We have reached the midpoint of the 2017/18 season and it is time for us to sit back and take a look at how the campaign has fared so far for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
The Merseyside outfit have once again announced themselves as a devastating attacking force and on a number of occasions have blown opposition out of the water, but the defensive frailties have once again held them back from being genuine title challengers. Here we analyze their season so far and pick out who has been the most stand out player for the Reds and who has failed to stand up, along with the prediction for what could be waiting for them in the second-half of the term;
The Season So Far…
Liverpool’s summer was largely dominated by their failure to sign their top transfer target Virgil van Dijk and amid the instability of Philippe Coutinho’s situation, who had submitted a transfer request to force a move through to Barcelona, things did not look all that good for the Reds.
Things took a turn for the worse in the months of September and October when they went on a run of ten games with just two wins and had been thrashed 5-0 by Manchester City and then received a 4-1 at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur as well. At that moment, a top-four finish looked a tough ask for the Merseysiders, but two months later, heading into the new year, Klopp’s side sit fourth in the league table, ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham, four points below third-placed Chelsea.
Their UEFA Champions League campaign too had been rocky on occasions, with draws against the likes of Sevilla and Spartak Moscow casting doubts over their chances, but a strong finish ensured they ended the group stages as the leaders and face a quite favourable draw in the form of Porto in the next round.
The 7-0 wins in Europe against Spartak and Maribor are some of the major highlights of the season so far for the Reds, along with the 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal early in the season, but the defeats to Spurs, City and the draws against Watford, Sevilla and the Gunners last week brought their defensive issues to the fore.
It isn’t hard really to pick the most stand out player for the Reds this season. Summer signing Mohamed Salah has just been unstoppable since his £36.9 million move from AS Roma.
Following his failure to shine at his time with Chelsea, there were a number of reservations among some sections of supporters when the Reds signed him, but it did not take long for the Egyptian forward to dispel al those doubts, as he terrorized defences with his blistering pace and directness and his eye for a goal.
The 25-year old has scored 15 goals in the Premier League – second highest tally in the competition and has a total of 21 strikes to his name across all competitions, along with 8 assists as well, highlighting the understanding he has struck up with the rest of his teammates. Roberto Firmino has continued to do what he does best, while Sadio Mane has been impressive as well, despite a few dodgy performances here and there.
Philippe Coutinho too has been outstanding once again, despite the summer transfer saga and has endeared himself to the supporters once again after having drawn their by his actions in the early parts of the season. The Brazilian has seven goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions, but it is Salah, who has been capturing the imagination with his dazzling displays for the Reds.
For all their attacking exploits, Liverpool have, time and again, been let down by their shoddy defending. And the chief culprit for the Reds’ at the back has been former Southampton man Dejan Lovren. The Croatian international has struggled to hold his own in the defence and his display in the 4-1 loss to Tottenham was one of the worst one would ever see.
While the likes of Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory either, having put in a number of lackadaisical displays, it is Lovren who has been the most disappointing player for the Reds.
January Transfer Plans
The Reds have addressed a major issue in their backline already, by clinching the signing of Virgil van Dijk for a club-record £75 million. However, Klopp might look to add a defensive midfielder to his ranks as well, as Henderson really isn’t cut out to perform in such a role.
There are a number of potential exits on the cards as well, with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, and some of the younger players like Ben Woodburn and Marko Grujic all likely to leave in search of regular playing time. Coutinho’s situation too is something of a worry for Reds, as Barcelona are set to continue their pursuit for the Brazilian playmaker.
Season Grade: B-
Klopp’s failure to address the defensive issues in the summer have cost his side dearly as they were knocked out of the title race very early into the season. With the quality of attacking talent that they have at their disposal, if only the signing of Van Dijk would have been completed in the summer, one might wonder how things would have turned out for them.
Progression to the next round of the Champions League looks a guarantee as well, but it is hard to see them progress to the semi-finals, if they are drawn against the likes of Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain in the next round. A derby against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup will make for an enticing encounter and should they get past Sam Allardyce’s Toffees, they stand a fair chance of going long in the tournament.