Liverpool fans could not have expected the squads dip in form after the 2021/22 cup double and defeating Manchester City in the Community Shield in the 2022/23 season.
Liverpool have built their reputation as being the best in high intensity, high press football controlling the game. The Reds prefer controlling the ball in the opposition’s half and attacking through the wings and through the middle.
The 2022/23 season has seen a monumental drop in the intensity Liverpool play with and a vulnerability never seen before. Other issues include injuries to key players, transfer policy errors and behind the scenes uncertainty with club ownership. As a result this has caused one of the worst drops in form in the tenure of Jurgen Klopp.
Analysis to Date
First 5 games
The first half of the 2022/23 season was marked by Liverpool having a difficult start registering two wins in their first five games. After five games Liverpool had nine points out of a possible fifteen points. This is in sharp contrast to the 2021/22 where they had registered four wins in the first five games putting thirteen points on the table out of a possible fifteen points.
Lack of Consistency
Liverpool have lacked the consistency that drove their title winning campaigns and challenges of yester year failing to put together a string of wins this season. This season has seen Liverpool defeated at home for the first time in 30 games after falling 1-2 to Leeds and Anfield is no longer the fortress it once was.
Fast forward twenty games Liverpool have registered only eight wins and five draws overall in the English Premier League. Liverpool have only scored 34 goals and conceded 28 goals and have 29 points on the league table. At the halfway point of this season Liverpool have lost 7 games so far.
To put things into context in the 2021/22 season Liverpool lost only two games all season long compared to the seven games they have lost at the half-way point of the 2022/23. In the whole of last season Liverpool only conceded 26 goals in 38 games whereas this season at the halfway point they have already let in 28 goals.
In the first twenty games the best position Liverpool has achieved in the league table is fifth with the average position being sixth in the 2022/23 season league standings. Last season Liverpool average position was second in the league.
Liverpool’s transfer activity has not been inspiring at all over the past two seasons. Liverpool has spent very little compared to their title rivals but still managed to exceed expectations season after season.
The 2022/23 season has seen a marked improvement in the transfer policy with Liverpool spending £102 million for Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo in the summer and winter transfer windows. Previously Liverpool had spent £73.5 million for Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz in two transfer windows.
Liverpool has however moved out 10 players including Sadio Mane, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Neco Williams in 2022/23 and 11 players including Georginio Wijnaldum, Xherdan Shaqiri and Harry Wilson in the previous two transfer window.
Aging player and poor form
While the club has spent very little in squad development the Liverpool squad has been aging particularly in the midfield and forward areas. Liverpool’s main Midfield players Jordan Henderson (32), Thiago (31) and Fabinho (28) are a shadow of themselves this season maybe due to the sheer number of games the players were asked to play in their potential quadruple winning season.
Henderson for example was in the Liverpool squad 35 times and played all 35 times in 2021/22 season. He had far better statistics in terms of defensive tackles, interceptions, and dribbles completed. Offensively Henderson has fallen in terms of shots per game, key passes per game, pass success percentage and assists. Given Henderson’s importance to the squad his drop in form is likely to influence the whole squad.
Liverpool has had very little cover in midfield with Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Harvey Elliot not carrying their weight in terms of goals and contributions on the field.
Liverpool have dropped of significantly in front of goal in the 2022/23 season compared to last season. At the twenty-game stage Liverpool have only managed to score 29 goals with their top scorers being Salah and Firmino with seven goals each.
Mohamed Salah has been a shadow of himself this season compared to 2021/22 where he had scored 16 goals by this stage including a hattrick and a brace against Manchester United and Everton respectively.
Fast forward to this season Salah only has seven goals in the 20 appearances he has made for Liverpool. This could stem from Liverpool not controlling games they did in previous years causing less shots per game, less dribbles and less passes in the 2022/23.
Injuries to Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz
Injuries have affected goal scoring significantly this season. Key performers for Liverpool including Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz have failed to contribute this season as expected. In the 2022/23 season Liverpool had nine different goal scorers compared to last season where they had fifteen different scorers.
New signing Darwin Nunez has not hit the ground running as expected with only 5 goals to his name in the 2022/23 season. He has had to cover for the absent Diogo Jota who has only made 4 appearances this season. In the same period last year Jota had 10 goals to his name proving invaluable to Liverpool’s title charge. His injury has really hit Liverpool hard, and the club and fans alike cannot wait for his return.
Liverpool is not as defensively stable as they have been in yester year. In the 2022/23 season Liverpool have only managed five clean sheets compared to 9 clean sheets in the same period last year. Liverpool have also conceded more goals this season (28 goals) than in the 2021/22 season (16 goals) showing a defensive fragility.
Defensively Liverpool have felt the impact of a missing Virgil van Dijk who has been ruled out since early January. Liverpool have suffered two heavy 3-0 defeats in the absence of Van Dijk. Some can argue that in the other seventeen games that he was playing Liverpool have lost five times indicating that despite his presence Liverpool are defensively weaker than the 2021/22 season.
Van Dijk has seen a drop on the number of interceptions per game from previous seasons . Due to loss in pace by the player he has seen a drop in the number of offsides won per game. The lack of midfield cover has also seen Van Dijk having to make more clearances per game than previous seasons as well as having to make more blocks and tackles which are not his area of strength. The number of fouls has also significantly increased this season.