Liverpool 2020/21, where to start? From injuries to injuries and more injuries to a six game losing run at Anfield, it was the most bizarre season. The Reds entered the campaign as champions, topped the table at Christmas, sat outside of the European places in March and finished as high as third by the time May came around with a centre-back partnership of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.
If you told a Liverpool fan at the start of the season that they’d play their last ten games of the season with Phillips and Williams at the back, some may have simply replied with, who? Whilst others would have laughed in your face and assumed that the Carabao Cup had extended itself to the end of the season.
Yet, against all odds, Jurgen Klopp’s side turned a season full of so much disarray into some form of success with a top three finish. Many were labelling them the worst champions ever at one stage. Though, when the full-time whistle sounded on the final day against Crystal Palace, they were 16 points away from champions Manchester City.
For context, that’s the same amount of points that City were away from the Reds last season. Worst champions ever? That statistic suggests otherwise, especially when considering title defences such as Chelsea’s, Leicester City’s and Manchester United in the past.
It was not the season they would have been hoping for, but, having played 18 different central defensive partnerships, including two midfielders and a youth player who had previously been on loan in the National League North, Jurgen Klopp will be delighted with a Champions League place.
Liverpool Season Review: A Campaign Which Saw New Heroes Formed
Moment to Forget
There were far too many moments to forget, that’s for sure. Yet, equally, there were plenty of moments to remember.
The six straight defeats at Anfield at the beginning of 2021 included many moments Liverpool wish they could wash away from their history. But the Merseyside Derby defeat against Everton topped all the misery. The Reds hadn’t lost at home to their Merseyside counterparts since 1999 before February 21.
An early strike from Richarlison before a late penalty goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson soon led to an embarrassing night at the office for the Reds. The record had been ended, the Anfield fortress was left in flames. It’s ironic, in a way, to think that the defeat was the worst moment in the Liverpool season as it came against the team who were to blame for both Thiago Alacantara’s and Virgil van Dijk’s injury.
Many believe that the defeat against the Tofffees was the nail in the coffin for the Liverpool season. Defeats against Chelsea and Fulham then followed, leaving top four an almost impossible task. As we know by now, however, impossible isn’t really a word in both Jurgen Klopp‘s or the Liverpool dictionary.
Moment to Savour
As alluded to before, there were many ups and downs throughout the Liverpool season. From January to March, disaster after disaster struck. Come mid-March and the beginning of April, however, Liverpool looked recognisable once more. Fabinho was back dominating in midfield, Thiago looked close to his best, as did Trent Alexander-Arnold. Crucially, two natural centre-backs formed a consistent partnership.
And ten unbeaten games, including eight wins, soon followed as a result. Among those was Jurgen Klopp’s first Old Trafford success against Manchester United as Mohamed Salah sealed a 4-2 victory. And to outdo that moment, something spectacular was needed. And, indeed, something spectacular soon followed.
With time ticking away at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool’s top four hopes slipping away, Alisson Becker strode forward for the last corner of the game to become the first Premier League goalkeeper to score a winning goal. The goal proved that anything can happen in the Premier League and that you should never write Liverpool off.
It’s as if the Brazilian got fed up of watching chance after chance wasted away and simply thought he might as well have a go. And have a go he did to write himself into the history books.
From there, top four was in their hands. A 3-0 win over Burnley was then followed by a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace to welcome back the Anfield faithful with an unexpected third place finish.
The earlier statistic about central defenders would have shocked Liverpool fans had you told them at the start of the season. But, if you told them that it was Alisson Becker’s goal which kept their top four hopes alive at the last gasp, you would have been labelled crazy.
Liverpool Player of the Season
In a season where new heroes prevailed at Liverpool, one man clung onto his crown in Merseyside. And that’s Mohamed Salah. As his counterparts plummeted in form, time and time again, the Egyptian scored goal after goal, eventually finishing second in the Golden Boot race by one goal. This season, more than ever, he has silenced any doubters.
His goals carried Liverpool at times. His quality is unquestionable. The fact that, even without several key players around him, he managed to maintain his form, suggests just how phenomenal Liverpool’s Egyptian king is.
Special mentions will rightfully go to Fabinho and Nat Phillips. Fabinho, as defenders were hit with the injury curse, stepped in with the class of a life-long defender. Yet, his impact when back in midfield gave Liverpool their identity back as one of the best teams in the league. No matter the job asked of him, he did it to the best of his ability.
And the same can be said about Phillips, a defender who hadn’t played top flight football before this season. The Englishman looked likely to leave in the summer after a loan spell in Germany, but, ever since the door of opportunity opened, he has not looked back, heading every ball away, assisting against Manchester United and even scoring at Burnley.
He has written himself into Liverpool folklore as the surprise hero of the season. Phillips summed up the phrase ‘warrior’ this season, battling away to help drag Liverpool back to where they belong.
Despite an eventual third place finish, Jurgen Klopp will be the most relieved man on the planet to see the Premier League season end at Liverpool. It has been the most stressful of his time at Anfield. Yet, even with a lack of resources throughout, he galvanised his squad, took them, against all odds, to a Champions League finish.
It won’t be remembered as the most impressive achievement of his tenure, but it is one which proves his expertise in abundance.
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