Jurgen Klopp has assessed Liverpool FC’s 2018 as “a fantastic, fantastic year apart from one really shit day.” Here is the last 12 months as told through the camera lens.
From victory at Burnley on New Years’ Day, to the heartbreak of spring in Kyiv. Then after what felt like a very short summer break, the Reds bounced with a bang from August—in the Premier League at least.
Here is the best of the Reds in photo form over the last year.
Where better to start than with a last-gasp winner away at Sean Dyche’s Burnley? He’s no fan of Liverpool or Jurgen Klopp, so Ragnar Klavan‘s added-time header felt exceptional amongst all the hangovers.
Dejan Lovren was more excited with his assist than his centre-back partner was with his goal, and he wasn’t shy at showing the travelling Kop just what it meant to him.
Liverpool had finally got the defender they desired, and he was to make an immediate impact. Kick-starting a wonderful year for the Dutchman.
Mid-January should have been an indicator to all that 2018 had surprises in store. When Man City rolled into town, very few gave the Reds a chance against Pep Guardiola’s side.
However, in 10 wonderful second-half minutes, Liverpool ripped the champions apart. It was to be the first of three occasions that Klopp’s men would reign supreme against the Manchester club.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain kicked off proceedings with a wonderful strike from the edge of the box, he too looked as pleased as punch with what was his third goal of that season.
The Champions League returned from its winter hiatus and Liverpool travelled to Portugal to face FC Porto. With a fortress-like record at home, the Portuguese side were expected to give the Reds a stern test.
As it was, Liverpool simply blew them away in an orange kit that was beginning to become a lucky charm. Sadio Mane took home the match ball after his three goals while both Firmino and Mohamed Salah added to the tally.
The Egyptian juggled the ball in the area to leave everyone watching breathless; on the biggest stage Liverpool’s from three showed their worth.
The Senegalese forward had a smile on his face and a spring in his step, as caught in his acrobatic celebration.
As winter gave way to spring there was a very special feeling around Anfield. Liverpool were looking like top-four contenders again while simultaneously raising eyebrows in Europe.
Mid-table Watford arrived on a Saturday evening and became another statistic as the Reds just couldn’t stop scoring. On an unusually snowy spring night Liverpool lit up the old stadium.
Salah hit the Hornets for four, the Egyptian grabbing all but one of the five goals offered up on an evening that underlined how good he was in front of goal.
While the ‘beast from the east’ froze most of Europe, there was warm feeling across the world as far as Liverpool fans were concerned.
After dispatching Man City with relative ease in January, the Reds expected a far harder test in the Champions League. However, once again Liverpool simply ate up their northwest neighbours with absolute ease.
Anfield was at its very best—as only a European night can bring—and the football played out on the pitch signified Liverpool as a force to be reckoned with.
Oxlade-Chamberlain hit another rocket from distance to double the score after Salah had opened the scoring after just 12 minutes.
Fast-forward another 10 minutes and Liverpool were in dreamland, Sadio Mane scored the Reds’ third just after the half-hour mark—cue the wild celebrations.
The year was now beginning to revolve around the competition that Liverpool had won five times previously.
Could the Reds overcome Man City away in the second leg? If so, what awaited them in the next round?
The back-end of March had all the answers, in the most emphatic way. Liverpool travelled to Manchester backed by thousands of travelling supporters—they were to witness another magical European evening.
Salah broke Manchester hearts surrounded by a plume of blue smoke, before Firmino capped a wonderful night at the Etihad. However, it was the act of kindness by Oxlade-Chamberlain that caught the attention.
Passing his match-worn shirt to four-year-old Bobbi Jaggar, the midfielder underlined the unity between players and fans that had blossomed during a spectacular run of games.
Whilst April had been an amazing month it harbours—as it does every year—a deep-seated pain. The loss of 96 supporters in the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 was remembered by all, in the same impeccable way in which it has been for the 28 years previous.
A 3-0 victory a fitting scoreline on a day of remembrance for loved ones lost.
