Liverpool’s beginning to this season has been nothing but what we have been used to over the last few years. While there are some undeniable improvements and things that are promising for the long run, we have some new areas of concern. Message boards and Facebook groups are filled with clashes of the concerned ones being taunted by those who are looking at the bottom line facts and while it is easy to rationalize and make a case for each side, things are a lot more complicated.
Let’s start with the positives. Perhaps having gone through the toughest stretch of our schedule in terms of match difficulty, we are joint leaders with Manchester City who now hold a large lead in the goal difference category over Liverpool. Our defense has been the most solid unit in the league and has been performing at a historically high level. Depth in our squad is showing its strength allowing us to field a strong team after several injuries from the international break while still having a bench that has some firepower.
Not everything is great though when you look at different aspects of the team. Our midfield is still full of question marks with several blue collar players willing to do the dirty work but lacking the creativity we were trying to get when we were after Fekir in the offseason perhaps. While Klopp preps Fabinho to take over the role he was signed to play, many question the roles of Henderson, Milner and Wijnaldum who all seem to be auditioning for the same role with their own unique nuances added in the overall same style of play. Offense has been disconnected… passes too short, runs not done at the right time, finishes a second late or too rushed… Salah has struggled to the new role of the hunted and the pressure that comes with it while Firmino and Mane are nowhere near their level. Keita and Shaqiri both show signs of the offensive brilliance but visibly not up to Klopp’s standards when it comes to defensive responsibilities.
Liverpool has become the Bizarro world. From an attacking force that cannot be stopped and a defense who could not stop anyone to close out games, we have become a team with an attacking stopping itself and a defense that stops everyone.
I think common sense says our attacking players are too good to keep playing at the current level. Those passes will eventually start connecting and some poor team is going to suffer from their wrath. I was personally hoping it would be the Manchester City game which would be a double bonus but we are still in waiting mode to see when we will see the attacking force and efficiency of last season. While there is no reason to see a decline in our defensive performance aside from having multiple injuries, the future seems bright knowing this team can be unstoppable with its current defense coupled with the unstoppable attacking trio of last year. If we reach the form we know this roster is capable of, this could be the year we have been waiting for, the year we get the championship. Finishing this post with the optimism that the attack will catch up with the defensive performance thus far, and leave the pessimistic view for another post… perhaps a post we will not need after Red Star and Cardiff games.