The 2021/22 Premier League season is around the corner and for Liverpool, this season is a battle as the club looks to find its way back to the top. The Reds won the 2019/20 Premier League title, fell short in the 2020/21 season and now watch as England's list of elite continues to grow.
How well did Liverpool do in the 2020/21 Premier League season?
Well, as Premier League seasons go, it was the definition of Murphy’s Law aka “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and boy did it all go wrong for Liverpool. It didn’t begin badly but by Matchday 15, after a 7-0 win over Crystal Palace, it all went so very very wrong. No wins in their next five games, their record breaking (but not quite English record) streak of home wins was ended…by Burnley. But the worst was yet to come. Their next ten game would see them lose six of them as Jurgen Klopp was forced to chop and change the team.
Major injuries to both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, plus Joel Matip later on, combined with both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino’s form disappearing out the window left issues. But a nine game unbeaten run towards the end of the season, helped their case as the Reds just about sneaked into the top four with 69 points. Not only that, it made their league record look a little respectable with 20 wins, 9 draws, and 9 defeats, and their numbers showcased their inconsistencies.
But given the fact that neither Gomez, Van Dijk or Matip have played a proper game of football in nearly a year plus the absence of a certain Dutch midfielder, you get the feeling that this team's ceiling might only be a third place finish.
Even with their issues, offensively they finished as the league’s third highest goals scorers with 68 goals, which was a serious drop off to their previous season’s record (85). But they still had the second highest xG per 90 (1.91), the second best assists per 90 minutes (1.32), the highest key passes completed (444), the second most touches overall (29822), and the best non-penalty xG or npxG (68.1).
Where they really struggled was defensively as the losses of key defenders plus a loss of form for the players left combined with Virgil van Dijk’s absence hurt Liverpool badly as they finished with the fourth best defensive record (42). The Reds combined that with the eighth best PSxG (Post-Shot Expected Goals) (48.0), had the most errors leading to a shot/goal (21), the third best successful pressure percentage (31.6%), committed the seventh fewest fouls (399), had the ninth best clean sheet percentage (31.6%) and they did that all the while averaging the third best Points Per Match at 1.82.
Improvements they’ve made so far
A post COVID-19 pandemic transfer window with several clubs suffering losses was never going to make the job easier and it clearly hasn’t. That’s probably why Liverpool have made just the one move in the form of Ibrahima Konate but signing the Frenchman alone is a huge deal. He adds defensive coverage that the club so desperately lacked the last term but is also an upgrade on what Joe Gomez could potentially be.
Possibly the only downfall has to be Konate’s injury record but even then, the young defender is highly regarded to be far better than Dayot Upamecano based purely on talent and potential. That’s saying a lot but it’s definitely not enough as a transfer window goes especially after the loss of Georgino Wijnaldum this summer on a free-transfer with no replacement signed as of yet. They may not even sign one with reports indicating that Klopp wants to try Curtis Jones out as a regular but that’s a risky move.
Even then, combine that with Jordan Henderson’s contract issues, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking a shadow of what he could be and potential departures in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and a few others, it doesn’t bode well. Even then, the real question is what changes can the club make especially with less than a week left for the start of the season? They have time before the window closes but options are very limited.
How well could Liverpool do in the 2021/22 Premier League season?
This is the prediction section and since the predictions all went out the window the moment the club suffered a serious and beyond imaginable injury crisis, we're fully expecting this to go out the window again. But given the fact that neither Gomez, Van Dijk or Matip have played a proper game of football in nearly a year plus the absence of a certain Dutch midfielder, you get the feeling that this team's ceiling might only be a third place finish. That's if Manchester United or Chelsea, somehow find their groove and figure out a way to challenge Manchester City for the league title.
The floor is somewhere between a 5th and 8th place but that's assuming the worst case scenario, with an injury crisis, or crisis period, worse than what the club saw take place last season and even then, that's pushing it. Yet, there is precedence especially for a Jurgen Klopp side but like most teams, you've got to hope for the best and prepare for the worst right? Although Liverpool aren't, once again, prepared for the worst.