Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, June 20, 2015 14:18:11
The whirlwind 2013/14 season promised a new dawn for Liverpool. But it was all a flash in the pan. I started a blog after that season and hoped to write about a team challenging for the title or at least for honours. But the Reds failed miserably last season and threfore I am putting my blog to bed, at least as long as Liverpool is among the also-rans. There is no point writing about a club destined for 5th to 8th place in the league. Even if it´s my beloved Liverpool FC.
Every Red fan want to see Liverpool be a club to be reckoned with again, a team to respect and even to be afraid of. But that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Not as long the ambitions are as low as they are now and the ability to build a great side is almost non-existent.
When world-class Luis Suarez left Liverpool bought eight players of decent quality, at best. None of them were hardly better than what we already had. We need to be buying top-class players, not solid or promising ones. I am talking of players like Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski. Only these kind of performers will take us to the next level, to a platform where we can compete successfully domestically and in Europe. And it´s of course not only strikers we need, also midfielders and defenders of higher standard than what we got now. To sign average players like Danny Ings and James Milner is all good and well but it will just keep us scrambling for Europa League places, if even that.
Hopefully the owners FSG and manager Brendan Rodgers realizes this and sign at least two players of the highest calibre this summer. It´s time for FSG to put their money where their mouth is. I doubt it and if we don´t buy well then another disappointing season in the doldrums awaits.
When Liverpool get their house in order and start to act like a big club I will come back and write about them again. When it´s any point in saying:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, April 12, 2015 14:20:19
It´s 99,9 percent certain that Liverpool misses out on Champions League, CL, position this season. But like many crazy and never-say-die fans I am clutching at straws and hoping for a miracle. But deep down I know it´s over - or is it - really? A microscopic chance is still there and it´s in the shape of a pretty tough upcoming schedule for both Manchester clubs, two of our top four rivals.
At the moment Liverpool is in sixth place in the Premier League table. We need to climb up to fourth to secure CL qualification. It will be difficult since it´s only seven league matches left and the Reds are seven points adrift of fourth occupied by Manchester City. In third Man Utd is placed eight points ahead of us. Arsenal won yesterday and have twelve points more than Liverpool so we can forget about catching them. Southampton is also higher up than Liverpool with two points more but one more game played. The Saints have surprised a lot of people this season but in the end they shouldn´t be a threat for the teams chasing top four places.
If Liverpool is going to have even the slightest chance to reach top four then we must win at least six of the remaining seven games. A tough proposition in itself and furthermore Man City or Man Utd must slip up big time in the run-in.
The good thing is that both have some tricky fixtures left. And let´s say Liverpool manage to grab 18 points then Man City need eleven points to land above us and Man Utd require ten points to do the same. Both have better goal difference than Liverpool so if we amass the same total amount of points as any of the Manchester teams then they´ll finish above us.
Lets check out their final fixtures. Man City is a bit out of form and has lost three of the last six games. Of the seven remaining matches they have four at home and West Ham, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers are sides they usually overcome at Etihad. But both Villa and QPR could be fighting for survival and a City team out of the title race could be caught out. Hammers is not a pushover this season and could also cause trouble. The fourth home encounter is against Southampton in the last match of the season. Could go either way.
The away ties are the biggest stumbling blocks. Man Utd today is a tough one as is Tottenham and Swansea. Man City is probably going to grab the necessary eleven points (if Liverpool gets 18) but it could be by the skin of their teeth. Hardly any of the upcoming matches are straightforward affairs and City is not the winning machine they were last season.
Man Utd has an even more troublesome fixture list, especially the three upcoming matches are challenging hurdles to get over. First off is the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in a few hours, then two tough away matches awaits. First against title-chasing Chelsea and then Everton where United has managed just one win in the last six. It could mean three defeats and then it´s game on.
Especially as the rest of the schedule is quite trying aswell. The home match against West Bromwich should be won but then in-form team Crystal Palace play hosts and after that Arsenal visits, perhaps chasing the title, and in the final game Hull can be fighting for their PL lives at KC Stadium. Even if it´s 21 points left to take, to even manage ten can be quite problematic for Man Utd. They are in good form so that will help them but almost all their opponent has something to play for, or are in good form, so that means seven demanding matches.
