As I recently discussed in my previous article, Liverpool are top of the league ahead of the November international break – talk is beginning to waft about the Reds potentially lifting their first Premier League title ever and their first league title in 1990. How does it compare to the 2013/14 season though?
The question to ask is is the current LFC team better than the one that **nearly** lifted the league in 2014?
Short answer, yes. Why? Here’s a breakdown..
1) Points & wins collected
Well, the immediate answer is because of the wins we’ve had in contrast to the 13/14 season. In 2013/14, we collected 7 wins out of a possible 10, losing 2 & drawing 1 – we had collected 22 points at this stage in November 2013.
Now, we’ve won 8, drawn 2 & lost 1 – collecting 26 points in the process; 4 points better than this stage 3 years ago. So, maximum points are being collected regularly. Points win you titles, and if we can sustain our consistency, at this rate we have a real chance of collecting a significant haul of points.
2) More chance of domestic success
The Reds were knocked out of the Capital One Cup in 2013 against United, but we’re now already in the quarter-finals of the cup – meaning there is still a good chance of us lifting outside silverware. However, if we do not do well in the league, domestic success will be overlooked as trivial – the same happened with Kenny Dalglish when he won the Carling Cup in 2012, but due to Liverpool finishing 8th, this arguably cost his job. We haven’t experienced the winning feeling since then, so it’d be nice for some piece of silverware to make its way back to Anfield’s cabinet.
3) Ability to beat smaller teams
& we’ve been able to displace the so-called “smaller” teams – an example is in the 13/14 season, we drew away to Swansea, then lost to Southampton at home. Yes, Swansea were a side low on confidence when we played them earlier this season – but we had come from behind as well, and at one point the game didn’t present a lot of optimism for us.
We also drew away at Newcastle & lost 2-0 away at Arsenal, a side who were the league leaders at the time. In all competitions, we had lost 3 & drawn 3, whilst winning 7. It’s not so impressive when you compare it to our current form, where we’ve lost 1, drawn 2 & won 8. Just to add as well, we had a much harder fixture list for the 16/17 season, but gained more points from it, whilst easily mauling the teams lower down the table.
4) Spine in the team at last.
Additionally, we have an all-round team this year that has just about the right spine and balance in midfield & attack. In 2013/2014, there was some creative attacking football under BR, but at times we were left relying so badly on Luis Suarez (and sometimes a fit Sturridge). I feel as if our midfield still did lack versatility in that season; many of our midfield players like Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho & Gerrard weren’t at their best in the first half of the season, but they improved as we put a record winning run together. I feeel now our midfield has guile, balance & stability, it is enough against the bigger teams.
The attack? Well, it’s debatable to say it’s better than the 2013/14 side, but no one can deny Mane, Firmino & Coutinho have not been at their best this season. They have been just as effective, operating on the same wavelength, and scoring a ridiculous amount of goals. It wouldn’t be right to compare the goals scored between the seasons, as we were without Suarez for a vast majority of the first half of 2013/14.
5) Mental strength, defensive experience & improvement, lack of complacency by JK
Complacency is what cost us in some games during the 2013/14 season, with Rodgers at times japping on about the “character” the team showed – it felt at times as if he was clutching at straws. Whereas you look at Klopp before the game against Watford – he in fact warned against being over-confident. It’s easy to understand the revving confidence in the fans & players, but there are times you cannot have the ego to win titles. It’s the mental strength which outfought Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal etc that is a valuable asset in a title-winning side.
Defensive improvements – yes, we are still struggling for clean sheets at times, but our defence looks better on paper & more prepared for the long run. We have physical players such as Joel Matip, the tough Dejan Lovren, pacey & versatile Clyne who can attack and defend, coupled with Milner’s consistency in filling the void left by Moreno at right-back. Whereas you look at the 2013/14 defence, which consisted of the likes of Glen Johnson, Aly Cissoko (who never gained his starting berth), Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel & Kolo Toure. Don’t get me wrong – there were some good players in this defence, but we were far too rusty & disorganised as a unit. Just to add too, most of them were inconsistent at the time, which was why there were anomalous results in the defensive performance. We also have experience in our defensive ranks right now – which is key for a title.
I feel more confident under the charming German that is Klopp; his charismatic hugs, emotion etc has won over the city of Liverpool. It may seem a bit premature in the season to say this, but why can’t it be our year? I know I’m going to come to regret this come May, but still, this will stay up..
Written by @SteLindellLFC