The question on many Liverpool fans’ minds after the extraordinary 4-3 defeat to Bournemouth last weekend, which saw old memories of the 2013/14 season come flooding back.
As the SAS (Suarez and Sturridge) struck opponents down and blew them out of the water back in 2013/14, the defence behind them straggled onwards, down but not out, being carried by the attack.
This was the case throughout the season where Brendan Rodgers so nearly guided the reds to Premier League glory, but is it going to be a case of Déjà vu, this time around?
High scoring games, poor defensive record, and attacking football; the ingredients for the interlinked seasons.
Up until the Bournemouth match, Liverpool had been very impressive, only one defeat in the league at the hands of Sean Dyche’s Burnley, unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions , 14 goals conceded in 13 games; two less goals conceded than at this stage in that infamous season, as well as seven more goals scored in this campaign.
They have looked the real deal this season- title contenders for sure.
Many people have praised Jürgen Klopp’s men this season, not only for their attacking prowess, but also for their rejuvenated defensive look.
A major part of this colossal improvement has been the capture of Joel Matip from Schalke back in July on a free transfer- pretty shrewd business from Klopp.
At 6ft 3” he reigns supreme at the back and is also very good at playing the ball precisely, but more importantly, in a calm fashion, perhaps something Mamadou Sakho lacked.
His partner has been the highly improved Dejan Lovren, who has won over the hearts of many, after a fairly torrid couple of seasons with the club.
The full backs of the 2013/14 season included a young and promising local player: Jon Flanagan, filled with commitment and passion, and also experienced right back, Glen Johnson.
This time around, James Milner; Mr Reliable, is filling in at left back in place of the not so Mr Reliable, Alberto Moreno.
Jon Flanagan is out on loan at Burnley, whilst Nathaniel Clyne is now the player for right back after Johnson’s inevitable departure.
Clyne has been one of Liverpool’s most consistent players in recent times. The new full backs look a lot more compact and secure this season.
Last weekend, Matip was injured for the game on the South Coast, so the experienced midfielder Lucas Leiva filled in as a makeshift centre back to go alongside Dejan Lovren. This was a decision which many fans questioned, with summer signing Ragnar Klavan on the bench and Mamadou Sakho stuck in the reserves.
Matip has only missed one game out of 14 for the reds prior to this match, the game he missed (Burnley), they lost. The Bournemouth match marked his second absence, which they went on to lose also.
This statistic showing how monumental he has already become to the backline of Klopp’s side because as soon as he is taken out, the ‘Old Liverpool’ seems to re-appear and signs of uncertainty creep in at the back.
As Matip went missing, so did Liverpool’s defence. 3-1 up with 15 minutes to play against Bournemouth, they caved in.
A 4-3 defeat the end result. Plenty of criticism came the way of German keeper Loris Karius also, Simon Mignolet’s predecessor, who so far; has not lived up to expectations.
The problem with the 2013/14 season was Liverpool’s inability to see out games, the classic example of course being the Crystal Palace game towards the end of the season, where Rodgers’ side were 3-0 up with ten minutes to play, only to go and squander this and draw 3-3.
Something that strikes a correlation with the way Liverpool ended the game against Eddie Howe’s side.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were firing on all cylinders, whereas paradoxically, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho were clinging on for dear life. Defensive error after defensive error over time cost them in the long run, in a season where Liverpool were tipped to win the league by almost everyone under the sun with around five games to go, they blew it.
It has always been a feature of a Liverpool side, a weaker defence and a stronger attack, but no one envisaged that they would let the title fall into Manchester City’s hands with three games to go and being five points clear at the top- It seemed impossible.
After the brilliant start this season, which has mirrored a lot of similar habits of that side, many have again backed the reds to go all the way.
Fast, deadly, attacking football, scoring goals for fun, a balanced midfield, and a positive atmosphere in and around the ground, all things that were prominent in the season they came so close. However, they will need to eradicate the one problem holding them back: The defence.
A famous quote by someone not so close to Liverpool hearts encapsulates the truth behind a frail defence: Sir Alex Ferguson: “A good attack wins you games, a good defence wins you titles” A statement which has a lot of honesty to it and it a catchphrase Jürgen Klopp is most likely aware of.
With star man Philippe Coutinho ruled out until New Year, Sadio Mane departing temporarily in January for the African Cup of Nations, and Joel Matip also being a possibility to join him, question marks are being raised.
Was this defeat to Bournemouth a wake-up call perhaps? A reminder that there are still many issues that need solving.
Will Liverpool surge all the way to the finish line, only to fall down at the final hurdle again? Or will it be the year where Jürgen Klopp creates history. Since his arrival he has certainly made his mark on the club; a terrific manager, which is a match made in heaven for Liverpool.
Can Liverpool go all the way this time? Or will it be a case of same old, same old?
By Tom Cavilla, 18 years old.