But even if Man City or Man Utd, or both, slip up, Liverpool has a lot of work to do themselves to leapfrog them. Our programme, though, is a lot easier than our top for rivals, at least on paper. At home we face Newcastle, QPR and Crystal Palace, teams we invariably beat at home. The away games are winnable aswell even if they are difficult. West Bromwich, Hull and Stoke are all inferior to a Liverpool team in full throttle. But that is just what we need to be to beat them. And that is the tricky part, to rise to top form and stay there for the rest of the season. We have done it before and I am confident we can do it again.
The fourth away match, third fixture from the end, is away to Chelsea and hopefully we can have the same luck in London as they had in Liverpool last season. The powers are indebted to us so make John Terry slip and let in Daniel Sturridge for the winner. If we now win four on the trot and even down Chelsea then it´s a distinct possibility that top four is in our reach with two games to go.
As long it´s theoretically possible hope for top four lives on. So, fans and players, here:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Sat, February 21, 2015 18:14:42
The chase for top four places in the league is heating up and Liverpool has recently closed the gap on teams above us. We are at the moment in 7th place and there is still just an outside chance to finish at least three places higher up. But the Reds can take heart from the fact that we often perform better in the second half of the season. On the other hand, from time to time the opposite occurs.
Premier League has been around since 1992/93. I have examined how Liverpool has fared in the second part of all 22 seasons to establish if we can finish the campaign in the Champions League places. As the saying goes, a great predictor of future behaviour is previous behaviour.
In 22 PL seasons Liverpool has gained more points in the last 19 matches than in the first 19 on eleven occasions. We have amassed less points in the last half six times and in five campaigns the points result is the same for both halves of the season. So 50 percent of the time we perform better in the last 19 games and in just 27 percent of the seasons we perform worse in the latter part.
Encouraging facts and they get even more upliftning if we only take the last 14 seasons into account. The numbers then read: Eight seasons when we had better showings in the last 19 games, four with an even record and just two seasons when we collected more points in the first half.
The four seasons prior to that is the ones dragging us down. From 1996/97 to 1999/00 Liverpool performed better everytime during the first half of the season. During the first four PL seasons we gained more points on three occasions in the last 19 games. In the remaining campaign it was all square.
Here are some more comforting details. In the last five seasons Liverpool has picked up more points in the last 19 matches four times. The odd one out is our dismal season 2011/12 when the total points sum was a meagre 52 and just 18 of them was gained in the last 19 fixtures. This is the largest margin in our PL history, 16 points, between the first and the second half of the season. The biggest difference when gaining more in the second half came last season when we picked up 36 points in the autumn and 48 in the spring.
If we add together all points during the 22 seasons then the second halfs prevails, but not by much. In 22 seasons Liverpool has claimed a total of 725 points in the first 19 games and 752 in the last 19. It means that we on average accumulate 33 points in the first 19 games and 34 in the last 19.
Since we this season collected just 28 points during the first half and if we amass the average in the latter part then we land on just 62 points, a total not by a long chalk enough to make us end up in top four. But historical statistics are one thing, present reality something else. Now Liverpool must defy the odds and take a trip down Route Winning leading to Champions League heaven. I think it´s possible when:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Wed, February 18, 2015 14:36:34
Can we compete on three fronts? If not, which competition should we put less effort into or even ditch? This is the dilemma Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers faces ahead of an upcoming gruelling schedule including important and difficult league games aswell as matches in the Europa League and the FA Cup.
My answer to the first question is: No, Liverpool is not good enough, or rather, has not the squad depth to battle successfully in all three competitions. That leads to the second topic, and to that one there is no clear-cut or obvious reply. The answer lies in the future. Or to put it in other words: It depends how Liverpool fare in the different competitions in the near future. For instance, if the Reds are eliminated by Besiktas in the Europa League come Thursday next week then it´s a non-issue. If not, the three front question lives on. But soon enough a decision of how to address it must be made otherwise it´s a risk Liverpool gets over-worked and fails on all three fronts.
Through the years the Europa League has often been treated by fans and clubs as a distraction or even a nuisance rather than something big to win. But starting this season this has changed. At least it should have. And it is a huge reason why. The winners of the competition qualifies for the Champions League next season. In other words, a really big prize awaits besides the actual trophy.
This fact has made it more difficult to pinpoint which tournament is the least important. And there are couple of other factors to complicate things.
