Five Reasons Why This IS Liverpool’s Year
Liverpool are an enigma.
Whenever you think they may be back in with a shout of a title challenge they always seem to let you down with a surprising poor result against opposition they should be beating. But the bottom line is, things are on the up at Anfield.
And no football season would be complete without a bit of premature title giddiness around Merseyside so today we look at the main reasons why this might just be their year…again.
1. Herr Klopp
By next May, Liverpool won’t have lifted league silverware for 27 years. Their league title drought is now one year longer than Manchester United’s long wait when Alex Ferguson became the first manager since Matt Busby to deliver the league to Old Trafford in 1993.
During that time, United endured several barren years with mediocre managers and I don’t need to bring up any Ron Atkinsons or Roy Hodgsons to prove there are parallels with what has been going on down the M62 over the past two decades. But cometh the hour, cometh the German.
Jurgen Klopp has restored belief to a city that has been on the back foot since Alan Hansen last hoisted the old First Division trophy in 1990. It’s been a bit two steps forward and one back in his honeymoon period but he’s been hampered in the transfer market by muscly competitors and a lack of European football as a carrot to dangle.
In the long term that’ll change but he’s bought shrewdly enough as it is. Mignolet is out of harm’s way on the bench, Mane has added pace and 3 goals in his opening 7 league games and the Matip effect has yet to kick in at the back.
If Klopp is given the support Ferguson enjoyed at United when progress was painfully slow in the late 80s, the German looks like a man who can do it.
One area that Jurgen Klopp has addressed significantly is the goals for column. Liverpool have scored more goals than any other Premier League team in 2016 with 59 goals since the turn of the year. It’s a stat that leaves them 7 clear of Manchester City, 11 clear of Chelsea and Arsenal and a whopping 19 ahead of rivals Manchester United, although that must be asterisked by LVG’s involvement until May.
Liverpool however find themselves top of the goalscoring charts this season already having hit the net 18 times.
It’s a figure only matched by Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring Man City. And not only are they plentiful but they are coming from all over the pitch. Milner has chipped in with 4 penalties while Mane, Coutinho, Lallana, Henderson and Lovren have all registered on the scoresheet.
3. The Anfield Effect
The ribbon was cut on the new main stand at Anfield in September when Champions Leicester were sent packing with a 4-1 deficit.
The developments will likely improve what is already the best atmosphere in any English ground, first properly experienced by Klopp on the night they produced an unlikely comeback against Borussia Dortmund in last season’s Europa League.
Klopp has since said the atmosphere he’s experienced at Anfield is ‘one of those things in life you cannot buy’.
So the new developments at Anfield seem a perfect backdrop for the team to deliver on the pitch, but if the atmosphere is to get anymore intimidating for opposing teams with an increased Anfield support, then that in itself can serve as a catalyst for the players.
4. No European Football
The lack of Borussia Dortmund style nights may be missed at Anfield this season but the want of European action under the floodlights may prove to be the biggest blessing in disguise the club could have asked for.
Whereas Manchester United face trips to Stamford Bridge and Anfield in close proximity to European ties this season and Man City will face a clustered schedule if Pep delivers in Europe, Liverpool have no such fixture concerns. Not even a good cup run will get in the way of that.
5. The Run-In
In fact, when the going gets tough from Easter onwards, Liverpool’s fixture list looks likely to keep Scouse bums from squeaking. Their run-in looks far from complicated with 8 concluding fixtures against Bournemouth, Stoke, West Brom, Palace, Watford, Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough.
Their final game against Middlesbrough will be in front of their home fans; where will 24 points out of those last 8 fixtures leave them? As 4/1 second favourites, it’s becoming clear that Liverpool are prime candidates to take the Premier League trophy off Leciester in May. You can stick your Giro on it.