I really don’t want to be writing this article. It’s one of those ‘what if’ moments, something Liverpool fans have been accustomed to in past 5-6, unfortunately.
Also, for another reason, this month has marked the start of a slippery slope for Jurgen Klopp’s side – at risk of becoming a terminal one for the rest of the season, especially with the manager not opting to invest in the January transfer window.
There hasn’t been a single league game that I can enjoy writing about – even the replay at Home Park which was won by a youthful Liverpool side offers absolutely no respite.
The statistics don’t make the best reading. We’d lost 3 games on the spin – all at Anfield, once dubbed the ‘fortress’ which saw the Reds go 26 games unbeaten up until January 21, when Swansea snatched a shock win at Anfield.
But, nevertheless, I really feel that this needs writing. I don’t like to remind myself of how derailing this month has been, but we need some perspective.
1: Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool [2 January, Stadium Of Light].
To kick off the new year, we were on the back of a very hectic fixture schedule which saw us play twice in 48 hours – and it showed away at Sunderland.
Although we didn’t lose here to David Moyes’s struggling Sunderland, this was a game many expected us to be winning – especially with the team put out.
It looked like we were destined to keep in touch with Chelsea at the top, when Daniel Sturridge headed in from a corner in the 19th minute. However, Ragnar Klavan’s needless foul on N’Dong resulted in a Sunderland penalty, which Jermain Defoe converted.
A frustrating draw looked on the cards, until Sadio Mane struck in the 72nd minute, underlining how his presence would be missed during the month.
However, the same player made a stupid error by raising his hand for the soft free kick that lead to the Black Cats’ second penalty. Defoe, again, scored his 11th goal in 19 games with another clinical strike.
It was two points dropped at a struggling Sunderland side – and it sent the tone for the rest of the month.
Liverpool 0-0 Plymouth [8 January, Anfield], FA Cup
Many were expecting this to be a routine win for the Reds in the FA Cup tie – but League 2 Plymouth defied all odds by snatching a draw through defensive discipline. They didn’t create any chances, but an organised defence – something Liverpool lack, helped Argyle gain a draw.
Many after the game labelled Klopp ‘naive’ for fielding an inexperienced side – but that’s the FA Cup for you!
Southampton 1-0 Liverpool [11 January, St Mary’s], EFL Cup semi final
Loris Karius save, repeat, shite individual performances, repeat.
Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool [15 January, Old Trafford]
A game that should’ve been won from the Klopp’s Reds. Many thought we would roll over without our key players, and with United’s ominous form, the consensus was a comfortable home win against their biggest enemy.
However, even without Clyne, Matip & Mane in the side, we will got a very good point away at a United side in good form. James Milner slotted home a spotkick from Paul Pogba’s handball, in front of a stagnating Stretford End – and we looked poised for a shock victory, defending through adversity. But, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s offside header ensured the points were shared.
Plymouth 0-1 Liverpool [18 January, Home Park], FA Cup Replay
Nothing else of note, bar a rare Lucas goal from a set piece – and Divock Origi’s penalty miss. Top Reds get fuming on Twitter because of Sturridge’s performance.
Oh, and kudos to the drunk Plymouth supporters booing a YNWA consolation to fan Daniel May!
And then booed for singing a consoling YNWA. Plymouth morons. Made up they’re out. https://t.co/rpLu4thsrp
— Mike Nevin (@michaeltnevin) January 18, 2017
Liverpool 2-3 Swansea [21 January, Anfield]
Football’s underrated anyways, eh?
Liverpool 0-1 Southampton [25 January, Anfield], EFL Cup semi final].
Liverpool 1-2 Wolves [28 January, Anfield], FA Cup.
Klopp went for the youngsters just like he did vs. Plymouth, and the paid the price for it. A really sluggish start saw us behind in 30 odd seconds from a set piece AGAIN – and former Villa man Andreas Weimann made it 2-0 just before half time as the boo boys game out.
Divock Origi salvaged a consolation for us, but we deservedly bowed out of yet another cup, ending any lingering hops of silverware for the season. Cue United fans celebrating this result as their 21st league title, sealed, signed & delivered.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea [31 January, Anfield]
To maintain our very slim hopes of the title, we HAD to beat Antonio Conte’s table topping Chelsea at Anfield. Big response was needed from the players – we didn’t get that throughout the 90, but it was much improved from recent weeks.
It looked like yet another blow was to be landed for the Reds, and Chelsea were to effectively wrap the title up at Anfield – when David Luiz’s free kick put the visitors ahead, due to the poor vigilance of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
However, Gini Wijnaldum headed in for Liverpool, in what was a much-changed performance. Chelsea got themselves a penalty when Joel Matip was adjudged to have fouled Diego Costa in the penalty box.
The Belgian Mignolet redeemed himself with a low reflex save to the left of his goal – and had Roberto Firmino not wasted two clear cut chances towards the end, it could’ve been even better. That said, our glut of bad results could’ve worsened, if Costa converted in front of the Kop.
So, that left Liverpool with 3 points out of a possible 9. Of course, this is a shame, considering the season promised more coming into January. However, I think that fans are detracting from the fact that we’ve made an exceptional amount of progress under Klopp. The ones who compare him to Brendan Rodgers clearly represent ridiculous ideology.
To give you an idea of the progress we’ve made, we have more points after 23 games than in 23 of the last 25 seasons, and are 12 points better off than at this stage last season. Our net summer spend is roughly £150m less than both Manchester clubs.
That clearly shows that Klopp hasn’t had to rely on £180m from the board to achieve Champions League football, uncharacteristic of Rodgers. Whilst I think it was negligent of Jurgen not to invest into the January transfer window, progress is being made. Watch this space.
All it takes is for 4-6 new arrivals, and a few to exit that are surplus to our squad. If the complacency against the ‘lesser’ teams can be eradicated, the rest of this season could be one to savour.