Since he came to Liverpool Brendan Rodgers has stressed that we are a winning club, a club that should be collecting trophies. If we just focus on that then this season the FA Cup is the competition to give it all in, where we should pick the strongest possible side. As we all know Liverpool is just three wins from lifting the cup at Wembley. The other possible trophy is the Europa League but to achieve that the Reds must get past five teams, some really good ones at that, and play nine matches. A far more complicated task than to grab the FA Cup where we ”just” need to down Championship side Blackburn and then only Manchester United or Arsenal is left as a really tough opponent.
But even if it would be great to win the FA Cup, and get an emotional final match farewell for Steven Gerrard on his 35th birthday, there is only shortlived honours and joy as rewards. A Europa league win offers something more tangible and long-term since Liverpool then gets the opportunity to play in the biggest European competition in the autumn. And with that follows huge financial benefits. And the money is of course an important part of a successful football club. Furthermore, a team participating in the CL has a greater chance to sign top players.
And if this cup problem wasn´t enough there is a league to consider. Here is also a CL place possible to gain if a top four finish is managed. But to just focus on the league can backfire. And it has to do with our current position in the table. Liverpool is seventh and must leapfrog three teams, probably Tottenham, Arsenal and Southampton, to land in fourth. A pretty taxing toil.
If we dispose all energy on this assignment, then it´s a huge risk that we fail to land either the FA Cup or the Europa League. And even if Liverpool play well and put in all possible effort to reach top four a success is far from guaranteed. So a league assault can mean that we end up empty-handed come May 30. No FA Cup, no Europa League and no top four finish.
The three front issue seems unsolvable right now. Especially as there is a lot of possible scenarios in the coming weeks.
As I´ve already written in this entry an immidiate elimination from the Europa League takes care of the dilemma. If we lose to Blackburn in the FA Cup sixth round in the beginning of March and progress in the Europa League then the predicament remains but a little less demanding. If Liverpool lose, let´s say three league games on the trot, then the top four finish is all but gone and we can focus on the other two competitions. This is three possible future events. There are plenty more.
If the Reds keeps on winning, as the team has done in recent times, then it will be almost impossible to know if one competition should be forgotten or if we should try to do well in all three and risk burning out our major players aswell as getting injuries. Even if we escape injuries a recurring rotation will be needed and then the calibre of the squad will definetely appear. Hopefully high standard shines through but I am afraid the quality is insufficient. I would be delighted to be wrong on that score but whatever happens:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, February 17, 2015 10:39:22
The FA Cup and Europa League awaits with possible final appearances. But it is in the league where Liverpool has got the real cup finals, 13 of them. Is it gonna be lucky or unlucky 13?
The title dream quickly evaporated in the autumn and Liverpool was forced to switch aim. Now the Reds are hoping for a top four finish in the league to enable a Champions League participation in 2015/16.
This season is nearing its conclusion and five teams are fighting for two Champions League spots. Manchester United is currently in 3rd place with 47 points while Liverpool is parked in 7th with 42. In between three teams reside, Southampton with 46 points, Arsenal with 45 and Tottenham with 43. Two of this five teams will be successful in their quest for qualification to the most prestigous tournament i Europe. Liverpool has the toughest task of the five having the least amount of points at this point. There is 13 league fixtures left to make the CL goal come true.
Can Liverpool do it? Is 13 gonna be a lucky number or our downfall? The answer is still up in the air.
Let´s take a look at the remaining programme. The most difficult period is the one coming up next. From the 22nd of February until the 4th of April Liverpool face three of our rivals for top four, Southampton, Manchester United and Arsenal plus league title chasers Manchester City. The six match sequence also contains encounters versus relegation battlers Burnley and current mid table positioned Swansea.
It´s a must to aquire quite a fair share of points during this period to even have a chance of top four. We probably must beat Man Utd and Man City at home aswell as avoid defeat at Southampton and Arsenal. Furthermore both Burnley and Swansea must be downed. This means 14 points amassed of a possible 18. It will be extremely difficult, especially as both FA Cup and Europa League matches are to be played during this phase. It means at least nine games in 42 days, possibly twelve if we progress in Europa League and get a replay in the sixth round of the FA Cup. This schedule will take its toll on the squad. Both physically and mentally. Everytime the charge must be as if a cup final awaits. It´s debatable if the current Red side is capable of that.
Manager Brendan Rodgers says he has got the best squad ever at Liverpool and thinks it can cope with the upcoming tight programme. I am not so sure. We have got the numbers, but do we have the quality? What happens if Daniel Sturridge gets injured again and Mario Balotelli keeps underperforming? Or if both Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling gets sidelined at the same time? Can we really come up with a top four challenge then? Presumably not. So our chance in the top four battle is to have a injury-free squad and even then the odds are stacked against us.
