Football News

Premier League early kick-offs: Klopp’s least favourite slot costing Liverpool 0.3 points per game?

By Squawka News

Published: 10:58, 4 May 2024

Outgoing Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has fired another shot at the Premier League regarding their scheduling of early kick-offs. 

Thankfully for the Reds, they won’t be asked to partake in any more 12:30pm starts, with all three of their remaining fixtures due to begin no earlier than 4pm. However, that hasn’t stopped Klopp from continuing his battle against the ‘breakfast slot’, which he believes is a ‘crime’.

“They dare to give Thursday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday 12:30 – it’s a crime!” stated Klopp. “I was waiting for Amnesty International to go to them. I would like to be part of that meeting when someone says: ‘Liverpool 12:30’ and the whole room bursts into a laugh. The quickest turnaround in the whole world … Liverpool! It’s absolutely insane.”

The shorter recovery period and disrupted routine a 12:30pm Saturday kick-off can bring is undoubtedly difficult to deal with, but what effect has it had on Liverpool’s chances over the years?

How well do Liverpool deal with the early kick-offs?

Since Klopp’s arrival in 2015, 13.6% of Liverpool’s Premier League matches have been played in the early slot, which is at least 1.5% more than any other team. And since the 2016/17 campaign, the Reds have played 41 Saturday lunchtime matches, which is more than any other team.

Klopp’s overall win record in Premier League matches with Liverpool currently stands at 63%. However, this drops to just 49% across matches kicking off at 12:30pm on a Saturday. That’s a fall from 2.1 points per game to 1.8. The margins between Liverpool and Manchester City have been fine over recent title races with the Reds twice losing out to Pep Guardiola’s men by a single point, while last season, the Reds missed out on the Champions League by four points after dropping points in all six of their 12:30pm kick-offs — drawing three and losing three.

Liverpool’s record this season in the early slot has been pretty strong, with the Reds taking 14 points from six matches; at least seven more than any other team, though that is, of course, influenced by them playing more matches. Their only 12:30pm slip-ups came in a 1-1 draw away at title rivals Manchester City in November and a 2-2 stalemate against West Ham last time out.

However, rivals Man City have only been asked to play on Saturday lunchtime three times, going unbeaten and taking seven points. Fellow rivals and current leaders Arsenal have only played in this slot once so far, beating Crystal Palace 5-0 back in January, though the Gunners will take on Bournemouth at 12:30pm this Saturday.

How does the Premier League schedule affect English sides in Europe?

There’s no doubting other major European leagues go to greater lengths to support their teams in continental competitions. For example, the likes of Borussia Dortmund, PSG and Real Madrid have all seen fixtures re-arranged to various degrees by their leagues to give them more recovery and preparation time for Champions League fixtures. In fact, PSG have no fixture at all in the period between the first and second legs of their semi-final against Dortmund.

By contrast, Premier League sides are often tasked with playing fixtures in TV slots despite coming off the back of or preparing for an upcoming European tie. It would be hard to draw a true link between the TV schedule and English teams struggling in Europe given both Manchester City and West Ham won continental titles last season. However, this time around, Aston Villa are the only remaining English side in Europe and trail Olympiacos 4-2 after the first leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final.

There are rules in place, of course, when it comes to time between matches. Teams playing in the Champions League on a Wednesday evening won’t be selected for Saturday’s 12.30pm kick-off, while teams will never be made to play twice within a 60-hour period. Further considerations include supporter travel arrangements, broadcast slots and matchday policing and security.

Klopp takes aim at TNT Sports: “I will definitely never watch again”

Klopp has never been shy in battling broadcasters when it comes to the scheduling of matches, coming to blows with the likes of TNT Sports’ Des Kelly and Marcus Buckland of Amazon Prime in the past.

The German is still not staying quiet on the issue despite being due to leave Liverpool at the end of the season and has once again taken aim at TNT Sports, stating he’ll ‘never’ watch the broadcaster again.

“I had a discussion the other day with colleagues from my favourite TV channel which I will definitely never watch again, TNT,” continued Klopp.

“They always say: ‘They pay you. They give money for football.’ It’s the other way around. Football pays them. They broadcast and deliver it but it’s not like TNT or Sky is doing really well and can pay all of you. You have to become a partner of football again and not just the squeezer. That’s just a little advice from an old man on the way out. I will watch a lot of football but not all – people can survive without matches from time to time.”

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