Posted in Football, premier league

Is this the most underappreciated Liverpool side ever?

18 games unbeaten- the club’s longest streak without tasting defeat in over a decade, into the last sixteen of the Champions League and emphatically ending Manchester City’s domestic dominance by halting their 30 game unbeaten run in supreme fashion- it’s a good time to be a Reds supporter.

Not so long ago, the talk of the town was that Liverpool were amidst a crisis, having been on the receiving end of two humbling humiliations at the hands of Man City and Tottenham Hotspur.

The feel-good factor is back at Anfield, though, with brighter days seemingly on the horizon.

Having said that, there has been a dark cloud hanging over Anfield, as The ‘Fab Four’ lost arguably its star member, though, the now thunderous three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were able to fill the void of Coutinho effectively.

Beating the champions-elect without the samba star and the world’s most expensive defender, Virgil van Dijk, is no walk in the park and is testament to the Reds’ ruthlessness .

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are often the team to thrive in a baptism of fire , play how no other side would dare to, and defy the odds. A Sunday night under the lights at Anfield against the league leaders had all the makings of a fine contest.

Pep Guardiola’s men were put to the sword by Liverpool; beaten at their own game.

The Reds simply did what no other side imagined was possible.

Championship duo Wolves and Bristol City are the only other sides to give their all in order to thwart the Citizens, but Klopp’s troops were the ones who rallied together to execute the masterplan to overthrow Guardiola’s gladiators.

Relentless gegenpressing forced City into committing numerous errors, which they ordinarily wouldn’t make. ‘ The invincibles’  were being made to look anything but that, as Mohamed Salah slammed home from distance to make it 4-1 in the 68th minute. Aside from a lapse in concentration as proceedings drew to a close, this was a performance of the highest calibre from Liverpool.

Yet there are still many who doubt both Klopp as a manager and Liverpool as a team.

But why?

The defence is still an issue, yes, but it has certainly improved and the acquisition of Van Dijk exemplifies the problem has been recognised and is well on its way to a state of solidity.

People will point to games that the Reds have failed to win, such as home games to West Brom, Burnley and Everton, where they dominated for the majority but failed to find a breakthrough. This, however, has not defined Liverpool’s season and since the 4-1 debacle against Tottenham in October, Klopp’s men have turned a corner.

This was a defining moment.

At times, the personnel that Liverpool operate with have been criticised. Roberto Firmino is allegedly not a striker who will net 20 goals a season, despite the fact he currently has 17 to his name and we’re only in January.

The Brazilian contributes so much more to the team than what meets the eye, but it is merely acknowledged and his efforts go unnoticed for the most part. Firmino is a work-horse, a key player who drives the Liverpool press and contributes his fair share of goals too. It is a rare occurrence to even hear the former Hoffenheim man’s name mentioned when discussing the best forwards in the league.

Scorer of Liverpool’s first goal on Sunday, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain is another player who has been significantly overlooked; even before he first put on the famous Red shirt. His £35 million fee was laughed at and ridiculed, though, it seems unlikely that these doubts still remain. Admittedly, Chamberlain took perhaps a little longer than expected to hit the ground running, but now it seems as if he’s destined for greatness.

If you cast your minds back to this time last year, that’s enough in itself to demonstrate how far this Liverpool side has come in such a short space of time.

The Reds were eliminated from both the FA Cup and EFL Cup by Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton respectively , beaten at Anfield by Swansea City for the first time ever, and ended January without victory, with the exception of an unimpressive third round FA Cup replay win at  League Two Plymouth Argyle.

There have been no New Year woes this campaign, though, as Liverpool have upped the ante and taken no prisoners. The shackles have been removed and there is no holding back the rampant Reds now.

Part of the reason for the resurgence this year  is due to the improved squad depth that Klopp has at his disposal. Each signing since last year has added undoubted quality and  a new dimension to the side. Gone are the days of looking aimlessly to the bench in the slight hope that they would bring about a change in fortunes.

Nobody could have possibility imagined that Salah would be such an unprecedented success, or even that Andrew Robertson would enjoy such a sharp rise to prominence. The flying Scotsman has enjoyed a  dazzling start to life in L4 in recent weeks; his tenacious attitude certainly fits the bill with Klopp.

The strength in depth in this Liverpool side is as impressive as any in the past decade.

