For many years, Liverpool didn’t challenge for the league title and were reduced to a side challenging for just the top four. But the Merseyside club has turned the tables this year and even after losing to City, they’re still 4 points clear at the top of the table. This has got everyone talking if Liverpool are finally about to end their 28+ years League winning drought.
Liverpool’s transformation from a top-four side to a title-challenging one has been an interesting one.
One of the main reasons behind Liverpool’s success has been their recruitment under Klopp over the past few years. The German Manager inherited an average squad when he arrived at the club, finishing 8th in Premier League and losing the Europa League Final. Not a single player in Klopp’s first Liverpool XI is a starter anymore and most of them have left the club. Instead of signing a number of players as they did with the money they got from Suarez sale to Barcelona, Klopp identified the weak areas in his team and has signed players accordingly who fit in his system.
Although Liverpool failed to perform well in the league last season, they made it to the Champions League Final where they lost to Real Madrid. The highlight of the game was Liverpool keeper’s Loris Karius’s two howlers. Liverpool needed a better goalkeeper and they signed Alisson Becker from AS Roma for a world-record fee (for a goalkeeper).
Alisson is proving to be the final piece of the jigsaw and a massive upgrade on Mignolet and Karius. He’s having a brilliant season so far, constantly giving good performances and has made crucial saves. Liverpool under Alisson have also kept the most number of clean sheets this season.
“Attack wins you games, Defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson
Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp have played an aggressive, high-pressing brand of football, scoring a number of goals but the problem lied at the back. Liverpool’s defense looked fragile, leaking too many goals but after the signing of Van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million in January, Liverpool have looked an entirely different team altogether.
They have only conceded 8 goals this season, keeping 12 clean sheets. Phillipe Coutinho’s big-money move to Barcelona has proved to be a blessing in disguise for Liverpool, enabling them to sign the Dutch Centre-back. VVD and Lovren have emerged to be a formidable CB partnership and are only getting better with time.
And with the signings of Shaqiri, Fabinho, and Naby Keita, the Scousers have further increased the depth of their squad. Although a lot was expected of Naby Keita, he has failed to live up to the expectations so far but the signing of Xhedran Shaqiri has proved to be a bargain for Liverpool. Signed from Stoke City for only £13.5 million, Shaqiri already has 6 goals to his name.
While the Liverpool defense has been doing its job, conceding as few goals as possible, the attacking trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino have responded equally well. Three of them have scored a combined of 28 goals out of Liverpool’s 40. Mohammad Salah not only won the Golden Boot last season, but the Egyptian has silenced those who called him a One-Season Wonder. He is the joint top scorer this season so far and has netted 13 times.
So, will Liverpool finally win the League this season or will they bottle it once again as they did back in 2014? Who can forget that famous Steven Gerrard Slip? Only two teams have failed to win the title after being top of the table at Christmas in the last ten years, both of them were Liverpool (13/14, 08/09).