2019/20 was a long time coming for Liverpool fans. Until then, a few generations of Reds supporters had never witnessed the club win a league title and the ones that had had been waiting 30 years to see it again. There had been a couple of near misses over the years, but everything finally came together in 2019/20 after a dominant first half of the season.
After putting on such a great display, the pressure was on the Scousers to deliver again in 2021/22, but injuries and underperformances quickly put an end to that. The 4-3 win against Leeds at the start of the season, which very easily could have gone the other way, set the tone for what was yet to come.
The unique circumstances of the 2020/21 season helped to create some bizarre matches and scorelines, both for Liverpool and the rest of the Premier League teams. The absence of fans from stadiums was one of these and was attributed to more goals being scored in matches. The average of 3.79 goals per game in the season’s first 38 games was higher than in every season since 1930.
Liverpool’s embarrassing 7-2 loss against mid-tier Aston Villa was the most poignant example of this and was the point that many Reds fans realised the club wouldn’t be able to defend its title.
Not Given a Second Thought
Based on this, many pundits quickly wrote Liverpool off again for the 2021/22 season. One example of this was in The Guardian, where its tipsters gave the Kopites a predicted 4th place finish. Writing for the BBC Sport website, Phil McNulty was a little kinder to the Reds (despite him being an Everton fan), suggesting the club could finish second behind Manchester City.
Many assumed that Liverpool were now burnt out and in need of rebuilding, as is seen in almost all sports teams after enjoying a period of success.
The lack of big player acquisitions in 2019, 2020, and 2021 was also a big concern for pundits who assumed that this would leave the Reds without the necessary talent to mount another title challenge.
Most bookmakers were giving the club odds of around 5/1, making them around third or fourth favourite to win the title.
Has Liverpool Been Underestimated?
After a dismal performance for most of 2020/21 and no fresh faces that could come in to shake things up, it’s understandable that pundits and tipsters would predict a similar result for Liverpool in 2021/22.
However, there are some oversights here. Apart from a handful of exceptions, the squad is mostly unchanged from the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, where the Reds came within one point of the title and then won it by a country mile.
The biggest and most obvious oversight here is that Liverpool won all of its final five games last season and picked up 26 points from the 30 available in the last 10 matches. This saw Klopp’s men come from mid-table to third and secured them a place in the Champions League.
Klopp has also been adamant that he is targeting another title challenge, just as he was last year. He clearly has faith in his men being able to achieve this, especially since they’ve already proven themselves worthy twice before. The club also has the sixth most valuable squad in Europe, showing it is certainly not short of talent.
With seven games played, Liverpool are the only undefeated team in the Premier League with four wins and three draws. They sit second in the table, one point behind Chelsea, and one above Manchester City, Manchester United, Everton, and Brighton.
Of course, it’s a little early to draw any major conclusions, but there are some signs that the Reds are in with a real chance. The 2-2 draw against Manchester City was one of these, with Salah’s incredible strike showing just how talented he is.
Can Liverpool prove everyone wrong? No one can say for certain yet, but don’t write them off, they might surprise you.