At the Half: Five Surprises for Liverpool This Season

Go team! - Clive Brunskill

We make predictions at the start of the season knowing full well the folly of doing so, and already mid-way through the season there are many talking points that weren't necessarily on anyone's radar in early August.

There are still two matches left in the first half of the season and they're arguably Liverpool's biggest matches of the campaign so far. Manchester City and Chelsea won't be easy opponents, but unexpected results in either one or both games wouldn't necessarily be out of order for a Liverpool team that has consistently surprised this season. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of those ways in which Liverpool has surprised, but they're certainly some of the surprises that stand out most.

1) Top of the Table at Christmas

I've been very optimistic about the Brendan Rodgers project from the outset, but in a very reserved way. I've been told that Rome wasn't built in a day, and at the start of the season I had very tempered expectations about what 2013/14 would bring Liverpool. A sixth place finish is where I saw the club come May, and while we still have half a season's worth of fixtures to contend with, I never would have predicted that we'd be top of the table at Christmas. I didn't even think we'd be fourth at Christmas! Never have I been so happy to be so wrong.

2) Pepe Who?

In a club that really values its heroes and loves to adopt longtime loyalists as honourary Scousers, Pepe Reina's fall from grace has been a sad thing to witness — assuming he's even still on your radar, which he isn't for many. Without taking away from his many accomplishments while he was Liverpool's number one between the sticks, any pangs of disappointment over Reina's departure on loan to Napoli were immediately eradicated when new boy Simon Mignolet made an incredible penalty save against Stoke on opening day at Anfield. Some occasionally long for Reina's distribution or other qualities he may have that Mignolet is still developing, but most now seem resigned to hoping Liverpool find an easy way to offload the Spaniard in the summer when his loan ends.

3) Luis Suarez & Jordan Henderson: Power Couple

Suarez has obviously been in irrepressible form, and in classic Hendo style, the Englishman has worked (and run) himself to death to make an impact regularly on the pitch. When the season started, the talking points in attack revolved around how Daniel Sturridge and Suarez would play together once the latter returned from his ban. Since Sturridge's injury, though, it's been Henderson who has stepped up to provide handsomely for Suarez, with all five of Hendo's assists in the league leading to Suarez goals.

4) Daniel Agger Chronically Benched

After the season he had in 2012-13, which had the great Dane featuring in a career-high number of matches for Liverpool, Agger was thought to be the knocked-on starter for the current season and that all remaining centre backs on the team would be fighting for the space to the defender's right. This hasn't been the case, as freak injury and good form by his teammates has kept Agger out of the line-up more often than he would like. I'm fairly confident that despite obviously preferring to be on the pitch than on the bench, Agger seems properly aware that there's a bigger turning tide at hand that goes beyond this season and that if Liverpool secure European competition next season, there will be more than enough matches to go around for everyone.

5) Camaraderie

As fans it's hard to guage the level of camaraderie within a team. Most players will put on a good public face for the sake of the club, even if there is internal strife within the dressing room. But time and time again players have been speaking about how much they're enjoying playing together and even amongst those who are on the fringes of the team or otherwise not getting the minutes they'd like to, there seems to be a commitment to the cause rather than scrambling to find an escape hatch. It's not exactly rocket science to suggest that happy football players are productive football players, but there seems to be an extra level of goodwill towards one another that I haven't witnessed, period, in my admittedly short time as a Liverpool fan. Long may it continue!

Honourable Mentions

The rehabilitation of Luis Suarez, the rise of Jon Flanagan, the complete love in for Mamadou Sakho, and/or Brendan Rodgers' man management.

What has been your biggest surprises for the season thus far?

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