The biggest challenge facing Liverpool over the next six months

Jurgen Klopp the manager

The second half of the season is here, with Liverpool enjoying their best campaign for years. Where do they go from here?

Jurgen Klopp the manager

Most predicted a solid season from Liverpool this year, with Jurgen Klopp's side tipped to run Manchester City closest, although much in the same way that Manchester United were 'close' last year.

City were expected to run away with things, but here we are at Christmas and Liverpool sit four points clear at the top of the Premier League as the only undefeated side in England.

The Reds are now starting to believe they can end nearly 30 years of hurt, even if the only two side in the past ten years to lead at Christmas and not win the league was Liverpool

The real test is yet to come, naturally, although what constitutes their biggest challenge is not simple to pinpoint.

 

You could easily argue that balancing their squad is the decisive factor this season. They struggled to keep players fresh towards the end of last season and performances suffered, but that does appear to have been addressed with the summer's additions.

Instead, Liverpool have to be most mindful of how they react once their momentum is upset.

Klopp's team has managed to win even when performing poorly this year, scrapping for victories and picking up wins in a routine.

All likelihood points to their undefeated run being upset at some point - only one team has gone undefeated in the Premier League era, after all -  and their reaction and ability to bounce back will be vital.

Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson of Liverpool with Sir Alex Ferguson of Man Utd during the Liverpool v Manchester United FA Barclaycard Premiership match at Anfield on December 1, 2002 in...

The last time Liverpool enjoyed an undefeated run to start a Premier League season like this was in the 02/03 season; Gerard Houllier's men won nine of their first twelve before losing to Middlesborough, a result that started a run of six defeats, five draws, and zero wins in 11 games.

Liverpool won eight of their first ten in the 08/09 season before losing to Tottenham Hotspur, their first defeat of the season, and subsequently won just five of their next 12.

A brilliant run of 14 wins in 16 games over the second half of the 13/14 season left Liverpool on the verge of glory. That run ended with a loss at Anfield to Chelsea, however, and then Brendan Rodgers' side threw away a 3-0 lead at Crystal Palace to end their hopes of a title.

If Klopp is to turn Liverpool into winners, he will simply have to overcome this unfortunate pattern of the Reds' recent past.

Kolo Toure of Liverpool consoles the dejected Luis Suarez of Liverpool following their team's 3-3 draw during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at...

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