A sixth place finish in the 2010-2011 season followed by an eighth place finish in the 2011-2012 season and a seventh place finish last season has seen the club miss out on qualification to the arguably the biggest tournament in football, the UEFA Champions League. We have not even come close to a fourth place finish; even our rivals from across Merseyside have been able to finish above us in the last two years.
The 2013-2014 has seen us get off to as good a start as we could have dreamt of, wins over Stoke City and Aston Villa in the opening two Premier league fixtures where followed by an unconvincing 4-2 win over Notts County in the Capital One Cup; a win which suggested that we are still the same side from the past few seasons, a side which loses concentration in critical parts of the game.
Then came the confidence boosting win over Man Utd last weekend, the win propelled us to the top of the league standings for the first time since January 2009 and got a lot of people talking. Though it’s still too early to start celebrating what we have seen so far this term suggests that we are moving in the right direction.
We have not been overly convincing; it took a last minute penalty save from summer signing Simon Mignolet for us to get the points against Stoke and he was at it a week later against Aston Villa when he saved a Christian Benteke shot to guarantee us another three points. Our second half performances have not been as good as manager Brendan Rodgers would have liked but we have been able to get maximum points in all our three encounters. This has all been down to a very disciplined defence and a reliable goalkeeper, no matter how the team performs offensively if it does not concede goals it is bound to be successful.
We have done smart business in the summer transfer window, we have cut our losses by selling Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing, number one goalkeeper Pepe Reina has also been loaned out to Napoli, Jay Spearing was sold to Bolton Wanderers and Jonjo Shelvey joined Swansea for a fee of around £5 million. A number of young players such as Suso, Conor Coady and Fabio Borini have also been sent out on loan so as to get more playing time. Eight players have joined the side with highly rated French defender Mamadou Sakho being the most expensive of the lot costing a fee rumoured to be £18 million.
Kolo Toure, Glen Johnson, Ally Cissoko and Sebastian Coates are all injured at the moment but there is little panic at Anfield highlighting that this time around the club has depth in defence. The addition of Victor Moses has given us another option upfront and with Luis Suarez returning in two games time our attack will only get better. Captain Steven Gerrard is adjusting nicely to his deeper role as seen by the number of interceptions and tackles he made against Man Utd. Lucas is slowly getting back into shape and the ever improving Jordan Henderson is winning a lot of fans even though he is being played out wide.
Joe Allen is the only natural cover for the defensive midfield position, which is the only position which looks thin in terms of options, we just hope that there will not be lengthy injuries and untimely suspensions to Gerrard and Lucas. Coutinho has not been at his best over the last two league games, hopefully he will come back firing after the international break. With no European competition to disrupt us we can expect a fresher squad with fewer injuries.
The team is as confident as ever, unlike last season we cannot complain much about the fixture list, if the fans are going to be as vocal in every home game as they where in the game against Man Utd not many teams will relish a visit to Anfield.
A lot of obstacles lie ahead we have to work hard on our offensive aspect of the game and killing off games if we are to counter the threat of our opponents who have also significantly improved their squads. Hard times are bound to fall on us at some stage of the season but, if we can take advantage of our good start to the season and build from here we may find ourselves in a very good position come the end of the season.
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