Liverpool have deviated from their original trajectory this season, forcing fans to realign their expectations for what lay ahead in 2020/21.
Merely two months ago the Reds were at the Premier League summit, with some in the media suggesting Jurgen Klopp‘s men could once again run away with the title.
Fast-forward to present day, however, and Liverpool are 19 points adrift of leaders Man City and their relegation-like form has them in the chasing pack for a top-four spot.
An advantage over RB Leipzig in the Champions League last-16 means European success is still on the cards, but current circumstances ensure it is more of a hope than a realistic target.
Such drastic changes in a short space of time has led many to reflect on what would now be considered a successful season and what wouldn’t with less than three months of the campaign remaining.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Matt Ladson (@mattladson) and Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) are joined by Stephen Killen (@SteKillenLFC), Sebastian Killingbeck (@Tino_LFC) and Tommy Lister (@TLister77) to discuss our new set of expectations for the Reds.
What would you be happy with?
MATT: I’d be VERY happy with winning the Champions League and denying whoever finishes fourth a place in next season’s…
But equally, I’d take just finishing fourth and getting this horrible season out of the way.
JOANNA: Nothing would be better than putting our league woes behind us and going on to secure European glory, now that would be something!
At the end of the day, the bare minimum is a top-four finish which guarantees we’ll be dining at the top table of European football next season, hopefully, in front of a packed Anfield.
STEPHEN: If you offered me top four, I’d bite your hand off. The title defence hasn’t gone to plan at all but we have to look for some positives from this season and qualifying for the Champions League will do just that.
We have to scrape in, no ifs or buts. Then we have the summer to make some well-need additions and prepare for next season.
SEBASTIAN: We look like a completely different team this year; so I would be happy with quite simply good performances from here on out and for the squad to play to what we know they are capable of.
Last season we were mentality monsters and this year we seem anxious and apprehensive before we’ve kicked off.
TOMMY: I would be happy if Liverpool could make the results of the last six weeks not define the season by going on to seriously contend for European Cup No. 7.
And a break from the seemingly never-ending injury crisis would also be appreciated!
What do you expect?
MATT: I still expect us to give a top four a bloody good push. Whether it happens could be a lottery as I expect a lot of clubs will be in the running probably up until the final day. Goal difference could decide it…
JOANNA: My head says we’ll narrowly miss out on finishing fourth or above, despite our best efforts, and get as far as the quarter-finals in Europe.
But a final day nerve fest against Palace to decide our fate, like 2016/17, isn’t out of the question.
STEPHEN: We’re playing three of the so called ‘Big Six’ (Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United), there are plenty of points to pick up between now and then.
Let those laughing at our current form have their day, but we have to prepare for next season starting from Sunday. I would expect us to fight until the final day.
SEBASTIAN: I would expect the players to retain their passion and commitment, allowing us to build on the strengths of our less experienced players and hopefully reinvigorating the team to push for another title bid next season, in spite of the adversities we have faced this year.
TOMMY: I expect Liverpool’s injury problems to persist, making it difficult to gain momentum in the league in which we are in for a very tight battle for the top four.
However, if the injury issues start to fade, the squad is more than capable of going on a run and securing Champions League football next season.
What would be unacceptable?
MATT: Not improving our form from here on. Two wins in the last 10 league games is not form that should be difficult to improve on!
With 13 games left, less than eight wins would be unacceptable.
JOANNA: Letting the season pass us by without even mustering a fight back. I have no doubt Klopp’s men will be putting in the effort, but pushing on with relegation-like form cannot be tolerated.
STEPHEN: It would be unacceptable to waste the last five years of rebuilding. It would be criminal to settle on our misfortunes, allowing for this season to peter out and settle for anything other than a top-four finish.
SEBASTIAN: Not qualifying for the Champions League would undo all the astounding work Jurgen and the team have achieved over the last five years.
I would not be too surprised to see one of our front three leave should we fail.
TOMMY: It would be completely unacceptable if the same results and performances remain a consistent issue.
Klopp has to find other solutions while the club is in this current situation, hopefully diverting away from the usual 4-3-3 system that is heavily reliant on crossing, which has become far too predictable.
Liverpool will finish…
JOANNA: An optimistic 4th.