Liverpool look like a title-winning team, but barely a quarter of the way through the Premier League season, there will be hurdles to come - starting with Manchester City on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp`s side hold a six-point lead over City after 11 games, but with heightened attention on Anfield, they enter a pivotal period of travelling and a heavy schedule.
Is it theirs to win? And what will Klopp be wary of over the coming months? We take a look at what could go wrong for Liverpool…
Liverpool vs Man City
November 10, 2019, 4:00pm
Winter is coming...
Klopp has routinely said it - November and December could be the most difficult months in Liverpool`s season.
On Sunday they face perhaps their toughest test against title rivals Man City but that Super Sunday clash kicks off a run of potentially 14 games in 54 days through to the Anfield match with Sheffield United on January 2, with a Club World Cup in Qatar thrown in the middle and a rescheduled game with West Ham to fit in elsewhere.
Klopp doesn`t see the international break as a rest, either. It`s a period where most of his players are out of his control, travelling all over, and at the mercy of others` training techniques and fitness schedules.
Including those two international games, some senior players may be playing a game every 3.6 days in that run.
Of course, Manchester City have a similarly heavy schedule, but the likelihood is Liverpool will have to field full-strength sides in their last two Champions League group games - at home to Napoli and away at RB Salzburg - to ensure finishing top of the group, a problem their rivals City shouldn`t have.
In the nine Premier League games between now and the FA Cup third round in early January, Liverpool have six home games, but face two of the current top four in Man City (home) and Leicester (away). The average position of their opponents in those nine games is 9.3.
Liverpool`s manic month
|Sat Nov 23||Crystal Palace (A)||Premier League|
|Wed Nov 27||Napoli (H)||Champions League|
|Sat Nov 30||Brighton (H)||Premier League|
|Wed Dec 4||Everton (H)||Premier League|
|Sat Dec 7||Bournemouth (A)||Premier League|
|Tue Dec 10||Red Bull Salzburg (A)||Champions League|
|Sat Dec 14||Watford (H)||Premier League|
|Tue Dec 17||Aston Villa (A)||Carabao Cup|
|Wed Dec 18||QF1 winner||Club World Cup|
|Sat Dec 21||tbc||Club World Cup|
|Thu Dec 26||Leicester (A)||Premier League|
|Sun Dec 29||Wolves (H)||Premier League|
|Thu Jan 2||Sheffield United (H)||Premier League|
|January 3-6||tbc - 3rd Round||FA Cup|
But City don`t have it any better. In the same period, the champions have five home games from 10, and face opposition with an average position of 8.7, including Liverpool (away), Chelsea (home), Man Utd (home), Arsenal (away) and Leicester (home).
A blip will come - it always does, and City have certainly had one already - but Liverpool will be hoping the length and severity of theirs is curbed.
Over-reliance and injuries
The criticism placed on Liverpool over the last 18 months has often been: What if one of the front three get injured?
Divock Origi, with his penchant for important goals, is capable of stepping in, and such are the free roles of the front three, losing one shouldn`t skew the other two.
But with Joel Matip out until after the international break, Liverpool have an issue. Dejan Lovren stepped in superbly in the win over Leicester in early October, but looked uneasy against Tottenham, and was routinely pinned by Wesley against Aston Villa.
He has been preferred to 22-year-old Joe Gomez, who Klopp says now has no problems after returning from a broken leg, though it is clear there is uncertainty in the German`s mind about who should partner Van Dijk.
City`s returning defence
Talking of injuries, City have certainly had theirs.
David Silva joined Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko as the latest casualty last weekend, while there are concerns over Ederson after he limped off midweek and Aymeric Laporte has been a huge long-term miss.
Despite the injuries, Guardiola says they have no intention to buy in January, though it`s not clear whether that is his own call or the club`s.
I think we are not going to buy. The club didn`t introduce me to the players they thought could help us, so without that, it`s not going to happen.
City do have the enviable luxury of being able to swap Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero around at free will, and if they stay in touch with Liverpool by the time their defence returns to full strength, it would be a huge plus.
Twenty-nine becomes 30 in May, and those Liverpool fans who last season allowed themselves to dream of a first title in nearly three decades will have sworn themselves to silence this time around.
There isn`t much title talk among match-going Liverpool fans; they`re 11 games in and looking fantastic, but have been here before.
There was a moment in the post-match interview with Sky Sports after the win over Tottenham where Sadio Mane allowed himself to speak about wanting to win the title, before looking at Jordan Henderson cheekily for approval, only for the Liverpool skipper to swiftly change the subject.
"Well I'm thinking it was my fault because I gave the ball away!"— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 27, 2019
Jordan Henderson admits he was at fault for the opener but was delighted to make amends later.
Watch the reaction to #LIVTOT on Sky Sports PL or follow online here: https://t.co/3GfsoXEyeM pic.twitter.com/ngqRtNuEnf
And Klopp, when answering a question recently regarding the title, was firm on his stance that it can change so quickly.
We need to play really, really well. We`re now on 28 points, blah blah, but you need to think what would have happened if we`d have lost today, how the questions would have been. He`s right, the eight-point lead has become six, and could have easily become three, all within the space of a fortnight.
It seems title talk is against the rules at Anfield, at least publicly.
But they can`t complain about the regularity of title questions. We`ve had Manchester United`s long-awaited first in 1993, we`ve had Blackburn, we`ve had Jose Mourinho, we`ve had Pep Guardiola, we`ve had the Invincibles, we`ve had more United dominance and we`ve had Leicester.
Liverpool winning the Premier League seems like the last big storyline in Premier League history. Many would love to see it, many wouldn`t, and that`s why there is so much attention on Anfield.
There isn`t a nervousness on the Kop just yet. As Gary Neville said on Sky Sports last month, there is a real trust from this Liverpool crowd put on their side. That is huge; winning from behind, or when things aren`t going your way, is a necessity for any title-winning side, and is often driven from the stands.
But the anxiety will come. It`s Liverpool`s to win.
Watch Liverpool vs Man City on Super Sunday from 4pm on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event; Kick-off 4.30pm