The 2013/14 campaign was the closest the side has come to reaching the holy grail of English football in recent years, as Brendan Rodgers’ men fought to the hilt, only to fall at the final hurdle. However, this current side have one more point now than the breathtaking ‘SAS’ infused side had at the same stage after 23 matches played.

Not only does the current points tally beat 2013/14, but 47 points is also the second highest total the Reds have possessed in the past ten seasons  and is just shy of the best figure reached in the 2008/09 campaign(48).

Of course, there are differences between the sides in year’s gone by. Roberto Firmino is no Luis Suarez and no midfielder will ever live up to the heights that Steven Gerrard reached, but a new era is being witnessed; an era filled with great expectations but endless possibilities.

There have been various misconceptions about this Liverpool side, but the biggest of all has been people’s inability to recognise the quality that runs deep within this team.

Klopp’s Anfield tenure has been a work in progress, however, the job was never going to be a quick fix.  His authority and decision- making has been disputed on various occasions, but the German who still firmly holds his Liverpool blueprint plan may be on the cusp of greatness.

Tom Cavilla.

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A trip down memory lane: Philippe Coutinho- Best Liverpool goals

Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million move to Barcelona is officially  complete and he departs the club having scored 54 memorable goals.

Coutinho developed a reputation for scoring long-range piledrivers during his stay in England, which is further demonstrated by the fact that since his arrival in the Premier League, he scored more goals from outside the area than any other player(19).

Here is a look back at some of his best:

Manchester City- April 2014:

This goal was undoubtedly the most crucial in this list.

With the scores tied at 2-2 in a game that was almost sure to be the title decider, Vincent Kompany sliced his attempted clearance straight into the path of the former Inter Milan midfielder, who accepted this gift with open arms to restore Liverpool’s advantage and raise the roof.

Brendan Rodgers’ men title charge was placed back on track with this impromptu no-look finish.

Bolton Wanderers- February 2015 :

A place in the FA Cup fifth- round awaited either Liverpool or Bolton as the two sides battled it out at the Macron Stadium.

The match was heading for extra time with the scores tied at 1-1. Coutinho then took matters into his own hands and single- handedly dragged the Reds through.

His goal from long distance crashed onto the bar before bouncing in, and this was now becoming an all too familiar sight for Reds fans.

Southampton- February 2015:

Quite arguably the pick of the bunch.

With no options seeming available, as Coutinho stood with the ball at his feet in midfield, he weighed up his options and rocketed home a fine effort.

Similarly to his Bolton goal, his shot smacked the top of the crossbar before bouncing down and in over the line.

Fraser Forster made an attempt to prevent the ball from flying in the top left corner, though, he was left clutching thin air as he crashed to the ground.

Manchester City- March 2015:

A second Man City masterpiece in the list from Coutinho.

Jordan Henderson had scored a Coutinho- esque goal earlier on in this contest to open the scoring in the match, with an arrowing effort which sailed past Joe Hart.

City responded through Edin Dzeko shortly after this, and with 15 minutes to play; Coutinho conjured up one of his trademark thunderbolts.

The Brazilian shifted the ball on to his favoured right foot, dropped his shoulder and let loose. The ball swerved into the top right of the goal and Hart was beaten again.

It was almost as if time stood still as the ball was struck.

Stoke- August 2015:

Coutinho kickstarted Liverpool’s 2015/16 season in supreme fashion, with a curling 30-yard effort which flew into the roof of the net past the hopeless Jack Butland.

The game at the Bet 365 Stadium was entering its final moments and looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw; that was until the samba star had other ideas.

Manchester United- March 2016:

Not all of Coutinho’s goals were thunderous howitzers from outside the area, as he showed in Liverpool’s Europa League Round of 16 clash against Manchester United.

Guillermo Valera was left flat-footed by the tricky footwork of Coutinho, who brushed the Uruguayan aside, before beautifully finishing the move with a deft finish over the head of David de Gea.

This goal all but secured the Reds’ progression into the next round of the competition.

Arsenal- August 2016:

This was the first goal in what turned out to be a seven-goal thriller on the opening day of last season at the Emirates Stadium.

Coutinho beat Premier League veteran Petr Cech from distance with what was an unstoppable free kick that drifted into the top left corner. Cech rose and fell, only able to watch the ball nestle in the upper echelons of the goal.

A set-piece of the highest calibre.

Everton- April 2017:

In last season’s Merseyside Derby at Anfield, Coutinho embarrassed Everton’s defence with a mazy run, which he concluded with a finessed shot to leave Joel Robles rooted to the spot.