If we somehow can manage to come out unscathed after the six upcoming formidable hurdles then hopes will rise. And with unscathed I mean at least 14 points, perhaps even more.
Let´s say we do it. Then seven final league matches awaits and they are on paper much easier than the six before them. The septet include home games versus current mid table sides Newcastle and Crystal Palace aswell as a meeting with struggling QPR. Four away matches holds tougher tests. Two relegation fighters in West Bromwich and Hull are waiting aswell as mid table Stoke and title chasers Chelsea.
The three home games should mean nine points. The real trouble will occur on our travels. We have often problem with Stoke at Britannia and teams fighting to beat the drop is always tough propositions. And to get something from a clash at Chelsea is as we know a tall order.
Liverpool need to aquire a total of 70 points, at least, to have chance of a top four finish. If the Reds claim 14 points in the next six matches we then have 56 ahead of the remaining seven fixtures. In those we need another 14 points. So a five point haul away to Stoke, West Bromwich and Hull can do the trick if we don´t slip in our final three home matches.
So from now to end of the season Liverpool must win eight league matches, draw four and just lose one to be in contention for a CL place. It sounds difficult but not impossible. Our current form suggests that this kind of magnificent finish is feasible.
The key to it all is to perform really well in the next six matches. There is three major reasons for this. First of all, we need the points and secondly a good sequence would enhance self-confidence ahead of the final stretch. And if we amass less than 14 points then belief will get a major dent and at the same time rivals will probaly get out of our reach. It´s exiting times though, as:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, January 29, 2015 14:14:59
Sixteen league games remains and Liverpool need to amass 35-39 points to reach top four in the table and in the process qualify for next season´s Champions League. Can it be done? Well, it´s gonna be really difficult. And it requires a far better Liverpool than what we saw in the autumn of 2014.
At the moment Liverpool has collected 35 points in 22 matches. To reach top four we must grab at least 35 points more - in 16 games. The improvement has to be dramatic for the dream to become reality.
The 70 point mark is the minimum requirement to aim for. Because in the last nine campaigns the team in fourth amassed 70 points or more on five occasions. On the other hand, if we can pick up 74 points then CL qualification is almost guaranteed. During the 22 PL seasons played so far the team in fourth has on 19 occasions not reached that amount.
So 70 could be enough and 74 will. Between 35 and 39 points is what Liverpool has to accumulate. Let´s say that it takes 36 points.
In that case Liverpool need to pick up nine points every four games. I have broken it down to four four match sequences and examined how realistic our chances are.
The first four game series include these matches: West Ham home, Everton away, Tottenham home and Southampton away. All really tough fixtures. West Ham is a surprise packet and challenging for top four places. But at L4 they almost always lose, same occurrence now. Everton is not so good this season but I don´t think we can hope for more than one point in the derby. Tottenham at home usually means three points, same again is my guess. Southampton has performed well but must hit a form dip soon. But a draw is what we will manage. This gives us 8 points from these four encounters.
Next up is Manchester City at home, Burnley home, Swansea away, Manchester United home. Another quartet of tricky clashes. Man City is chasing the title but not with the same hunger as last time around. I really think we can down them at Anfield. Newcomer Burnley should also be beaten at Anfield. Swansea away is challenging proposition but they seem vulnerable at times, three points in the Liverpool bag. Four of the last six league matches versus Man United at home has ended in Liverpool victories. Not this time though, I believe in a draw. This means 10 points from these four games. So far a total of 18 points and now another 18 are needed in the last eight matches.
The third four match sequence includes this matches: Arsenal away, Newcastle home, Hull away and West Brom away. Arsenal away is often a hard one but we have coped reasonably well in recent years. But sadly I think we will come up empty-handed now. Newcastle has a terrible record at Anfield, no improvement now. Hull is fighting for their lives and has caused Liverpool problems in recent years. Can happen again, one point is all we get. West Brom is probabaly in a relegation fight and the Reds are often uncomfortable at The Hawthorns. Another draw. This means only 5 points in these four matches.
These are the final four league matches: QPR home, Chelsea away, Crystal Palace home and Stoke away. At Anfield we should dispose of QPR quite easily. It´s another matter completely away to Chelsea who probabaly is close to a title win at this stage. The Reds to lose. Crystal Palace has never won att Anfield in the Premier League. Not this time either, the three points stays at L4. Stoke away is always a tough battle but if Liverpool need to win to have a chance to get to top four then a victory it is. That give us 9 points in the last four encounters.
