After our recent away wins at Stamford Bridge and Eithad, the general mood among fellow supporters has significantly improved. Up to this point, this season has not been a particularly good one for Liverpool. The 2015/16 season started with a manager many thought should have been gone, and he has indeed been asked to leave the club, has pretty much bounced sideways until the recent change at the helm.
Many media pundits have begun to take us seriously as a top four contender. One ESPN columnist even said we should dare to dream about winning the title this season! This is, no doubt, a direct outcome from our utter dismantling of Manchester City. With our lads’ recent improved performances and results, how excited should we be feeling? Or did Klopp’s appointment as manager come too little, too late?
20 points, 9th spot
After 13 rounds of football have been played, we are currently sitting on ninth position with 20 points in the bag. We would have dropped another notch if Crystal Palace’s home form has not been as bad as ours. We have 20 points from 13 games and seem stuck around mid-table. It does not seem like there are too much positives to make us to feel overly excited.
At the beginning of the season, I told a couple of fellow Liverpool supporters if we could get 25 points from our first 13 games, it will be an exceptional start for us. Knowing that we were going to play away at the top four teams of the previous season, our noisy neighbours and one of our bogey teams, I figured if we win all of our six home matches and draw all these seemingly tough away games, we would end up with 25 points after 13 games. That must at least put us in contention for one of the Champions League spots.
Top four finish
Over the course of a season of 38 league games, if a team won all its home games and drew all its away games, it would end up with 76 points. And if a team won all its home games, won half of its away matches (10), and drew the remaining nine, it would end up with 95 points. (Of course, only one team has ever finished a Premier League season undefeated. This is just a way of looking at the numbers so as to give us a sense of how difficult, or easy, the task is.)
The Premier League started from the 1992/93 season. Starting from the 1995/96 season, the top tier of English football would only have 20 teams. And since 1995/96, the most points in a season was 95 points achieved by Chelsea in 2004/05. Over the same period, 72 was the highest number points amassed by a team that finished fifth. This happened twice, Tottenham in 2012/13 and Everton a year after.
Barring freakish circumstances, if we can win all our home games and draw all our away games over the course of a season, we would have all but assured a top-four finish. In fact, 76 points would even have won the league back in the 1996/97 season, one which a certain team from Manchester took the title with a grand total of 75 points.
Immediately after Klopp was appointed the manager of LFC, I texted an Everton fan a list of nine reasons why we were well-placed to gun for the title. This was primarily done in jest and served more as football banter between friends. But it really is not preposterous for us to now feel optimistic. Personally, I need optimism to help me believe, so that I will not doubt.
Going back to our original question of how optimistic can we afford to be? Ninth spot after 13 games does feel like getting stuck in second gear. While it seems like we have turned the corner, but have we moved onto the expressway of success?
With our toughest fixtures now out of the way, Klopp has a great opportunity to work his magic. The supposed difficult matches are over, Klopp will have more time with the players, the squad will increasingly be able to play according to his system, and we should expect more players returning to us from injuries. And if we win a trophy and regain our rightful place in the Champions League this season, Klopp will be recognised as a bona fide miracle worker, if not an Anfield legend in the making.
But, and this is a huge but, we still have to perform well and get the required results in the final two-thirds of the season. Like we have all heard before, “there are no easy games in the Premier League.” And we know how true it is. While the sky is a lot bluer than a couple of months back, we should still expect turbulence during this flight. Thus, while we are certainly right to feel optimistic, we should stay cautiously optimistic.