Premier League Half-Term Report: Little to like about Liverpool
Team name: Liverpool
Current Premier League position: 9th
Giddy Highs: Blitzing Spurs at White Hart Lane for the second season running
The Reds’ 3-0 win at Tottenham in the early exchanges of the campaign, which took them up to fifth after three matches, gave a glimpse of the 2013/14 Liverpool that came so close to a first ever Premier League title.
Against a Spurs side who were far from terrible on the day, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling were instrumental in trashing the hosts 3-0.
If the England teenager had his shooting boots on it would have been four or five.
Crushing lows: Every match since, pretty much.
Liverpool have won one, drawn one, lost two of their four Premier League fixtures following the last international break, when Sturridge arrived back at Anfield with a sicknote. He hasn’t played since.
Worse, they were shockingly poor in defeats against Aston Villa and West Ham, and have been pretty terrible in the Champions League too, snatching victory at the death at home to Ludogorets before being beaten in Basel.
Four points from Anfield clashes with Everton and West Brom in their last two Premier League fixtures looks to have steadied the Reds’ ship somewhat, but they can’t get the former Manchester City and Chelsea striker back quickly enough.
Shining Star: Jordan Henderson
The new Liverpool vice-captain was on the pitch for every minute of the first 10 games of his sides’ 11-match winning run in the second half of last season, before being sent off at the end of the 3-2 win over Man City at Anfield.
Many Reds fans believe his absence in the 2-0 loss to Chelsea, which handed City back the initiative in the title race, proved decisive.
This season, Henderson has already laid on three assists in the top flight, having provided seven over the whole of last term, and scored the winner against the Baggies, putting him two months ahead of his 2013/14 first-strike schedule.
The 24-year-old has managed as much while winning more tackles and headers, as well as posting the same 87 per cent pass completion rate over similar average distances.
Whatever’s wrong with Liverpool, it’s not his fault.
Biggest Disappointment: Mamadou Sakho
Lazar Markovic, Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli, Simon Mignolet and Phillipe Coutinho could all credibly take this dubious honour, but none have been quite as disastrous as the Parisian.
France’s first-choice centre-half at the World Cup has become a liability, especially when ‘dealing’ with aerial balls, and lost his place in Brendan Rodgers’ XI prior to being laid low by a thigh strain at the end of last month.
The rest of the Premier League surely wishes him a speedy recovery.
Best bet for the rest of the season: To qualify from Champions League Group B @ 1/2
Even the most diehard resident of the Kop would admit that Liverpool have been wretched since Sturridge’s injury, which instantly served to widen the void in Rodgers’ side left by Barcelona’s new £75m man Luis Suarez.
With the England number nine expected back after this international break, Europe looks the place for Reds retribution, especially seeing as Ludogorets are very capable of taking some points off Basel over the next couple of gameweeks.
As for the Premier League, a team in this state of flux cannot be backed at 10/11 to retain their top four place, despite the open nature of the division this term.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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