Liverpool Football Club: 2017-2018 Premier League Season Review

Liverpool Football Club are playing in a Champions League final on Saturday. Liverpool Football Club are playing in a Champions League final on Saturday. Liverpool Football Club are playing in a Champions League final on Saturday. Liverpool Football Club are playing in a Champions League final on Saturday. As much as I’d love to just type that over and over again, I’m not entirely sure it makes for great content. Yes, it’s a thrilling thing to be able to say and something that supporters of no other English club is able to write this year, but still. I’m sure you’re rather like me, struggling to think about anything other than Kiev and our destiny with glory or despair. Win and these players will be heroes for everyone with an affinity to the club. Lose and they’ll be a cause for mockery from the weirdos out there who pretend they’re not obsessed with us but spend more time tweeting and taking about Liverpool than their own club.

Despite the fact that Saturday evening is dominating my every waking thought, I realised that I haven’t yet written my review of Liverpool’s 2017-2018 Premier League season. Such is the extent to which our run to the Champions League final has overrun everything, there’s a risk that we might actually forget just how well Liverpool played at times this year. It’s also worth remembering that this is only Jürgen Klopp’s second full-season in charge, meaning that it’s entirely possible that the best is yet to come. Hopefully the best bit of the season is yet to come, but I’m going to try really hard to make this piece about our domestic achievements rather than our European adventures. I say ‘domestic achievements’ but, unfortunately, we underperformed in both the FA Cup and League Cup this year. As a result, it feels as though the less said about those two competitions the better. That does mean we don’t get to extol the virtues of Virgil van Dijk’s winning goal against the Ev, but such is life. What can we take from this year’s league performance, then?

We’re The Second Best Team In England

The old adage goes that ‘the table never lies’. I’ve never believed that saying to be true. For starters, the only two occasions during a season in which the table can be even vaguely said to be being ‘truthful’ is at the start, when there are zero points on it, and at the end when everyone’s played everyone else twice. Even at the start there’s no real truth to it, given that it’s arranged alphabetically. At the end there’s more truth to be found, but it doesn’t tell you the full story. This season Liverpool ended up fourth, requiring a final day victory over Brighton & Hove Albion to tie up our place back in Europe’s elite competition, but that by no means reflects how well the Reds have played throughout the year.

A lot of it boils down to what you want from your football team. Manchester United finished second this season, with an incredibly respectable eighty-one points. Yet the football that the supporters have had to put up with has been eye-scratchingly poor. The sixty-eight goals scored is actually six fewer than Arsenal managed, despite the Gunners having such a poor season that Arsene Wenger was relieved of his managerial duty. Tottenham finished above us in third, yet even that only occurred because we were distracted by our run in Europe. I refuse to believe that if we’d have been knocked out of Europe at the same stage that they were that we wouldn’t have taken maximum points from Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Everton, which would have seen us finish above the Red Devils on goal difference.

We’ve played some absolutely sensational football throughout the campaign, smashing fours past Arsenal at Anfield, West Ham at The London Stadium and Bournemouth at The Vitality. Manchester lost just two league games all season and at one of them was to us. More than that, when they arrived on Merseyside they were unbeaten, but they simply couldn’t handle the electrifying football that took them apart and saw us race into a 4-1 lead. If you asked Pep Guardiola right now who he’s most concerned about next season then I’m absolutely convinced that Liverpool would be his answer. We’re the side best positioned to take the fight to them next time out, the team most likely to stop him from setting up his dynasty. There are already rumours of discontent in the Manchester United dressing room, with José Mourinho on course to set fire to the place in his third season, as has become his wont.

At Spurs things aren’t much better, with Mauricio Pochettino suggesting that Daniel Levy needs to put his hand in his pocket if they’re to really compete. Rumours of Unai Emery replacing Wenger at The Emirates haven’t left the Arsenal supporters feeling overly delighted, whilst Antonio Conte is almost certain to leave Chelsea this summer and they’ll have to rebuild again. Only Manchester City are as content as the Reds are right now, basking in the glory of a year of excitement and improvement. Whether we win or lose on Saturday, we’ll head into next season with a squad that knows it has the ability to reach the final of the Champions League, meaning that they should be absolutely bouncing for the task that lies ahead in finally winning that elusive Premier League title. This season we’ve shown that we’re the second best team in the country, proving that the table definitely lies.

We’re Heading In The Right Direction

I’m quite sure that supporters of every club in the division would disagree with my assertion that we’re the second-best team in it, which is absolutely fine. The thing I’m delighted about more than anything else is that we’re heading in the right direction. Yes, we technically finished with less points than last season. Yet if you think that’s a backwards step then I feel like you haven’t been paying attention to that old European Cup thing I’ve mentioned a few times. The always excellent Andrew Beasley has posted some tweets about how English clubs tend to do in the league when they’re advancing in Europe and this current Liverpool side is about par. For me, what matters far more than our points tally is our style of play and the way that the squad is shaping up, both of which are in rude health.

After a couple of seasons that have been stilted by injury, I’m delighted to see Jordan Henderson back to his best in a Liverpool shirt. I’m not sure he’s got the fitness to play week-in, week-out in a campaign that involves both the Premier League and Champions League as well as the domestic trophies, but he’s been our best midfielder this campaign when it comes to turning the ball over quickly against teams with a low-block defence. The difference that Virgil van Dijk has made to the defence has been noticeable, too; if for no other reason than his presence in it has allowed supporters to be a bit more relaxed when we’ve conceded a corner or a poorly position free-kick. We actually notched up more clean sheets before he arrived than after, suggesting that our defence wasn’t as poor as many people choose to make out. Yet it’s unquestionably better now and is only likely to get better.

Mo Salah Has Been A Joy To Watch

As you may have guessed, this is more of a general look at Liverpool’s Premier League season than it is an in-depth discussion of how everything’s gone. Even so, it would be remiss of me not to make mention of the Egyptian King who has helped to light up Anfield all season long. It takes something pretty special to set a new goalscoring recored for a thirty-eight game season, yet something pretty special is exactly what Mohamed Salah is. As with all of the best strikers, defenders and goalkeepers knew what it was that he was going to do but couldn’t do anything to stop him. One of the nicest things about watching the Reds this season is the number of surprised that we’ve been able to enjoy. I don’t think anyone expected Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to have the season he had, for example, and Andy Robertson has taken the club by storm.

Without question, though, the player who has made the biggest impact is the one wearing the number eleven shirt. The former Chelsea and AS Roma forward was seen as a backup to Sadio Mané by most supporters when he first arrived. Precisely no one had him down as a player who would be able to score thirty-two league goals and be charming, funny and engaging in the process. I know that he won’t be around forever, but right now I’m not sure that I see him leaving. We’re in the Champions League final, we’re likely to be challenging for the league next season and he’s hero-worshipped on Merseyside. He’s a player to whom being from Egypt and Africa is important and that’s something that the club have respected. I don’t think he’ll be in a rush to leave and so we should enjoy him whilst we can. Alongside Roberto Firmino and Mané he’s part of the most exciting attack of my lifetime; an attack that sent us into the Champions Leaguer for the second year running for the first time since 2009. What a season it’s been.

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