There is every chance that a number of Liverpool fans are sick with worry ahead of an Anfield triple-header that could serve to define this season, writes David Lynch.
A mouthwatering clash with bitter rivals Man United, a Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham, then a chance to lay down a marker against fellow title challengers Arsenal – it doesn’t get much more high stakes than this.
Of course, amid the excitement, it will be hard for many to ignore the fact that the Reds haven’t played particularly well across their last three league outings, or that one wrong move in any of their upcoming fixtures could be disastrous.
But that glass-half-empty feeling inspired by recent performances ignores one crucial aspect of fandom: that these are the weeks every supporter should live for.
Embracing the stress
Only last season, the majority of Liverpool games descended into a test of Kopites’ mental fortitude, while the gaps in between served as an enjoyable break from the latest insipid performance.
Back then, as Jurgen Klopp’s side meandered through a trophyless campaign that could not even be redeemed by a top-four finish, those fans would surely have killed for the ‘stress’ of three quickfire home games with so much on the line.
And that is particularly true when you consider that each of the upcoming fixtures will be played at an Anfield packed out with an extra 7,000 fans cheering on the home side.
The club’s biggest attendances in 50 years are coming up and, as well as a wonderful spectacle, they might even provide the extra boost required to get over the line during a gruelling run.
“We will need Anfield, we will need Anfield, definitely,” Klopp said ahead of the run of home games. “How I said, it’s really tough, and they’re all big games.
“It’s better than if these four games were away games, but it’s still a big task.”
Think of the possibilities
Ultimately, should Liverpool come out of this run with three victories and three good performances under their belt, then that will surely create a wave of confidence that can be ridden to the end of the season.
Former club captain Phil Thompson certainly sees things that way, believing the current crop’s encouraging position is all the more exciting given that they still haven’t hit top gear yet.
He told This Is Anfield: “There’s still a long way to go but I just feel there’s a lot more to come from this group of players.
“In recent games we’ve found a way to win and when we won the league we always found a way to get results.
“And I still think that midfield area we were all worried about is still not functioning 100 percent, but that’s what’s good about this team. We can play better than some of the games, but we’re sitting second in the league, so we have a great chance.
“It’s a busy period now in December and, if we come through this, we’ve got a great chance.”
John Barnes, too, sees a team that is capable of taking their hunt for major honours all the way thanks to the fine work done in recent transfer windows.
He said: “Last year, the midfield was obviously the problem, but we resisted the urge just to sign midfield players for the sake of it, and in the meantime we could sign some wonderful strikers that were the right age in Gakpo, Diaz and Nunez.
“This year, we’ve addressed our problems [in midfield], so it doesn’t surprise me at all [that they are challenging] because Liverpool do their homework as to the players that will fit into the style that they want.
“It’s pleasing and we are well in a title challenge.”
So, while it might be difficult for some to suppress the nerves ahead of a mammoth week for Liverpool, recent history shows us that it is far better to be in this position than to have nothing worth being nervous about.