegation favourites Norwich.

The Canaries have been in dreadful form throughout a season that began with a 4-1 loss at Anfield, and currently sit six points adrift at the bottom of the table, having won just four of their 24 games.

There are 53 points separating Liverpool and Norwich, but Daniel Farke will be hoping a busy January that brought the signings of Ondrej Duda and Lukas Rupp could boost his hopes.

 

February 16 – Chelsea Women (A)

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA - Monday, July 22, 2019: Liverpool's manager Vicky Jepson speaks to her players at half-time during a friendly match between Liverpool FC Women and Metropolitan Conference All Stars at Jordan Field at the Harvard Stadium on day seven of the club's pre-season tour of America. Liverpool won 6-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mirroring the first team’s draw, Liverpool face a trip to Chelsea in the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup, in a much tougher test than in the previous round.

Jepson’s side put eight past second-tier Blackburn to advance, but come up against a Blues outfit who are eight places and 26 points above them in the league.

 

February 18 – Atletico (A)

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, December 10, 2019: Liverpool players line-up with the mascots before the final UEFA Champions League Group E match between FC Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Champions League resumes in February, and Klopp’s Reds will travel back to the Wanda Metropolitano for the first leg of their last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid.

Having won the European Cup there back in June, this is the next step in Liverpool’s defence of the trophy, and they come up against a hit-and-miss Atletico, currently fifth in La Liga.

Away to Diego Simeone’s Rojiblancos will never be a straightaway contest, though, so the Reds will need to be at their best.

 

February 22 – Man City U18s (H)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2019: Liverpool's Jack Cain (C) celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates during the Under-18 FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC at Finch Farm. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unlike at first-team level this season, Man City are currently topping the U18 Premier League with Liverpool second—though the gap between is significantly smaller at just three points, with the young Reds having played a game fewer.

Lewtas’ side will host their title rivals at Kirkby towards the end of February, and he is likely to call upon a host of new faces as his reshuffle of the ranks sets in.

A win over City would be huge for the U18s, and the likes of Tyler Morton, Tom Hill and Layton Stewart could be key.

 

February 23 – Huddersfield U23 (H)

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Friday, September 20, 2019: Liverpool's Pedro Chirivella celebrates after team-mate Luis Longstaff scores an injury time equalising goal during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at Holmes Park. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If the U23s fail to win against Sunderland on February 9, their hopes of progressing in the Premier League Cup rest on the visit of Huddersfield two weeks later.

If they lose to Sunderland and both sides draw in their final game of Group F it could depend on goal difference or a head-to-head record between the young Reds, the Black Cats and Wigan.

 

February 24 – West Ham (H)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 29, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores the first goal from a penalty-kick during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Less than a month after the 2-0 win at the London Stadium, Liverpool take on West Ham again in the Premier League, this time at Anfield.

David Moyes certainly lacked ambition at home, and it is unlikely a side who are edging closer to relegation will take a more progressive approach on the road.

 

February 29 – Watford (A)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 14, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi shoots during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. (Pic by Richard Roberts/Propaganda)

Liverpool end February with a trip to Vicarage Road, with Watford in a similar position to Norwich and West Ham as they battle against the drop.

The Reds will need to maintain their focus in these three fixtures, of course, but they are three in a host of winnable ties on the road to the title.

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