Coutinho had skipped past Mathew Pennington and Idrissa Gueye before shaping up to shoot. His finish was sublime and it was Derby day delight for the Reds.

Leicester- September 2017:

This was one the Brazilians first games back in action this campaign, following his speculation filled summer which saw him left out of the squad for the first few games.

He marked his return in fine fashion, with another free kick masterclass- similar to that of his Arsenal goal.

Brighton- December 2017:

Coolness personified.

Brighton had obviously been watching Liverpool’s star man and knew the problems he can cause from a dead ball situation. So with five men packed in the Seagulls’ wall, it seemed as if they had scuppered any plans of another goal to Coutinho’s ever-growing collection.

As the wall leapt in the air,  the ball slid beneath their legs and  trickled into the bottom corner.

It’s an act very few would even dare to try, and the fact that this was the second time( West Ham, February 2016) the Liverpool man had pulled this off made it that bit more impressive.

Swansea- December 2017 :

Coutinho’s farewell goal.

Just as he began his Liverpool career- with a goal against Swansea in a 5-0 win- he bid farewell in the same manner.

His first-time venomous strike found the back of the net on his 200th appearance for the club.

This is the final time Reds fans will see ‘The Magician’ conjure up a moment of class in Red.

 

Coutinho has weaved his spell on Premier League defences for five years, establishing himself as one of the leagues finest talents. 

The Blaugrana awaits as he seeks pastures new, while Liverpool have to regroup, after suffering the loss of arguably their prize asset.

 

Tom Cavilla.

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Philippe Coutinho- Liverpool highs and lows:  

When Liverpool announced the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan in January 2013 for £8.5 million, the resounding consensus, at the time, was that the move was a ‘gamble’ on the Reds’ behalf.

It sure turned out to be a rather fortunate one.

The samba star leaves Anfield after playing a total of 201 games for the club in all competitions, in which he scored 54 goals and produced 46 assists.

Fans have been left heavy-hearted by the transfer which sees the Brazilian become the second most expensive player of all time. During his five-year spell at Liverpool, Coutinho has conjured up some unforgettable moments and will be fondly remembered for his on-field performances.

“The magician”, as he became known as over time, often pulled the rabbit out of the hat for the Reds when the side were crying out for a spark of brilliance, though, his disappearing act to Barcelona was not the final trick up his sleeve that Liverpool fans would have been hoping for.

Here is a look at some of the highs and lows of Coutinho’s five-year Anfield tenure:

Highs:

Debut goal:  

Coutinho kick-started life in Liverpool in the best possible way; with a goal on his debut against Swansea City.

The stage was set for the 20-year-old to announce himself to the Premier League, and he did just that.

Plenty was made about Coutinho not being anywhere near the finished article when he arrived at L4, and so this was a massive high point for both the Brazilian and the club, as it allowed them both to remove weighted expectations early doors.

Just as he scored his first goal for the club in a 5-0 win over Swansea, his last arrived in similar circumstances, as he bagged in the Reds’  recent Boxing Day 5-0 thumping of the Swans, though, this time; it proved to be his farewell goal.

Man City masterpiece:  

With Liverpool’s 2013/14 title dreams hanging in the balance, Coutinho fired home a goal of paramount importance to send the Anfield crowd wild.

The Reds entertained Manchester City in April 2014, in a game that had the whole world watching.

Liverpool had stormed to a comfortable first-half 2-0 lead, thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel, however, City fought back in the second half to make it 2-2.

With just over ten minutes remaining in the contest, Coutinho single-handedly settled the affair.

Vincent Kompany sliced his attempted clearance straight into the path of the former Inter Milan midfielder, who accepted this gift with open arms to restore Liverpool’s advantage and raise the roof.

With four games to go, the Reds were now in the driving seat to secure the title, and this goal looked destined to be a decisive moment in Brendan Rodgers’ side’s action-packed  journey to reach the holy grail of English football.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be in the end, but this goal will forever be remembered nonetheless. A truly spine-tingling moment, a goal to cherish, a season to never forget.

Cheeky chip:  

Liverpool’s 2015/16 Europa League campaign was dramatic to say the least.

Ties against Borussia Dortmund, Villareal, and most memorably Manchester United were the obstacles overcome on a thrilling route to Basel.

And no victory was sweeter than the two-legged triumph over Man United.

