Despite two back to back defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea, its been a year of progress from Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers has managed to get the team playing attractive and entertaining football which has brought terrific results over the last 12 months.
Yes there have still been some poor results, though I don’t class the defeats over the Christmas period as those, but Rodgers has managed to find consistency that has eluded the club over the past three or four seasons.
Key here has been Luis Suarez but Liverpool had a period at the end of last season and the start of this where they were powered by forces beside the stellar Uruguayan. Since his return, he has been nothing less than a phenomena scoring goals for fun and of such amazing quality that beggar belief at times.
But Suarez has always been an amazing talent. Rodgers has managed to get players like Henderson, Sterling, Allen, Skrtel, Lucas playing very well especially in the last few months and coupled with the addition of Sturridge and Coutinho, Liverpool have been a real force in 2013.
Yes, we still lack the quality and depth of squad of City, Chelsea, Spurs and United. Even Arsenal have splashed the cash more than us. Still - spending money isn’t everything and Liverpool and Everton have both shown that their limited squads can live with the best so far.
Will we be able to continue? Well Rodgers does need more strength in January as the defeats at City and Chelsea showed. Liverpool have made Anfield a fortress over the last 12 months and we have cling to the hope that all the big sides need to visit us in 2014 except Man United. Those results may well shape the outcome of the season.
More than the big sides, we have dispatched the smaller ones really well at home with our only defeat there coming against Southampton this season. Other defeats have come at Arsenal and Hull and then the last most recent two. Liverpool need to continue that home form and continue to batter the bottom sides.
The outstanding result for the club this year was undoubtably Spurs away a few weeks ago. Our last set of results at White Hart Lane were awful, we were missing Sturridge and Gerrard and yet we produced a display of attacking verve that a squad costing almost $200 million couldn’t live with. That 5-0 result was a real Liverpool classic. Rodgers needs to find something like that every week.
The defence remains a concern. Rodgers has tried plenty of combinations yet we still let in goals and even though at times we look solid, there is always a silly error around the corner. Errors cost us dearly this season - City, Southampton and Chelsea. I don’t think we should be content and January needs more strengthening in this area.
With five defeats already, the tilt at the title may well be over but Manchester City, who are everyone’s favourites, have lost four times as well. And we are just 6 points off the top in a league where the top 8 are separated by just 9 points. There is plenty of football left here and we have reason to be optimistic. As optimistic as we have been for many a season.
Happy New Year!