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3 good, 3 bad: Liverpool’s half season report card for 2021/22

Liverpool have reached the midway point of the 2021/22 campaign and already we’ve had plenty of positives and a couple of negatives to look back on as we close out the year.

The Reds made a great start to the Premier League campaign and remain in the title hunt, even if the last outing of 2021 ended on a fairly sour note.

In Europe, it’s full steam ahead and a trip back to Milan to look forward to, while our domestic cup run situation looks better this year than it has for a fair few campaigns, too.

Here’s a look back over the opening five months of the season and the best and worst of what we’ve seen so far…

 

3 half-season highs…

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 24, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates with team-mate Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal, the first of his hat-trick, during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Beating our rivals is great. Absolutely battering them and leaving them humiliated in their own stadiums, though, was utterly euphoric.

The Reds went to Old Trafford in October and basically serve Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his exit notice, putting five past Man United in a performance which mere words cannot explain or express the absolute dominance, casual insolence and even, towards the end, impatient irrelevance to just get on with the next proper challenge which was on show.

Liverpool absolutely wiped the floor with United, four up by the break and five by 50 minutes, before showing some form of self-preserving mercy to just toy with their hosts for the rest of the game.

Everton must have been dreading the same treatment when we were two up inside 20 minutes at Goodison Park five weeks later, and while it was a different kind of game overall, Jurgen Klopp‘s side still flexed their muscles and proved – by an absolute league – far too good for their neighbours.

Nine goals combined meant fans of both teams were streaming out early, unable to stomach more of the Reds’ brilliance – and they’ve both got to visit Anfield later this season!

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, October 19, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Virgil van Dijk celebrates after the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 3 game between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On a more over-arching consistency view, winning all six Champions League games during the group stage was not only a show of brilliance, but also a record-setting run.

No Premier League club had achieved that feat before and winning twice against each of AC Milan, Porto and Atletico Madrid was a very worthy way to do it.

Some of those wins came in very different ways of course, and by different margins, but we were comfortably the best side regardless.

Plus we got to see a Nat Phillips drag-back inside his own penalty box in the San Siro.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool's players celebrate with Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For more of a ‘moment’ and a cacophony of noise, it’s hard to look past the recent League Cup win over Leicester for a big Anfield occasion.

The way the side was roared on was exceptional – as was the way they responded having been 2-0 and 3-1 down.

A second-half fightback culminated in Taki Minamino’s last-minute, stoppage-time equaliser after all of the Foxes’ play-acting, time-wasting and complaining led to a massive amount of injury time.

Penalties, Kelleher, Jota, madness. Brilliant.

 

3 half-season lows…

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 28, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino applauds the travelling supporters after the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Well, if we’re taking the Leicester win as a positive, the Leicester defeat is probably the biggest low of the campaign.

Much has been made of the comments from the opposition, the chants from their fans and the lineup and style of play they employed against each of Man City and then ourselves…but there’s still nobody to blame but Liverpool for that loss.

The most dismal showing of the season right when we should have ended the year on a bigger high, hurting our title bid in the process.

We’ll have to bounce back in the new year!

We are fortunate – and acknowledging of the fact – that as Reds fans, there haven’t been too many negatives to take during the first half of 2021/22.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 12, 2021: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott receives treatment for an ankle injury before being carried off during the FA Premier League match between Leeds United FC and Liverpool FC at Elland Road. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But early on we certainly had a big one: a really bad injury to Harvey Elliott, just as he was looking strong and set with his place in the team, as a massive plus at the start of the season.

He’s well on the road to recovery, but will need time and patience to get back to that level again.

And finally, the defeat to West Ham was our first of the season, a scatty defensive performance that proved costly and can’t be repeated too often.

They were in-form, pushing for the top four and had a very settled side, all true, but we’ve had such good results against them (and everyone else) that any defeat stung at that time.

Onward to 2022, then, and fewer of these already-few negative moments hopefully!


Overall grade: A-

Champions League? Won every game. League Cup? Won every game.

The only real disappointment so far is too many draws in the league (only one team in the top nine have drawn more than the Reds). The draw against Brighton, plus defeats to West Ham and Leicester, have been the only real blots on the copybook.

We need to cut out the draws in the second half of the season – where an almost perfect campaign is required if Man City are somehow to be overhauled.

If not, focus on winning Number 7 in St. Petersburg, and a domestic cup or two would be nice…

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