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.