There was to be one final hurrah for the month of April. After two superb fixtures in the Champions League against Man City, Liverpool welcomed AS Roma to Anfield as the clubs faced each other for the first time in the European Cup since their 1984 final.
Roma had beaten Barcelona over two legs to reach the semi-final. There was no way the Reds could replicate their earlier displays in the competition, was there?
Yes, Liverpool stunned their Italian opponents by racing into a 5-0 lead, even with two late goals for the visitors the tie felt complete.
Salah refused to celebrate against his old side but that didn’t stop his team-mates, Liverpool looked every inch Champions League finalists on yet another wonderful European night.
The shine was taken off the evening however by two events. Firstly on the pitch, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain—now a key member of Klopp’s starting XI—ruptured his knee ligament.
While outside the stadium, Liverpool fan Sean Cox was savagely attacked by a group of visiting Italian fans.
It left the Irish fan with life-changing injuries. Our best wishes continue to be with him and his family as he progresses through a very long recovery.
The pursuit of European glory had left Liverpool teetering on the edge of an unwanted possibility: win in Kyiv to guarantee Champions League football next season. Thankfully it was avoided, even after a loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool travelled to Rome looking to safeguard a 5-2 lead, after being put through the mixer the Reds eventually hung on to 7-6 on aggregate.
A trip to remember for those who were lucky enough to be in the Italian capital.
The final home game of the 2017/18 season saw Brighton come to Anfield in an occasion where the Reds would be waved off to Ukraine in style.
Salah scored yet again, he was to end the campaign with a shiny golden boot—however, it was goals from unlikely sources that brought about a well-earned victory.
Lovren got himself on the scoresheet with Andrew Robertson also notching his first goal of the season on the very last day.
Meanwhile, after the final whistle the players embarked on their customary lap of Anfield. Trent picked up the converted Golden Samba from the Kop as he was voted the best young player of the season by supporters.
Everything was now set for Liverpool’s first Champions League final for 10 years: could the Reds shake off the memory of Athens and lift old big ears once again?
No, the loss of Salah proved a step too far for a Liverpool side who looked empty of energy after a wonderful season. Liverpool might have lost on the pitch but the city of Kyiv would be remembered for everything bar the 90 minutes.
The summer was a chance for all to recharge their batteries after an eventual first half to 2018. Joy and expectation had given way to despair, but Liverpool soon raised smiles once again thanks to a flurry of incoming players.
Fabinho joined the Reds the day after defeat in Kyiv to show everyone it was about looking forward, not backwards.
A cool £65 million was spent on the goalkeeper from Roma, it was the signing everyone craved and it would soon become evident why.
Liverpool toured America, and it was to be Shaqiri who stood out. An overhead kick in a pre-season game against United made everybody sit up and take notice of the newly arrived Swiss international.
By the time the opening day of the 2018/19 season came, Liverpool fans had brushed off the disappointment suffered at the hands of Real Madrid and were ready for another season of football.
August witnessed three wins from three with 10 goals scored and crucially, only two conceded. The summer month was to set the tone for autumn and winter.
There was a slight panic when Firmino picked up a nasty looking eye injury away at Spurs, but his pain was to become a celebration as September arrived.
As autumn began Liverpool were flying and the Reds hadn’t felt what it was like to be on the losing side. An early League Cup exit to Chelsea was met with a shrug of the shoulders because the Anfield side looked a real force in the Premier League.
However, in the Champions League the Reds had been given a group of death. First up was the amassed ranks of PSG and one Neymar. In true Liverpool style he was left in a heap as the Klopp’s men channelled the energy of the spring.
Liverpool had stood the test of the French champions despite a late charge by the Parisians. Neymar and Co. left the northwest of England with their tails between their legs after grandly proclaiming they wouldn’t fall to the Anfield atmosphere.
Southampton saw the arrival of Shaqiri properly—yes, he’d scored a wonderful goal in America but that was pre-season. There were a number of individuals doubting the ex-Stoke players credentials. How would he answer them? Emphatically.