According to my predictions Liverpool will collect a total of 32 points in the last 16 matches and 67 points over the entire season. This sum is in all likelihood not enough to get to top four. But it´ll be touch and go. I have been both optimistic and pessimistic in my predictions about the 16 games. I would be surprised if Liverpool gather more than 67 points. And that probably means we end up in 5th or 6th place.
Of course I hope I am wrong and that the Reds can amass enough points to reach top four. It will take outstanding performances from now until the end of the season, though. But if Daniel Sturridge returns with his goal hunger intact and the other players chip in much more than up to now, then nothing is impossible. How it pans out remains to be seen when:
We Go Again.
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, January 06, 2015 19:47:44
Since Steven Gerrard announced his decision to quit Liverpool after this season a lot of opinions has been offered to explain why and questions raised if it is the right move. One angle has been left out, how can we change his mind. I know how it can be done and in the process give him another five years as a regular in the red kit.
It´s really quite simple. Make Steven Gerrard a central defender and he would fill that role exemplary for seasons to come.
The debate around Gerrard has in the last couple of seasons surrounded his ability to play in various positions in midfield. Some claims he is not suitable as an attacking midfielder because his ageing legs doesn´t cope anymore. Others has questioned if he can fit in as a sitting midfielder with defensive duties aswell as being a deep-lying playmaker.
Well, he is pretty good at both jobs. But there is big but hanging over the whole picture. As an attacking midfielder Gerrard is not as good as before, not as mobile and hungry, even if he showed what he can do yesterday versus Wimbledon. But that was probably a one-off and a reaction to him finally making his decision. A mental burden was gone and he felt relieved and could express himself again. But against better teams he will not be as effective.
As a sitting midfielder the captain is not good enough to cope with the defensive side of the game. He can tackle and all that but when in midfield his attacking instincts sometimes takes over and he leaves huge gaps in midfield for opponents to exploit.
With this in mind it´s probably right to managing his game time, just as manager Brendan Rodgers does and planned to do in the future. Gerrard isn´t physically ready to play every game as an attacking midfielder and not really good enough to be a regular sitting midfielder. Last season he was and Liverpool let in 50 goals. Proof enough.
According to Steven himself the game managing was a major reason for him to decide to leave Liverpool. He couldn´t see himself on the bench and not as anything else but a midfielder. Well, sometimes you have to reconsider and think things through once more. As Liverpool staff and Steven should do.
Deep down Gerrard wants to stay, I´m sure of that. But since he´s been a regular for over a decade and suddenly not be was to big a blow for him. The only solution was to leave his beloved club. But if he could be guaranteed a place in the team for years to come then he would stay. I don´t for a second believe that he craves another challenge abroad. He has had plenty of chances before, and declined. He could easily do it again. If only Liverpool could grant him a regular starting spot.
And they could. Give Steven Gerrard a centre back slot and he´ll would excel in the role and really enjoy it. And furthermore, it would be more of a challenge than a two year stint in the MLS in USA.
I am certain that Gerrard would be a smashing defender. He can tackle, he is good in the air as he often proves at corners, in both penalty areas, he reads the game well and could defensively organize a back line perfectly. Furthermore, his ball skills and game intelligence would make him the perfect centre back when it comes to bring the ball out of defence and set up attacks. A new Alan Hansen if you will.
All in all Steven Gerrard has all the necessary ingridients to become Liverpool´s new defensive leader. And I think he would love it. He can still take free-kicks and penalties and occasionally try shots from 25 yards. Just as he does as a sitting midfielder. And with him primarily getting defensive duties he would not be a liability defensively as he is a sitting midfielder. He would take his new reponsibilities on board and perform them to perfection. That is my firm belief. He has in the past showed his versatility on numerous of occasions, time to do it again in his final hurrah, even if the hurrah lingers on for a few years.
He wouldn´t be comfortable in the centre back role from day one but soon enough indespenisble especially as we have major troubles with our current central defenders. All of them makes silly mistakes, is caught napping, commits to ill-advised tackles and is too often out of position. Gerrard would not doing any of this and in the process making his fellow defenders more calm and assured. His leadership qualities would shine through and affect the whole back line.
