January has often been a difficult month for Liverpool in the six seasons since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield.
It is a crucial period of any campaign where, on the back of the hectic Christmas schedule, the games continue to come thick and fast but legs and minds are completely sapped of energy and creativity.
Next month could be the most crucial January of Klopp’s Anfield reign though, with hopes of a genuine three-way battle for the title between Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the balance after Pep Guardiola’s side moved nine points clear of the Reds on Wednesday night.
Liverpool have failed to win 57 per cent of their January games since Jurgen Klopp arrived
The Reds are in mixed form and now find themselves nine points behind leaders Man City
LIVERPOOL’S JANUARY 2022 SCHEDULE
January 2 – Chelsea (A)
January 6 – Arsenal (A) Carabao Cup semi-final first leg
January 9 – Shrewsbury Town (H) FA Cup
January 13 – Arsenal (H) Carabao Cup semi-final second leg
January 15 – Brentford (H)
January 23 – Crystal Palace (A)
*All Premier League unless stated
The schedule is busy for Liverpool with three Premier League games, a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal and an FA Cup third-round tie at home to Shrewsbury all squeezed in.
As it stands Klopp’s side face a mouthwatering trip to Chelsea on January 2, host both Shrewsbury – in the FA Cup – on January 9 and Brentford on January 15 before then heading to Crystal Palace on January 23.
The two legs of the Arsenal League Cup tie have been pencilled in for January 6 at the Emirates and January 13 at Anfield.
On paper the fixture computer has been relatively kind but it’s worth remembering that Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita are going to be absent for most of the month due to their involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Players are scheduled to depart for international duty from December 27 but Premier League sides managed to secure an extension so their key men can play in the first matches of 2022.
Missing your two best attackers is obviously a problem, especially in a squad as thin as Liverpool’s, and the notorious struggles they have faced under Klopp in January suggest it could be a tough month.
In total, Klopp has overseen 44 matches across all competitions in January since arriving at Liverpool and has won just 19. They have drawn 11 and lost 14, meaning the Reds have failed to win almost 57 per cent of their January games under the German.
Klopp’s first January in charge after replacing Brendan Rodgers as manager in the October 2015 wasn’t too bad, given he was still thrusting his system onto his players and getting to grips with English football.
The German started January 2016 with a 2-0 defeat at West Ham but then beat Stoke in the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals and drew at League Two Exeter City in the FA Cup, giving Liverpool a replay they could do without.
In Kopp’s first January at Anfield, Wayne Rooney scored as Manchester United won at Anfield
Liverpool concluded January 2016 with a 5-4 win at Norwich thanks to Adam Lallana’s winner
The Reds then played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Arsenal, lost 1-0 to Manchester United at Anfield, beat Exeter in the FA Cup replay and won 5-4 at Norwich in one of the craziest games the Premier League has ever seen.
Liverpool then concluded the month with a penalty shootout win over Stoke in the second league of their League Cup semi-final and a 0-0 draw with West Ham in the FA Cup.
If the club was still getting to grips with Klopp’s arrival and implementation of his system in his first January in charge then his second was a month where Liverpool’s feint hopes of winning the title slipped away dramatically.
In the space of a month Liverpool dropped like a stone from second, just six points off leaders Chelsea on New Year’s Day, to fourth and 10 points adrift on February 1.
They won just one of their nine games in January 2017 and even that was only an FA Cup third-round replay against Plymouth Argyle from League One after drawing 0-0 at Anfield in the first match.
Things looked so promising as well, having beaten Manchester City 1-0 on New Year’s Eve and Everton by the same scoreline on December 19.
Liverpool needed a replay to beat Plymouth Argyle from League One in the FA Cup in 2017
Liverpool dropped points against Sunderland, Man United, Swansea and Chelsea in the league
But Liverpool dropped points against Sunderland, Man United, Swansea and Chelsea in the Premier League. They also lost both legs of a League Cup semi-final against Southampton and were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves.
Despite that, Liverpool managed to secure a fourth-place finish and a return to the Champions League – the first major checkpoint of improvement under Klopp.
The 2017-18 campaign was when Liverpool really started to emerge as a force under their German manager and was the season where they were beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
By their standards the January of 2018 was a huge success, winning four of their six matches.
Ragnar Klavan headed home a stoppage-time winner at Burnley on New Year’s Day before Virgil van Dijk announced his arrival at Anfield with an 84th-minute header in a Merseyside derby win over Everton in the FA Cup.