Having won the first leg at Anfield 2-0, Klopp’s men travelled to Old Trafford knowing that they were in pole position to progress but also aware that it was not job done.

That was until Coutinho showed up.

On the stroke of half-time, the 25-year-old all but ended the contest with a goal of the highest calibre.

He surged down the left-hand flank past Guillermo Valera- who was left flat-footed by his tricky footwork- before entering the United penalty area and audaciously chipping the ball over the head of David de Gea. This put Liverpool 1-0 up on the night and 3-0 to the good on aggregate.

You could hear a pin drop in the home end, though, the same can’t be said for the away section, who were on cloud nine and beginning to rendition the trademark ‘Ole Ole Coutinho’ chant.

Louis van Gaal’s men pulled one back, but it ended 1-1. Liverpool progressed 3-1 victors over two legs, but this game will forever be remembered by that piece of brilliance.

Derby Delights:  

Coutinho bagged three goals in nine appearances against Merseyside neighbours Everton, to make him an even more loved figure on Merseyside.

His first came back in the 3-3 thriller at Goodison in 2013, which was followed by a driven effort in Liverpool’s 4-0 win in April 2014, and concluded in last season’s 3-1 victory.

The Brazilian failed to lose a single game to the Toffees during his time at Anfield and can look back fondly at his derby contributions.

Lows: 

West Ham woe:  

Coutinho’s first and only red card at the club came against West Ham in Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Slaven Bilic’s side in August 2015.

His first booking was given for discipline reasons, which left him walking a tightrope for the remainder of the contest. He was then dealt a hammer blow after he recklessly fouled Dimitri Payet, to bring an end to his afternoon in the 52nd minute of play.

Goals from Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble and Diafra Sakho condemned the Reds to their first defeat at home to the London side since 1963.

This was a day to forget for Coutinho and the club itself.


Sevilla surrender & Spot-kick shame :  

Nine months of hard work had led up to this moment.  The Reds had reached the Europa League final.

Victories over Dortmund, United and Villarreal meant that Sevilla were the final side standing in Liverpool’s way of a first trophy since 2012 and the first of Klopp’s reign.

After a successful start, which saw the Reds enter half time 1-0 up courtesy of Daniel Sturridge, the tides turned significantly after the interval.

Unai Emery’s side bagged three second half goals to clinch the Europa League trophy and book their place in the Champions League for the following campaign.

Coutinho, a player who often produced moments of magic, could not weave his spell on Sevilla and was a bystander for the majority of proceedings. His performance was heavily scrutinised, with most Reds supporters describing it as ‘half-hearted’ and ‘ lethargic’.

The Brazilian failed to win a piece of silverware whilst at Liverpool, though, the opportunities were there to do so and this was a prime example of a failed opportunity.

Three months prior to this, Coutinho also missed his spot-kick in the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City, as Klopp’s men lost to the Sky Blues 3-1 on penalties.

Although he did score the goal to take the game to extra-time and penalties, Coutinho failed to deliver performances worthy of a £142 million player.

Transfer talk: 

As speculation soared in the summer linking Coutinho with a move to Barcelona, the Liverpool man coincidentally was ruled out with ‘back troubles’, which appeared rather timely to say the least; especially as he managed to play for the Brazilian national team during this period of pain.

He scored for Brazil and celebrated his goal, appearing reduced to tears; which most put down to disappointment over his failed move to the Blaugrana, as opposed to any sort of ‘injury’ that was causing suffering.

Similarly, this January there’s been a feeling of déjà vu, as Coutinho, again, became sidelined upon the opening of the transfer window.

He played against Leicester on the 30th December, but was out of the squad to face Burnley just two days later, this time apparently due to a ‘thigh injury’.

Barcelona have reported that he will be ruled out for 20 days because of this setback, but in both cases; things just don’t quite add up.

Coutinho departed for the Nou Camp with good intentions for his future but not on good terms with the fans who embraced him from the day he arrived on Merseyside.

Tom Cavilla.

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The statistics that illustrate that Virgil van Dijk will be money well spent for Liverpool:

Liverpool’s £75 million acquisition of Virgil van Dijk has certainly divided opinion.

One thing that is not up for debate, though, was the fact that Jürgen Klopp was crying out for a world-class defender.

While some were left perplexed at the astronomical fee paid to secure the services of the Dutchman, it is undoubtedly money well spent on Liverpool’s behalf.

In today’s highly inflated transfer market, prices being demanded by clubs continue to skyrocket , which is all part and parcel of the free-spending modern era that we are operating in.

