1. How would you sum up Liverpool`s season so far?
To describe it in one word, I’d say ‘unbalanced’. If you look at us we’re unbalanced in many aspects. We’re unbalanced in terms of the recruitment, with respect to the focus on the attacking options & the utter neglect of the defence. We’re unbalanced in terms of our form, with the joint best defensive record at home but the worst away.The draws have been frustrating & reminiscent of the problem we have with breaking down stubborn teams (namely Burnley & Newcastle), but many fans will agree the two defeats felt horrible (& unfamiliar given our previous record against the top 6).
We head into this international break in 5th place, which sets us up well for the run up to Christmas. It isn’t a terrible place to be given injuries, individual poor form & two humbling away defeats against our rivals.
2. Who has been the best performer for Liverpool in your opinion?
You can’t look further than Mo Sarah. He has been an inspired signing, almost fully nullifying the argument that we needed a centre forward this summer. With his 12 goals he has redeemed his reputation in the eyes of those who considered him a Chelsea reject. He’s on the way to becoming our highest scorer in a single season since Luis Suarez left. Honourable mentions go to Alberto Moreno & Joe Gomez. Moreno is another who has redeemed his reputation & has justifiably nailed down the left-back spot. Joe Gomez has recovered fully from very serious injury & has played (by & large) with a defensive maturity beyond his years. He has looked our best actual defender by a mile.
3. Which has been the best Liverpool performance this season?
The results against Arsenal & West Ham were similar in terms of the opposition failing to turn up. However, performance wise, West Ham was the best for me. The reason for this is that we had to continue our positive response to the Spurs defeat, & we did that. To finish that sequence of games with 3 wins, on a score aggregate of 10-1, is demonstrative of our strength. So in terms of the meaning attached to the games, the West Ham performance shaded it.
4. Which has been the worst performance this season from Liverpool?
The Tottenham game. I don’t recall ever being as angry watching a Liverpool game. I actually left early for work. The Manchester City game was mitigated by the red card, the Spurs game was simply a horrible performance. Dejan Lovren’s individual performance is much discussed (rightly), but the overall display was abject. Mignolet gave his doubters plenty of ammunition, the midfield were overran by an under strength Spurs midfield & bar Salah, our attacking players went missing. Two aspects of that performance really irked me; the first is that we got the game to 2-1 & conceded a sloppy goal on the cusp of half-time. The second is that Spurs scored their 4th goal after 55 minutes – this offered time for a response that just never came. The weak submission was very annoying & something I wish to never see again.
5. Do you think Klopp will address the defensive problems by making signings in January?
Simply put, no. In his time at Liverpool Klopp has only ever signed one player in January. That was Steven Caulker, arguably one of the oddest signings of any Liverpool era. He will hope for an upturn in Joel Matip’s form, for a mental recovery from Lovren & for Gomez to further mature. Those options, along with Ragnar Klavan, will be considered sufficient by Klopp.
6. What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of the season?
I said to my friend yesterday that I think we’ll finish 3rd, above Spurs & below the Manchester clubs. He questioned my sanity, but that’s what I hope for. I believe a good Christmas period will give us momentum for the back end of the season. The reason I believe we will finish 3rd is because Spurs have had a more difficult Champions League Group & I believe that will catch up with them. There will also be an injury to Harry Kane at some point, & while they’re far from a one man team, he’s their main source of goals. I believe we will reach the quarter finals of the Champions League, subject to getting a good draw in the last 16 on the back of finishing top of our group. That, coupled with a 3rd place finish will represent a progressive season. Sadly I see little by way of a FA Cup run, which is a shame as I’d like to see more of Robertson, Grujic, Solanke, Woodburn & Karius/Ward.
7. Who would you sell/buy in January to strengthen the squad?
I would buy Virgil Van Dijk if Southampton would sell (this appears unlikely, especially to us). I would rectify previous mistakes by having a tangible plan B. In terms of other options, I like Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli & Jamaal Lascelles from Newcastle. I really believe the latter could be honed into a better ball playing defender, & he already has the bellowing rugged defensive quality we’re sorely lacking. I would keep the rest of the squad, but try & get Keita in early.