Liverpool could leap above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table when they play each other in the dreaded 12.30pm Saturday kick-off next weekend.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is the most vocal critic of the Saturday lunchtime slot and his record in them shows why he hates them.
The early weekend slot is important to the Premier League due to the UK 3pm blackout of English football on Saturday afternoons.
It is also prime time in key Asian markets, which means the top six teams are often chosen to maximise the Premier League’s brand.
And this has regularly brought Klopp’s views on the subject to the forefront, with the German once involved in an infamous exchange with BT Sport journalist Des Kelly after a 1-1 draw with Brighton in 2020.
Speaking two years earlier, Klopp said: “I like night games, Saturday night is in general a night people don’t go to bed too early, it’s a good time to play football.
“Much better than at 12 — I’m hungry at 12, not at 7:45!”
But is there a deeper reason behind Klopp’s distaste of the traditional early afternoon game ahead of their visit to City, which will be live on talkSPORT.
What is Jurgen Klopp’s record in 12:30pm kickoffs?
Klopp won four of his nine early kick-off games (with three defeats) during his first season in the Premier League in 2015/16.
That regressed to just three victories but still three losses out of nine the following campaign in 2016/17.
Liverpool then slipped to relegation form in the lunchtime slot in Klopp’s third year, with one win in eight games that also included a 5-0 hammering to Manchester City.
The German looked to have corrected his early morning demons during the 2021/22 season where he came close to a quadruple.
Liverpool claimed four wins from four on the early schedule as they ultimately finished on 92 points, one behind champions City.
But their old foes reared their heads as the Reds’ form took a nose dive last term, with three defeats and zero wins from a possible six.
Liverpool’s record in 12:30pm kickoffs last season
Fulham 2-2 Liverpool
Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool
Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea
Bournemouth 1-0 Liverpool
Manchester City 4-1 Liverpool
Why does he hate them?
Klopp’s main gripe with 12:30pm kick-offs, aside from his stomach, are due to a lack of player welfare around the scheduling.
If a team plays a Champions League match on a Wednesday night then the following day is typically a recovery one.
However, if they are then scheduled to play first on Saturday that leaves them having to travel Friday night – unless the game is local – after only one session.
Kicking off later in the day therefore makes a sizeable difference to a club’s preparations in terms of travel, training and sleep.
Klopp himself said ahead of the Brighton match in 2020: “If you play in the afternoon obviously the boys sleep longer and you can ask whoever you want, sleep is a big part in recovery.”
This means that a lack of proper recovery between fixtures will lead to an increased risk of injuries to players.
As was the case when Klopp exploded on BT Sport when James Milner sustained a hamstring issue at the Amex three years ago.
The game came after Liverpool suffered a 2-0 defeat to Atalanta away in Italy on Wednesday.
Liverpool’s absence from the Champions League this season will theoretically spare them from many risky 12:30pm turnarounds, with Thursday’s Europa League participants in action Sunday instead.
But their upcoming showdown with Man City comes straight after another intense international break.
That will be the thirteenth 12:30/12:45pm kick-off following an international break since Klopp joined Liverpool – seven more than Tottenham and Chelsea in second.
He said: “How can you put a game like this on Saturday at 12.30pm?
“Honestly, the people making the decisions, they cannot feel football. It is just not possible.
“This is the moment the world pays the most to see a football game. And by the way, the players will all come back on the same plane, all the South American players, picking them up from different countries.
“You have to fight your way through the most difficult league in the world and be ready on Thursday and on Sunday, and Thursday. And if the Premier League has the opportunity to do it, be ready on Saturday at 12.30pm!”