Cost aside, if any uncertainties remain over Van Dijk as a player, the following statistics exemplify how much Liverpool have been requiring a stable figure such as their new man, for what feels like an eternity.

Since Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool in October 2015, the Reds have shipped over 100 Premier League goals, more than any other top six side.

League goals conceded since October 2015 (top six): 

1. Liverpool- 105  

2. Arsenal- 98 

3. Manchester City- 85 

4. Chelsea- 83 

5. Tottenham Hotspur- 74 

6. Manchester United- 72  

Set pieces, in particular, have been an element of defending that Liverpool have struggled with, showcased by the following numbers:

Most set piece goals conceded since October 2015 (top six):  

1. Liverpool- 36 

2. Manchester United- 31 

3. Arsenal- 29 

4. Manchester City- 25 

5. Tottenham- 24 

6. Chelsea- 21 

While the Reds have also committed 24 errors that have directly led to goals since Klopp took over. Only West Ham (27) and Crystal Palace( 26) have a worse record; two sides you would expect to see table-topping the list. One wouldn’t expect to see a title challenger amidst the upper echelons, however.

The defence has been an issue sat in plain sight for Klopp since day one, but it’s a cause for concern that has never seemed to be treated with the required urgency, demonstrated by the German spending just £4.2 million on centre halves during his tenure( Ragnar Klavan £4.2 million, Joel Matip free).

This isn’t just an issue that Klopp himself is responsible for creating; for this has been an area of weakness for almost a decade.

Take the 2013/14 season as a prime example of a ‘what could have been’ scenario.

As the ‘SAS’ struck opponents down and blew them out of the water, the defence straggled behind them, allowing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to bear the weight of fans’ high expectations.

With three games to spare, sitting five points clear, things seemed fairly routine. This was until the Crystal Palace capitulation which defied all odds.

If Liverpool had strengthened at the back effectively that season, the campaign could’ve ended in the way it should have, with Brendan Rodgers’ side hailed as winners.

Of late, there’s been a feeling of déjà vu, as the Reds’ fab four have terrorised opposition and wreaked havoc wherever they’ve played, though, a lack of defensive diligence has come back to haunt the side once more.

So just how will Van Dijk help?

Van Dijk has earnt himself the reputation of being of the best Premier League defenders, since joining Southampton in 2015 from Celtic.

His aerial prowess, strength in possession of the ball, and ability to be quick off the mark, make him a worthy candidate to bolster the defensive unit.

The Dutchman has made 67 Premier League appearances, and during that time he has failed to make a single mistake which has led directly to opposition scoring.

On the other hand, Dejan Lovren has been responsible for six errors that have led to goals whilst plying his trade in England, which leaves him two mistakes short of joining Premier League veteran Joleon Lescott and former Red Martin Skrtel at the top of the leaderboard, for the most blunders in the Premier League era (eight).

This campaign, Lovren has displayed evidence of progression, as he has seemed less panicky and more pragmatic in his decision making.

But old habits die hard and mistakes have slowly filtered back into his performances, which, as a result, have been accompanied by the return of disapproving supporters.

Like the Croatian, Simon Mignolet is another player to come under mass criticism.

Mignolet has made 18 errors that have led to goals, which ranks him joint third in the all-time standings in the modern era, of any player in any position.

Van Dijk, alone, will not instantaneously fix the complications that run deep within the rearguard, but what he will do is bring a much-needed new lease of life to a setup that seemed dead and buried a long time ago.

In the past, FSG have been scrutinised for adopting a policy of quantity over quality with signings made, but it’s safe to say in this case that this procedure has not prevailed.

As Sir Alex Ferguson once proclaimed “attack wins you games, a defence wins you titles”, which rings true in Liverpool’s case.

This is a major step in the club’s bid to return to becoming title challengers. The Reds have issued a statement of intent with this deal and it confirms that Klopp is prepared to go toe-to-toe with his rivals to the hilt.

Van Dijk’s arrival may well have laid down the foundations for a new era at the club.

Tom Cavilla.

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All you need to know about Liverpool target Manuel Akanji: 

Liverpool have been strongly linked with Basel centre half, Manuel Akanji, and could potentially make a move for the Switzerland defender in the upcoming  January transfer window. 

Akanji is only 22-years-old but despite this, he has already featured for the Swiss national team on four occasions 

He is physically imposing in the heart of defence, has pace in abundance but also remains composed when in possession of the ball. 

