Premier League football returns Saturday with Liverpool perched at the top of the table. Jurgen Klopp’s side have impressed many with their exciting attacking play, even if doubts remain about their defending.
It’s obviously too soon for title talk, but Liverpool fans have cause for optimism as the season approaches midpoint.
First, on current form, Liverpool is fully deserving of their place at the top. Burnley aside, Klopp’s team have been near perfect, winning seven of their last nine matches, plundering a league-high 30 goals, and scoring four or more goals in five of their matches so far.
The Reds are yet to be outplayed this season, which is saying plenty, considering that they started the season with a tough schedule: Trips to Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea, as well as home games against Manchester United and defending champions Leicester.
Second, if form speaks to history, then , point to the future and Liverpool’s next eight matches – up to the season’s midway point – offer more reason for optimism.
Of those eight games, six pitch the Reds against teams currently placed between 10th and 20th on the league table. Their record this season against teams currently placed 8th or lower reads: played 7, won 6, lost 1. Eighteen points from a possible total of 21. If they keep up that kind of form going into the New Year’s Eve showdown with Manchester City, they’ll be well in the mix.
Especially since, over the same period, Chelsea play both Spurs and Man City; Arsenal play Man Utd and Man City, and Spurs play Chelsea and Man Utd.
Then, there’s squad health and depth. So far, Liverpool have been blessed with the former – no major injuries to key players – but they also look well covered with the latter, especially in attack where a fit Sturridge can barely get a game. Emre Can is also back to fitness in midfield, meaning Lallana, Wijnaldum and Henderson need not be overworked, and Klavan and Lucas have so far provided adequate cover for Matip and Lovren in defence.
But…….this is football. Form can turn, easy looking fixtures can become banana skins, bad luck can set in and injuries are a constant risk. Or Liverpool’s penchant for giving up soft goals may just cost them at some point. Titles aren’t won in November and no one is rolling out the ticker tape just yet.
For now though, if they keep their good form, avoid ill-fortune and stay healthy, Klopp’s team looks well poised to keep up the challenge.