It is fair to say that 2017 has not been a very good year for Liverpool FC so far. After the immense progress that was made in the first half of the season, what has happened since the turn of the year has been anything but.
Time and time again
It was becoming an all too familiar story in the build-up to Sunday's (12th March) game against Burnley. Effective and impressive against the top sides and not so much in the games against the so called 'lesser' teams. As stated on the Fotmob website, all of Liverpool's five defeats have come against teams in the lower half of the table.
It was a familiar story with gravitas. Having beaten the likes of Arsenal and Spurs in recent weeks, there were also defeats to Leicester City and Hull.
A different story
It was because of this back-drop that the victory against Burnley was so important. As reported on the Daily Mirror website, although it was a poor performance, the team demonstrated their ability to, as Jurgen Klopp put it, "win ugly". They certainly did that, winning 2-1. But what was equally impressive was their ability to turn the game around. Usually in games such as this, the player's heads would go down and defeat would be begrudgingly accepted. Not here however. After falling behind to an early Ashley Barnes goal in the seventh minute, it could have set the tone for the rest of the game. This has happened on more than one occasion. Even #Jurgen Klopp alluded to this in his post-match interview.
As reported on the BBC, Klopp said that "this is the kind of game we haven't won" in the past. As it was, goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can ensured that Liverpool secured all three points.
Why the inconsistency?
We must first of all say that immense progress has been made. Last season the Reds finished in eighth position. This season they are currently fourth. Now although the reached two cup finals last season, their league form has been much, much better this year. With regards to the inconsistency, in beating the top sides but not the lower ones, it seems that there are two reasons for this behaviour. First of all there is the mental side. It is not hard to be motivated and 'up for it' against a Manchester United or a Chelsea, but against the likes of Hull City or Burnley, the same ferocious play and performance has been lacking. It seems that the players believe that they just need to turn up and they will win. But in this league that is certainly not the case. It really is dog eat dog. Any side in the #Premier League can beat another.
That is what makes the league the best in the world. But the second factor may be more damning. Have teams figured out how to play Liverpool? Certainly against the top sides it is easier for the Reds because the opposition are more inclined to push forward, which leaves space to exploit. However, a team such as Hull simply do not do that. They concentrate on kicking long from the back and putting the opposition players under pressure. This problem is compounded by the fact that the team has no plan b. Jurgen Klopp even admitted this, saying, as reported in the Daily Mail, that there is no "special plan b" to beating the lower placed teams. That is a major problem and points even more to the potential mistake in selling Christian Benteke last summer.
In moving on, the final question to ask is, how will the season pan out for Liverpool? After this coming weekend the team faces none of the top six again and if they can get their act together and start picking up victories against the lower teams, they should make it into the top four. It promises to be an intriguing end to the season with lots of ups and downs to come. #liverpool fc