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5 things to look forward to now the international break is over

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Liverpool did not emerge from the international break unscathed, far from it, but its end means domestic action is back and there’s plenty to look forward to in the near future.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side find themselves in a strong position with just less than a third of the season behind them, even if the defeat at West Ham was a sour one.

Apologies if you had tried to rid your mind of that!

Top of the Champions League group, into a League Cup quarter-final and four points from the top in the Premier League, that’s not bad going with more than six months left of 2021/22.

The Reds’ areas for improvement are clear, shipping fewer goals and restoring balance is toward the top of that list and those returning from injury should help Klopp’s side do just that.

And here’s what we have to look forward to as they aim to do just that in the coming weeks and months.

 

A trip to San Siro

MILAN, ITALY - Saturday, September 6, 2003: A section of the San Siro Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The historic stadium has long been on course to be demolished as AC Milan and Inter look to build a new and improved stadium, although it’s currently under discussion with the Mayor.

Nevertheless, the Champions League group meeting with Milan in the first week of December could be Liverpool’s last trip to the ground in its current state.

The Reds have met Inter on the hallowed turf in 1965 and 2008 but this will be the first time Liverpool and Milan will meet at the iconic venue.

An away day to remember.

 

Stevie’s Anfield return

Steven Gerrard mural (PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

It’s all going to be a bit strange, isn’t it?

He’ll be decked out in Aston Villa gear and plotting Liverpool’s downfall, he’s already said as much.

But it’s a great opportunity for Gerrard after his time with Rangers and there will be a desire to see him flourish, just not on December 11 and against the Reds full stop.

He won’t be the only familiar face with his assistant manager Gary McAllister and Danny Ings all having graced the Anfield turf in a Liverpool kit previously, it’s going to be some occasion.

 

Champions League last-16 draw

NYON, SWITZERLAND - Monday, December 14, 2020: The draw pot for Liverpool FC during the UEFA Champions League 2020/21 Round of 16 draw at the UEFA Headquarters, the House of European Football. (Photo Handout/UEFA)

With a 100 percent record in the group stage after four games, the Reds’ name is already locked into one of those plastic balls that always looks so tricky to open.

The draw is set for December 13 and Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus have also booked their place as group winners, meaning they will not be possible opposition for Liverpool.

PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, Barcelona and Villareal are possible opponents, with English sides still off the table in this round.

And by looking forward to the draw we mean the actual reveal of the fixtures, not the hour preamble that sends you to sleep.

 

The Boxing Day fixture

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 2, 2018: Two Liverpool supporters wearing Christmas jumpers featuring Jürgen Klopp "Merry Kloppmas" before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC at Anfield, the 232nd Merseyside Derby. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

There was not one last season but Leeds await this time around, at Anfield and with an early 12.30pm kickoff.

It’s a staple of the English fixture list and it’s reaped rewards for Liverpool in recent years with five successive victories on Boxing Day from 2014 to 2019.

The aggregate score during that period was 15-0, the Reds know how to deliver a belated Christmas present.

The wish will be for the same again in 2021 with the pressure only intensifying from there on out in the league.

 

Elliott’s return drawing closer

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 28, 2021: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is one for the New Year.

Harvey Elliott has been making positive progress in his recovery from his nasty ankle injury and it was always expected that he would only return in 2022.

How early into the year remains to be seen but it’s certainly a comeback that will see the excitement grow once he makes the all-important return to team training.

Expectations should be carefully managed, as they were at the start of the campaign, but he can certainly have an influence on Liverpool’s season and put down the foundations for 2022/23.

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