In this article, I am going to look at what has gone wrong for Liverpool this season. Go back to July last year and the team had just cruised to their first Premier League crown and their first English league title in 30 years.
Fast forward eight months to now and the defending champions find themselves languishing in 6th place having experienced an alarming drop in form. It is hard to understand what has gone so drastically wrong for the team which reached the Champions League final in 2018 and won it in 2019.
I’m going to try and explain what has gone wrong for Liverpool and decide whether they have what it takes to turn this around.
Much of Liverpool’s success over the last few seasons has been built on their front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah. If we just look at the goal involvements of Mane and Salah, Liverpool’s two biggest goal threats, it paints an alarming picture. In 2018/19, Mane was involved in 23 goals and Salah in 30, 53 combined. In 2019/20, Mane was involved in 25 goals and Salah in 29, 54 combined. Now if we compare that to this season, Mane has been involved in 10 goals and Salah in 20, 30 combined.
Clearly, it is not the end of the season yet but we are well over halfway in the soccer calendar. The fact that the goal involvements have dropped so much for the pair is arguably the root of Liverpool’s problem. This is because the team is overly reliant on the pair’s performance. If neither of them is playing well, it inevitably means Liverpool is not playing well.
There is no ignoring the injuries which Liverpool has experienced this season. Most notably, their defense has been torn apart with absentees. They have now had to play as many as 18 different center-back pairings in all competitions. This is unheard of and makes it almost impossible for the defense to feel settled together.
However, the biggest miss has certainly been talisman Virgil Van Dijk. The untouchable Dutchman was doubted by some following his £75 million moves from Southampton in 2015. Many questioned how a defender could ever justify this fee. Van Dijk has dismissed these doubts and has become the cornerstone of the Reds’ success. As such, he has been a gigantic hole in the side since going down with an injury in October.
Lack Of home Form:
Coming into this season, Liverpool was untouchable at home. They had not lost a match at Anfield in years. However, in the last few weeks, this impressive record has vanished. The streak was broken by Burnley who were shock winners at the end of January.
Burnley’s victory meant that Liverpool’s record ended at 68 consecutive home games undefeated. This amazing result has not been a one-off though. The side has preceded to lose four home games on the bounce. This is the first time Liverpool has lost four at home consecutively since 1923. Hardly the form of defending champions.
Can They Turn It Around?
While Liverpool undoubtedly has the skills and experience to turn it around you do have to question the team’s confidence. Last season you would never say that Liverpool was out of a game until the final whistle. This season, however, many games have been over long before the final whistle with the reds being blown away.
Most notably, their 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa and their 4-1 loss to Manchester City. What is most alarming and edging on embarrassing is that statistically, this is the worst title defense in the history of the Premier league. Based on that alone I cannot see Liverpool recovering this season. In fact, I would be surprised if they were to finish in the top four the way they are playing currently.