By 90Min
September 19, 2018

Liverpool are expected to do well this season. After a summer of heavy investment, many have tipped Jurgen Klopp's team to offer the strongest challenge to Premier League favourites Manchester City, while their record-breaking* run to the Champions League final season has resulted in optimism for more of the same on a European front.

Equipped with a world class attack, supported by important signings in key areas, the Reds duly obliged and started the new season by winning each of their opening four games leading up to the September international break.

Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Facing West Ham, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Leicester in those games, four wins was perhaps nothing less than would have been expected. But a run of seven more games against much tougher opposition in a three-week period to follow has presented a real challenge.

That started with an away clash against a direct Premier League rival and was immediately followed by facing a fearsome team featuring a central striker who has averaged just over 34 goals per season over the last eight years, flanked by the two most expensive players in history.

So far, Liverpool have come through unscathed, winning both games. Beating Tottenham at Wembley was a landmark win after being humiliated 4-1 in the same fixture a year ago, while the 3-2 Champions League victory over Paris Saint-Germain is a statement.

What is surprising is that in neither game, which was expected to be a significant test for Liverpool, did the opposition play well. A tired looking Spurs were just a shadow of the team they have shown themselves to be in recent seasons, why Neymar's virtually anonymous game summed up PSG's dreadfully poor night. That it ended so closely and took a last minute Liverpool winner actually flattered the French champions.

Their opponents didn't play well in those two games, yet neither did Liverpool particularly. Given that they won both fixtures it is agreeable to argue that performances don't matter and, if anything, it even bodes well for the Reds that they can still win while not at their best.

But Liverpool haven't actually been tested by a top opponent that has played well and will have to find a better level soon as the tough fixtures keep coming.

A home Premier League game against Southampton at the weekend is infinitely winnable, but that is followed by back-to-back games against early pace-setters Chelsea.

The first clash will see the pair meet at Anfield in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday September 25, a game in which both clubs could field heavily rotated teams, with the second just four days later at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. That is the big one for Liverpool.

Just a few days after that is an away Champions League trip to Napoli, and then four days later Manchester City are visitors to Anfield back in the Premier League on October 7. Liverpool were the only team that gave City real problems last season, winning every time they played.

The reigning champions will be out for revenge, to prove that they have grown since last season and finally found a way to nullify the threats that hurt them on four separate occasions.

Liverpool have made a good start to this nightmare run, but circumstances have been kind so far and the real tests are coming thick and fast now...

*most goals scored by a team in a single Champions League season (47)

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