The international calendar came to a close for the final time in 2023 this week, seeing most players relieved from their national duties until March 2024.
November’s batch of matches saw the third international break in the 2023/24 campaign – seeing a stoppage in Premier League fixtures almost every four weeks – resulting in only 12 game weeks taking place so far and fixture congestion in December potentially proving costly.
Liverpool, for the third time this season, have been reintroduced from the break with an early 12.30 kick off, this time against treble-winning champions Manchester City.
Liverpool have suffered three defeats and three draws in eight games when playing in the early kick-off slot since the start of 2022/23.
“HOW CAN YOU DO THIS!?” 🤬
— Hayters TV (@HaytersTV) November 12, 2023
Gareth Roberts, founder of fan platform The Anfield Wrap labelled all the breaks as “unnecessary” adding how the Premier League are “crowbarring” games into the viewership’s’ lives but at the hinderance of those who go to the games.
He said: “It shouldn’t be Jurgen Klopp standing in front of the cameras talking about it, it should be the executives at Liverpool going to the Premier League. The standard of football isn’t to the usual level, particularly after an international break.
“The game at the weekend, for me, should be the absolute prime slot (Sunday 4.30).
“Stepping off the plane on 24/48 hours before, the long-haul flights take it out of anyone and how your body clock is affected. In no world is that ideal preparation for an intense physical activity like football.”
Roberts fears for the future of South American players in the Premier League suggesting that transfer policy may be revised due to scheduling around international breaks.
“The clubs might start thinking twice about signing players if it is having such a big affect. when they are key to your side, which is the case at Liverpool – you wonder whether they will refrain from signing them which would be a shame because a lot of talent comes from that region.”
Having overcome both Wolves and Everton in the previous games after an international break in the 12.30 slot, Klopp’s side have a different test at the Etihad this Saturday as they look to end their torrid run in the Premier League at the Cityzens dating back to 2015 for their last win in Manchester.
The impact of the African Cup of Nations will also have an impact on Liverpool seeing Mohamed Salah and Joel Matip leave Merseyside to represent Egypt and Cameroon respectively.
AFCON is due to start on 24 January and will run until the 11 February.
Previous introductions to the Premier League after internationals
The Reds struggled in the 22/23 campaign, which saw the winter World Cup put a stoppage to domestic football. Liverpool returned to face Saturday’s opponents, Manchester City in the Carabao Cup with a somewhat depleted squad. That ended in a 3-2 loss before they went on to lose to Brentford only three games later.
After the break in March 2023, a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City and two tight draws against Chelsea and Arsenal saw this run prove detrimental to their Champions League hopes.
Klopp’s side also struggled in the previous season, seeing unexpected draws with Brighton and Benfica creep up on a squad full of internationals, alongside dropped points against Arsenal and, once again, Manchester City.
A round-up of the Redmen
Liverpool saw a handful of their players in action over the continents, with many having a positive impact for their countries.
Hungary captain Dominik Szoboszlai enjoyed an emphatic victory against Montenegro, contributing with two goals in a 3-1 victory at the Puskas Arena to see Marco Rossi’s men confirm their place at Euro 2024 in Germany.
GENIUS from Dominik Szoboszlai!
The Hungary captain and @LFC star delivers a moment of magic to equalise against Montengro
— Viaplay Sports UK (@ViaplaySportsUK) November 19, 2023
Luis Diaz, watched by his emotional father, managed to guide Columbia to an historic win over Brazil in their World Cup qualifier, with two well-guided headers.
Darwin Nunez provided Jurgen Klopp with a selection headache after his top form for Uruguay, with the maverick forward netting three goals, including a precise finish on the break against reigning World Cup champions, Argentina.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was trusted by manager Gareth Southgate in his well-reported and previously tested midfield role once more. The versatile player turned out twice for England, against Malta and in a disappointing draw against North Macedonia.
Harvey Elliot proved his ability to be on the cusp of the England senior squad as he turned out for the u21s side in ruthless fashion.
The 20-year-old netted twice at Goodison Park, in a strong side alongside centre-half Jarrell Quansah, as The Young Lions overcame Northern Ireland 3-0 on Tuesday. Elliot also scored in a strong win over Serbia the previous Friday.
Allison Becker, Virgil Van Dijk, Cody Gakpo, Alexis Mac Allister and Mohammed Salah all turned out for their respective countries twice over the break.
Whereas Diogo Jota, Kostas Tsimikas and Wataru Endo all featured on the bench at least once, under possible management instructions from back in Merseyside.