The battle at the summit of the Premier League that has raged between Liverpool and Man City in the past three seasons really took off when Klopp’s side blew Pep Guardiola’s team away in a thrilling 4-3 win at Anfield in January 2018.
West Brom knocked Liverpool out the FA Cup at Anfield as the woes continued in January 2018
But Liverpool did manage to beat Manchester away in a thrilling 4-3 win at Anfield that month
But Liverpool came crashing back down to earth eight days later when they were beaten 1-0 at Swansea and then dumped out of the FA Cup at home to West Brom a week later.
Liverpool concluded January 2018 with a resounding 3-0 win at Huddersfield, sparking a run that included just one defeat in 17 matches as the Reds secured a top-four finish and came runners-up in the Champions League.
January 2019 was the toughest of months for Liverpool fans to swallow. After that heartbreaking defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev, Klopp’s side looked ready to tackle the final hurdle and win one of football’s big prizes.
European success is ingrained into the soul of the club while domestic glory had too often eluded Liverpool and there was gathering momentum and belief that this would be the season they could do it.
But January ruined any chance they had. The month started with a result that would ultimately decide the title with Man City, who would finish top by a point, beating Liverpool 2-1 at the Etihad to inflict the Reds’ first league defeat of the season.
Liverpool actually finished January 2019 as Premier League leaders but their position was under mounting pressure from City and a draw at home to Leicester completely halted any momentum they had.
After losing at City, a much-changed Liverpool were beaten in the FA Cup by Wolves again. They then won at Brighton and at home to Crystal Palace but then came the hammer blow.
Manchester City inflicted revenge on Liverpool in January 2019, a victory that won the title
Harry Maguire also scored in front of the Kop as Leicester claimed a priceless point at Anfield
Harry Maguire’s equaliser in first-half stoppage time was enough to earn a point for Leicester at Anfield on January 30 before West Ham took another point off Liverpool at the London Stadium five days later.
Ultimately the five points dropped against City and Leicester (seven if you include the draw at West Ham at the start of February) stopped Liverpool from winning the title.
The Reds could not be denied in Europe though and a 2-0 win over Tottenham in Madrid sealed the club’s sixth Champions League title in June 2019.
Liverpool were just completely relentless in 2019-20. Fresh off their European glory and Premier League heartbreak, Klopp’s side were determined to win the Premier League and dropped just two points between August 9 and February 29.
They were so formidable in that season that even Klopp’s January blues were suppressed as Liverpool won six of their seven matches across that period.
There were Premier League wins over Sheffield United, Tottenham, Man United, Wolves and West Ham while Everton were beaten in the FA Cup. The only blip was a 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury in the fourth round of the competition.
Liverpool were relentless in January 2020 and put Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham to the sword
Manchester United were also beaten 2-0 at Anfield with Mohamed Salah scoring the second
Liverpool returned from the shutdown of football because of Covid-19 in the summer of 2020 to win their first domestic league title for 30 years, capping off a remarkable season under Klopp.
It’s well documented that the defence of that title did not go to plan in 2020-21, thanks to a combination of awful injuries and an abysmal run of form post-Christmas.
Despite losing Van Dijk for the rest of the season to injury in October 2020 – and later Joe Gomez – Liverpool were still top of the Premier League on January 1 of this year.
But then their form fell off a cliff. Frustrating draws at the end of the December with West Brom and Newcastle preceded a defeat at Southampton on January 4.
There was then a 4-1 win over a very youthful Aston Villa team in the FA Cup third round before back-to-back home Premier League games gave Klopp’s team the chance to turn things around after a bleak Christmas.
January 2021 proved to be the start of Liverpool’s collapse with Southampton beating them
Burnley ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home run in the league with Ashley Barnes’ goal
Man United managed to claim a point in a dull 0-0 before Burnley stunned English football by ending Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League with Ashley Barnes scoring the winner from the penalty spot.
Dropping points in those three league fixtures saw Klopp’s side drop down to fourth, knocking Liverpool completely out of the title race by the start of February as Man City embarked on a relentless run of form.
Somehow, Liverpool managed to halt their disastrous run in the middle of March and won eight of their last 10 matches (drawing the other two) to secure Champions League qualification.
Liverpool had looked back to their best with key defenders fit again and Diogo Jota, Salah and Mane all in devastating form in front of goal but they’ve dropped points in their last two Premier League games.
Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Leicester – and the 2-2 draw at Tottenham earlier in December – have left Liverpool third in the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea and nine off City with a game in hand.
It has been largely another stunning start to a campaign for Klopp’s team but, as we’ve seen before, those January blues can quickly shatter any hopes of silverware.