Liverpool were the Premier League champions the 2019-20 season and returned this season with high hopes of what they could accomplish as a team. However, their performances this season and specifically since the start of 2021 have been underwhelming for a multitude of reasons.
Injuries have had a detrimental effect on Liverpool’s previously good form. From star center back and captain Virgil Van Dijk’s ACL injury to future prospect Diogo Jota’s knee injury, the team just cannot catch a break from unfortunate incidents. Injuries to several other key players of a variety of positions across the team have made for inconsistent starting lineups. It is difficult to get in a rhythm when certain players are there one day and then absent the next few games.
Additionally, after coming off a season where Liverpool won the Premier League with 18 points more than the second place Manchester City, other teams have begun identifying Liverpool as the team to beat. Teams have started creating their game plan around the idea of taking down the leaders, which only makes the league more competitive.
“It is a difficult achievement to be at the top for an extended period of time because of the constant pressure and because everyone is gunning for you. You get everyone’s best game and the fans have such high expectations,” said Jeff Nelson, Athens Drive Magnet High School varsity soccer coach.
Since the start of 2021, Liverpool has picked up only nine points while suffering seven losses in the Premier League, dropping them all the way down to sixth place. They were also unbeaten at Anfield, their home stadium, since April 2017, but this run was ended by Burnley on Jan 21. Since then, Liverpool has lost 5 straight home games and is not showing any signs of improving to their former status.
“Liverpool just looks like a different team this year. I’ve been watching them for years now and I haven’t seen them struggling this much in a long time. It’s upsetting to me,” said Joshua Burkhardt, senior.
But, as important players return to the lineup, the team will be hoping to return to playing like last year. Many claim Liverpool still has what it takes to become a top tier team again, but whether or not their performances improve will determine the rest of their season.
“A top four spot and a good Champions League run is the goal at this point and I think with the experience that the team has in pressure situations, they will make a good run to finish the season. They’ve been there before and know what it takes. Football can also be a game prone to runs of good and bad form — I’m confident the run of good form is right around the corner for Liverpool,” said Nelson.