A rollercoaster season at Anfield unfolded in 2017-18 with the Reds making great strides forward but settling for another trophyless campaign, after a fourth placed domestic finish and a heart-breaking Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
What went right
Attacking. Simply put, Liverpool possessed arguably the most potent front three, not only in the English game, but in the whole of world football this season. Their blistering forwards wreaked havoc across Europe and this was a major factor in their success. Seven goal thumpings of Maribor and Spartak Moscow in Europe, as well as big wins against Arsenal, Watford and Brighton in the league demonstrated their firepower in the front third.
Liverpool’s home form was another big positive, going unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League, with the only loss on home soil in all competitions coming against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup fourth round. Jurgen Klopp’s transfer business also proved a huge success, with Andrew Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Virgil van Dijk all having excellent impacts on the squad.
The standout, however, was Mohamed Salah, who conquered all that stood before him in one of the historic individual seasons in Liverpool’s glittering history. The Reds defied all odds in mounting a fairytale run to the Champions League final, endearing themselves to the Kop faithful along the way – which was the greatest highlight of the campaign.
What went wrong
Inconsistency plagued the Reds and really hurt their push to challenge Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. The Reds had just five defeats in the entirety of the season, but only three teams recorded more draws than their 12 – all of which came against the bottom six of the table. Frustrating home draws against the likes of Burnley, Everton and West Bromwich Albion proved costly, while dropped points from winning positions in big games against Arsenal and Tottenham were disappointing.
Philippe Coutinho’s departure also soured his five year career on Merseyside as many fans took exception to the way in which he left the club, while memories of the final in Kiev will haunt them until the next season starts in August.
Salah was simply electric in Liverpool colours this season, taking European football by storm after his then club-record transfer from Roma. A bright preseason led to a dazzling 2017-18, with the Egyptian simply ripping up the record books. Netting 32 times, Salah recorded the greatest-ever goal tally in a 38 game Premier League season, with 24 left-footed strikes also a new record. Individual accolades followed, as he won multiple African Player of the Year titles, the Premier League golden boot, as well as the PFA and Football Writer’s Association’s Player of the Year. Unfortunately for the winger, his season ended in tears with a Champions League final cameo halted with injury after 30 minutes. The whole football community is hoping that he will make it to the World Cup, where he will look to repeat his club heroics on the greatest international stage in sports.
Two arrivals are already confirmed for the Reds, with Naby Keita’s long-awaited arrival from Red Bull Leipzig and the surprise signing of AS Monaco’s powerful Brazilian midfielder Fabinho. Rumours of a move for Lyon captain Nabil Fekir are intensifying and a deal is looking likely, as the focus for the Reds in the summer is enhancing squad depth. Liverpool found themselves short towards the end of the season due to a number of key injuries, which exposed their lack of depth and showed that there is bolstering to be done in the transfer window. Emre Can’s departure for Juventus seems imminent, while the futures of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi remain in the air, with both failing to blossom on loan this season.
Grade – A
Klopp has hauled the club from the abyss of mediocrity that they have been stuck in for a number of years. Back-to-back top four finishes for the first time in nine years and a return to the biggest stage in world football give much reason for optimism on the red half of Merseyside. With another productive summer transfer window, Klopp has the tools to build a superb team and become a force to be reckoned with in European football. It is only a matter of time before Liverpool will be lifting silverware again, and the club is going in the right direction to ensure that happens sooner rather than later.