Jurgen Klopp’s side have been subject to mass criticism in regards to the defensive unit at Anfield, as all too often this has been the Reds’ Achilles heel.
This move could prove to be a successful acquisition, but just who is the man in question?

 

Background:  

The 6ft 2′ defender began his footballing career in his home country, at local side Wiesendangen, where he spent three years. Following this, Akanji departed to second tier Swiss side FC Winterthur. 

In his final season at Winterthur, he featured in 37 games and became a key figure in the side.

Swiss giants, FC Basel, then swooped in and secured the services of the young defender.  

In April 2015, the signing of Akanji was confirmed, with the player officially joining for the start of the 2015/16 season. 

 

Basel beginnings 

Akanji made his debut for Basel in September 2015. Following this, he made 12 appearances before he suffered cruciate knee ligament injury in March 2016, which severely hindered his progression.  

After eleven months on the sidelines, he returned to action last campaign in February 2017, where he then began to establish himself as a first-team regular. 

He helped Basel on their way to their eighth consecutive Swiss league title and the 20th in the club’s history. 

 

How has he fared this season?  

Akanji has featured in all 19 league games, completing the full 90 minutes in all but one of the fixtures. With cup competitions added to the equation, he has contested in 28 matches.

Basel booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League recently, having finished second in Group A, behind Liverpool’s rivals Manchester United. 

And Akanji was a key part of this success, as he failed to miss a single minute of group stage action.  

We could well see more of the towering defender, as Manchester City await the current Swiss champions in the next round.

On a national scale, he has represented Switzerland on four occasions. He appeared in his sides World Cup qualification games against The Faroe Islands and Andorra. 

Most notably, though, he played his part in both legs of Switzerland’s World-Cup play-off encounter against Northern Ireland, in which his country progressed with narrow 1-0 aggregate victory. 

Interesting facts:  

Akanji was named ‘ Rookie of the Year’ at the Swiss Football Awards in the summer, an accolade which recognises the talents of young and upcoming stars in Switzerland. 

In an interview with ‘ Credit Suisse’,  he revealed that he has a tattoo on his lower arm which says ‘ prove them wrong’, which he decided to have whilst out of action for almost a year. 

He claims that this has always been his life motto. 

Tom Cavilla.

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Dodgy defending on their travels but a different story at fortress Anfield for Liverpool

This season, Liverpool possess the best home defensive record in the league, by conceding just three times in ten matches. 

During this commendable streak, The Reds have also kept a total of seven clean sheets in the process.  

Outlined below is a breakdown of all the home results so far:  

  1. Liverpool 1-0 Crystal Palace 

  1. Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal 

  1. Liverpool 1-1 Burnley  

  1. Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United 

  1. Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield Town 

  1. Liverpool 3-0 Southampton 

  1. Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea 

  1. Liverpool 1-1 Everton  

  1. Liverpool 0-0 West Brom  

  1. Liverpool 5-0 Swansea 

 

Burnley, Chelsea and Everton are the only teams that have managed to find a way to breach the Liverpool backline. 

And most intriguingly, this record could still have been bettered, as two of the three goals were highly avoidable.  

Chelsea managed to snatch a late goal at Anfield, courtesy of a dipping effort from Willian- which was almost certainly intended to be a cross into the box rather than a goal attempt-  but irrespective of this, the Brazilian midfielder shouldn’t have been given the time and space to deliver such a teasing effort into the danger zone.

Similarly, Wayne Rooney’s penalty goal for Everton could too have been prevented, as Dejan Lovren was foolish to lay his hands on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and present such an opening. 

If you compare Liverpool’s start at home to last year’s, it makes for good reading, but also leaves questions unanswered regarding the unpredictable nature of this Liverpool team. 

2016/17 :10 home games played- 10 goals conceded 

2017/18: 10 home games played- 3 goals conceded.

An average goal per game(GPG) ratio of has been significantly reduced to 0.3 GPG. 

With the crowd behind them, it seems as if the Anfield faithful provide an extra layer of protection for Klopp’s side, reinforced by the fact that the Reds haven’t lost on home soil since April.

On their travels, however, the pendulum shifts significantly. 

Having only surrendered three goals at Anfield, the number away from home rises a near sevenfold to 20.  

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur account for almost half of the twenty, as together they struck nine past the Reds. 

17 less goals conceded at home illustrates that Liverpool’s defence can be compact, what’s not clear is what determines their contrasting fortunes.

