“This does not f*****g slip now. Listen, listen. This is gone, we go to Norwich, exactly the same, we go again. Come on!”. These were the words of an emotional Steven Gerrard after Liverpool pulled off a thrilling 3-2 win over title rivals Manchester City.
With just four games left of the 2013-14 Premier League season, Liverpool were leading City by three points. The Premier League title never felt closer for Liverpool. They did win the match against Norwich as Stevie G demanded. But a loss to Chelsea on match day 36 and an absolutely unexpected draw against Crystal Palace on the penultimate day proved lethal as City snatched the title that was almost destined for the Reds. Once again, the ‘This is our year!’ chant came to nothing but banters from the rival fan bases.
If you are ever feeling bad just remember Liverpool managed to lose the Premier League from this position with 3 matches to go… pic.twitter.com/sfovmbOf0H
— Footy Humour (@FootyHumour) August 8, 2018
Almost every year, we get to see Liverpool fans getting hyped about the new season, saying this is their year. Much like England’s ‘It’s coming home!’, the chants ultimately die as Liverpool fall behind in the title race. Last season, the supporters chanted it loud and clear. And seeing Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane firing in all cylinders, who could blame them? But various huge results ultimately proved futile as Liverpool unexpectedly lost to the likes of Burnley, West Broms. They were even named the ‘Robin Hood of EPL’, a team who takes points from the ‘rich’ (Manchester City, Chelsea) and gives to the ‘poor’ (Southampton, Swansea).
Despite the holy trinity of Salah-Firmino-Mane being as devastating as it gets, there were a lot of areas Liverpool could’ve improved. But they didn’t do that last season. They chose to rely on the almost never realiable duo of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. And it cost them dearly when they lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid ‘thanks’ to two awful errors by the latter. They needed a creative midfielder, they didn’t sign one either. And when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got injured and was ruled out for the season, Liverpool didn’t have a plan B. Their squad looked out of shape and without any meaningful depth. As things would end up, Liverpool were brilliant on form. But in a long demanding season, they ultimately fell apart due to the lack of quality in certain places of the team and the squad depth.
Despite all of these, no one can deny that they’re England’s most entertaining team. Klopp has got his ‘Heavy Metal football’ philosophy well incorporated in them and the results are there. They were the team to end Manchester City’s unbeaten record in the league last season. They’re the team that thrashed City 5-1 on aggregate in the Champions League. Pep Guardiola got the better of everyone but Jurgen Klopp, who got the better of the Spanish Professor not once, not twice, but thrice last season. Klopp got the better of Man City, a team consisting of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane with a midfield consisting of Milner-Henderson-Wijnaldum. Flashes of brilliance, but ultimately no silverware to show for- Liverpool’s season once again left the fans letting a deep sigh of disappointment out.
But it’s not the same this season. It seems like Klopp has listened to the fans and planned accordingly. For starters, they broke the then world record of the most expensive goalkeeper by signing Allison Becker for 65 million pounds. A relatively disjointed midfield of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum couldn’t cut it last season. Klopp has changed the midfield completely. Naby Keita was already supposed to arrive this summer. With him, Liverpool signed the ever versatile Fabinho from AS Monaco. The duo of Keita-Fabinho just in front of the back four combines a quality of old school hard man tackling and creativity to support the devastating trio upfront. Unlike last season, Klopp has also looked to strengthen his bench. He’s brought in Swiss Superstar Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City. For a long season, he’ll come in handy to give Salah or Mane some rest.
With this new look and even more dangerous side, Liverpool are a force to be reckoned with this season. They’ve never won the Premier League since the renaming of the league, but this time, they do look good. Granted, they’ve looked good multiple times in the past only to disappoint the ones who believed in them. Liverpool are still not the perfect team. They still lack the squad depth and fringe players who can make an impact anytime they’re called upon. But with Klopp at the helm and the team fully moulded into his heavy pressing and attacking football, Liverpool fans can believe. Another psychological factor is that it seems Klopp has got Guardiola’s number. With all of these in mind, who knows? Maybe this is indeed the time for Klopp’s new look Liverpool. Maybe they’re the team to stop City’s supremacy in England. Maybe, just maybe, this indeed is their year.