Callum Molyneaux explains why, despite concerns surrounding Liverpool’s chances of Champions League qualification, this season has been a success.
At the start of the season, if you told any Liverpool fan that they would be third in the Premier League with four games to go, they would have taken it all day long.
With the fixtures remaining, I still expect Liverpool to finish in the top four, with Man Utd and Man City still having to play against each other, and with the former having to play both Arsenal and Tottenham away before the end of the season.
It may be a surprise that Liverpool are sitting third in the league considering the depth of the squad and the lack of experience.
The squad is still about 4-5 players short of really challenging for the title, so sitting third isn’t really that bad. The first team itself is strong, even though improvements could be made in a couple of positions, but the bench is just not good enough.
For example, the bench against Crystal Palace on Sunday had an average age of just 19, with Alberto Moreno being the most experienced player. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn have been on the bench for most games since January.
Injuries have also derailed Liverpool’s season somewhat too, with key players injured throughout the season. Sadio Mané missed all of January through representing Senegal at the African Cup of Nations, and that really affected Liverpool’s chance of winning the league.
Since then Mané, got injured and is now missing until the end of the season. Jordan Henderson has also missed games, and the rumour is that he is expected to miss the end of the season too.
Players like Coutinho and Lallana have also missed a large chunk of games, which has had implications on Liverpool’s form. Another key issue has been on the fitness of the centre backs Lovren and Matip, with the pair only starting 14 games together. With both in the team, the Reds have only lost once, the game against Crystal Palace.
An impressive statistic for Liverpool this season is the form against the top six teams in the league. In the 10 games played, Liverpool have won five games, and drawn five games, making them first in the top six mini league.
The problem, however, has been playing against teams in the lower half of the table, where we have struggled. Losing to the likes of Bournemouth, Hull and Burnley to name a few has cost Liverpool in the title challenge. Imagine if Liverpool had won those games instead, they would be very close to Chelsea if not in front of them.
Looking forward to next season, if we can get it right against the lower teams, a chance for a title could be in the offing.
Another reason why the season has been successful is the signings Jürgen Klopp made in the summer.
The signing of Gini Wijnaldum has been important for the team, with him starting 32 of the 34 games. Another signing was Jöel Matip, who has impressed when he has played.
Without a doubt, though, the signing of the season has been Sadio Mané, with him being Liverpool’s top scorer with 13 goals. He has offered Liverpool something we haven’t had in a while, a direct and pacy winger who has an eye for goal. When Mané signed for £36 million, most fans including myself thought he wouldn’t be worth the price tag, but he has proved us all wrong within one season.
Overall, with four games to go, I still believe Liverpool are in pole position to finish in the top four places.
Liverpool could easily go and win the last four games, and that will be enough with teams around them having to play each other yet. Even after the game against Crystal Palace, there should still be some optimism around Anfield.