Tom Cavilla.

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Why free-scoring Liverpool shouldn’t be fazed by Arsenal encounter

The odds may suggest otherwise, but Liverpool can consider themselves firm favourites on Friday night at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal.

The Gunners have lost just one game at home this season in all competitions, a defeat they suffered three weeks ago at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Up until that point, Arsene Wenger’s side boasted a 100% win record on home soil in the league. But while the North London outfit have enjoyed home comforts this season, the rampant Reds have showcased their ruthless streak on their travels, which is making them unwelcome visitors wherever they venture.

On paper, this may appear a testing fixture, given the fact that Liverpool have only tasted victory once at Arsenal since 2012, though, Jurgen Klopp’s side have won the last three overall meetings between the teams and are capable of rising to the occasion once more.

Cast your mind back to the Reds’ previous fixture at the Emirates last campaign, in which Sadio Mane announced himself to the club with a fine debut goal. The jet heeled winger not only opened his goalscoring account for the side but also kick-started early season optimism as Klopp’s men embarked upon their 38 game journey.

Mane raced over to the sidelines and was hoisted up in the air by Klopp, who looked unsure of what to do amidst the sheer ecstasy and ended up piggybacking down the touchline, bearing the weight of his new star player.

On this occasion, the Reds were on the winning side of a seven-goal thriller and based on recent encounters, you’d expect history to repeat itself on Friday, by delivering another goal-fest.

The Merseysiders have scored three or more goals in their last four meetings with Arsenal and the two sides’ last ten league meetings have conjured up 41 goals- a stupendous average of 4.1 goals per game.

Last time out, Liverpool were 4-0 victors at Anfield in August, preceded by another home win, in last season’s 3-1 triumph. Prior to this, was the above-mentioned 4-3 spectacle in the capital, and concluding the list, an entertaining 3-3 clash, again, at the home of the Reds.

And it’s not just bundles of goals against Arsenal alone which is becoming somewhat of a common occurrence, as Klopp’s side have entered a free-scoring rhythm away from home.

Liverpool recently set a Premier League record, by becoming the first top-flight side to win four consecutive away matches by a margin of three or more goals; an accolade that was accomplished in Sunday’s 4-0 win at Bournemouth.

By no means will this heavyweight fixture be ‘easy’, but based on current form, you’d be bold to downplay the Reds’ chances of extending this striking streak.

Having said this, it hasn’t all been plain sailing on the road this season, as Klopp’s men have been on the receiving end of two separate humbling debacles against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, losing 5-0 and 4-1 respectively.

Though, the tides have turned since then it seems. Nine goals were shipped in these two drubbings, meanwhile, in the last nine league games, just four times has the Liverpool defence been breached.

Of course, many will continue to put forward the case that the Reds’ rearguard are not, and won’t ever be what’s required going forwards, but perhaps the much-maligned backline deserve some recognition.

Let’s also not forget, Liverpool’s opponents are far from the finished article themselves.

The Gunners possess the worst top six head-to-head league record since Klopp’s arrival in England, in October 2015 (19% win ratio) – with the Reds manager occupying the most superior track record (39%).

Matches of the highest magnitude play into Liverpool’s hands, as opposition located in the upper echelons of the league are also forward-thinking, which leaves themselves exposed to counter-attacks, allowing for the Reds’ potent attack to wreak havoc.

Frustration has loomed large at Anfield recently, as Everton and West Brom, who adhere to gameplans of attacking prevention as opposed to penetration, have both walked away with an unmerited share of the spoils. In the end, superior possession statistics and goal attempts have counted for sweet nothing for the Merseysiders.

Home may be where the heart is, but perhaps it’s not where Liverpool’s best football is being played currently.

Many may expect Arsenal to reign supreme but this is the kind of fixture where Klopp and Liverpool are in their element.

You certainly wouldn’t put it past Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ to single-handedly carry three points back home to L4. And it’s not just the rampant attacking quartet that will pose danger to the hosts, as former Gunner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, will be aiming to settle the score at a place he called home for six years.

It promises to be a fascinating game, involving two Jekyll and Hyde sides, that interchange from one extreme to the other each week.

Christmas will have certainly come early if Klopp’s side secure three points on Friday, in what would be a present that Reds supporters would accept with open arms. Conversely, a horror show repeat of the Man City and Spurs thrashings would be sure to remove any festive cheer.
Tom Cavilla