The attacker was involved in two Liverpool goals as he showed just why Klopp was right to snap him up on a cut-price transfer fee. It also signified the start of some humorous photos whenever the player was involved in a goal.
October witnessed Liverpool’s first Champions League defeat since May, away to Napoli—it was to be a theme while the Reds were on their European travels.
Back on English soil though, there was to be no answer to Jurgen Klopp‘s men. While many were touting Man City as the best side to ever kick a spherical bag of air, Liverpool went about their business of picking up points.
Pep Guardiola was so worried of the Liverpool attack that he changed his entire system to try and counter the Reds giving City yet another pasting.
Red Star Belgrade became the latest team to be smashed under the lights at Anfield as they went down 4-0, with Shaqiri providing the spark once again.
Halloween just disappeared before Liverpool travelled to the Emirates—however, there was to be no fright night for the Reds at the hands of new boss Unai Emery. The architect of a downfall in Basel was to watch his new club take a share of the points in north London.
The Champions League was forgettable as Liverpool slumped to another two away defeats, only victory at home against Napoli would see the Reds through to the knockout stage—but this club thrives on pressure.
Liverpool beat Fulham at home before travelling to Watford, once again the Reds picked up maximum points. Shaqiri got to stick his tongue out again while Salah had a pop at Sergio Ramos who had been named in a Football Leaks article about an alleged doping irregularity in May 2017.
Liverpool faced a terrifying December that consisted of fixtures against Everton, Man Utd and Arsenal while the matter of a ‘must win’ game against Napoli to ensure the Reds were in the Champions League come the spring of 2019.
Eight fixtures that could go some way into defining the whole season, how would the Reds cope—could they catch Man City at the top of the table?
Van Dijk looked all the more pleased than the goalscorer, it was his miss-kick that provided the opportunity for Jordan Pickford to gift wrap Liverpool an early present.
Yet again ‘Merry Christmas, Everton‘ rang out from the Kop.
Burnley away was next, almost 12 months since the Reds last visit to the small Lancashire town. Again it was to be Shaqiri who stole the show. The attacker bagging another injury-time winner, and another chance to see a fast-becoming cheeky celebration.
Liverpool had proved they could fall behind and still take all three points, the Reds were still unbeaten in the league while City looked nervously over their shoulders.
Bournemouth were the next team to receive a hiding before a winner-takes-all game against Napoli. Salah scored the important goal—he always does—but it was Alisson where the conversations pointed towards.
The big Brazilian had been brought in to win games, to make the type of saves that ensured Liverpool kept their lead at crucial moments. So when he denied a Napoli equaliser with seconds of the game remaining, Anfield erupted.
If ever a save was worth as much as a goal it was now—right here, right now—and the goalkeeper delivered to the joy of 52,000 supporters packed into Anfield.
Liverpool had won their first four games out of December’s eight on offer, could they match this in the next four?
United came in search of a draw and got hammered, that spelt ‘Tchau’ for Jose Mourinho—the Portuguese boss was sacked the next day as Shaqiri came off the bench to smash home two goals.
That meant we all got to see him celebrate again—a now familiar scene.
If United were falling apart so were neighbours Man City: the Reds had leapfrogged ‘the best team in world footballing history’ to sit top of the world’s best league—maybe this Liverpool side were the ones to talk about now?
The Reds were purring just as their closest rivals were running out of 2018 fuel. Spurs pulled themselves into a title fight for three days before they too crashed to a defeat.
The Gunners scored first in a move that replicated poking a stick in a wasp nest. Liverpool stung back immediately, then just as quickly took the lead, eventually running out 5-0 winners.
Firmino hit the Londoners with two quick strikes, the second of real quality but it was the first that saw the return of ‘no look Bobby’.
At the final whistle Liverpool waved farewell to 2018 in style, all eight fixtures had been won comprehensively.
What will 2019 bring? We dare to dream.