And as a centre back he wouldn´t have to run so much so physically he could last for at least four or five years. He is fit as it is and would take care of himself just as he has for the last 20 odd years.
If Steven Gerrard gets the centre back role he could be a regular for Liverpool for years to come, do a great job and perhaps even win the Premier League. He could also break Ian Callaghan´s appearance record. Liverpool legend Callaghan played 640 league games for Liverpool and 857 matches in total. Steven Gerrard is currently standing on 494 league matches and 696 game sin total. If he should play on for four more seasons, and in average feature in 45 matches, he would break Callaghan´s record and be the player in Liverpool history to play the most games for the club. If anybody is worthy of that then it´s Steven Gerrard. Hopefully we will see this become reality, in the meantime:
We Go Again (and so does Steven Gerrard).
Tactics & analysisPosted by Leif Larsson Wed, December 31, 2014 20:19:11
After 19 games we have reached half-time in the league. Here is a Liverpool report card when 50 percent of the job has been done. It started quite good, went sour for a long time and now hope is back.
Last season hopes sky-rocketed when Liverpool played fantastic football and scored at will. A hatful of lame performances this season has given the supporters a major reality check. Last season´s title chasers are back in mid-table.
A suitable way to judge our efforts this season is, I guess, to compare them to how we fared last time around, in 2013/14. First off is the actual football.
The memory from last season is terrific football throughout but the truth is the Reds were not as impressive as we in hindsight want to think. Not in the autumn at least. We had some lucky 1-0 wins in the beginning, lost to Southampton at home and suffered defeats at Arsenal and newcomers Hull. After 13 games we were in 4th place and had only played well against teams like Fulham and Crystal Palace. Noone believed in a title fight then, maybe a top four outside chance.
But when Liverpool (Luis Suarez, 4 goals) in match 14 clobbered Norwich with amazing football it all took off. In the final 25 games we registred 19 wins, 3 draws and just 3 defeats. It ended in tears but on the whole it was a marvellous season where the Reds produced magnificent attacking football, scored 101 goals and amassed 84 points, two short of a league title.
The hopes were running high going into this season, despite selling our best player Luis Suarez. The eight new guys would compensate for the loss. But after two promising victories in the first three league matches everything went wrong. For several months Liverpool played dull, slow and uninspired football and was losing and drawing more than winning. We were locked in mid-table misery.
In recent times, though, there´s been a light in the tunnel after our football improved and started to be more entertaining and effective. The new guys is slowly but surely getting to grips with Liverpool FC demands and style and for some foreign newcomers Premier League football is not so daunting anymore. It was evident in the last game when the team came up with the best effort so far when Swansea was beaten 4-1. For the first time this season Liverpool played well for almost 90 minutes and recorded the highest amount of goals scored in a single match. New signings like Alberto Moreno, Javier Manquillo, Emre Can and Adam Lallana had a good game.
The top four places seemed all but gone a few weeks back, now there´s at least a glimmer of hope that we can reach that particular goal. Liverpool is currently five points adrift but if we can have another fine second half of the season, as we have for the last two campaigns, then it´s not an impossible dream. But many performances this season has been utterly lame so it´s too early to make any bold predictions. The jury is still out regarding our top four credentials. One good game is far from enough.
Statistically we are worse off this season aswell. After 19 games last season we stood on 36 points, this season it´s 28. Eight points is not a catastrophy, but a pretty large margin. Goal-wise we are also statistically worse, at both ends. Last season we had scored 44 and let in 23 after 19 games. The current numbers are 26 for, 25 against.
So the obvious conclusion is that it will take a major improvement in the second half of the season from Liverpool to qualify for Champions League. Displays like the one versus Swansea must be commonplace for us to have a chance. Can it be done? Well, it´s hard to tell.
If Daniel Sturridge returns soon and is on fire then our attack is going to be more lethal, which is a must. And if newcomers like Alberto Moreno, Javier Manquillo, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Adam Lallana can keep improving and really step up to the plate then the team is going to be better than in the autumn months. But that is far from enough. We also need the defensive play to be a lot better and the finishing bit aswell.
On that note it was great to see the attacking skills from Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling in the final match of the year. Their contribution must be of that quality, and possibly higher, in the coming months if we are going to get to top four.
Another thing needed is for the Reds is to keep spirits up, forget about the near miss last season and really enjoy our football. Then the season can end a lot better than it started and on a much happier note than most fans just recently believed it could.
So on the whole the midterm report can be summarized in three words:
We Go Again.