A strong opening month to the season was quickly followed up by a disappointing two-month stretch, with September and October seeing just about everything that could have gone wrong for Liverpool going wrong. Injuries, a misfiring attack, and the defence at its absolute worst added up to a long, unpleasant run.
Against smaller sides, Liverpool drew games they should have won, failing to put away their chances and conceding cheaply. Against top opposition, they lost—often quite badly. November, though, has seen the team trying to get back on track, and for the most part succeeding. Even if it hasn’t been a perfect month.
“We’ve made progress, 100%,” manager Jürgen Klopp insisted. “We’ve been more patient in specific games, and we feel in a really good way. We played Chelsea in a completely different manner and dominated. It’s fantastic, but we didn’t win—still I feel we are in a good way. This can be a decisive period of the season.”
It certainly will be. The question is in what way. Liverpool have a Champions League tie against Spartak Moscow next week and need a result to be certain of advancing after the disappointment of throwing away a three-goal lead and the first place finish a win would have ensured against Sevilla in their last outing.
They also play nine games in the league between tomorrow’s outing against Stoke and a January 1st date against Burnley. At the end of that stretch, 22 league games will have been played—nearly 60% of the season—and Liverpool will either be in the knockout rounds of the Champions League or relegated to the Europa.
Win most of those games, earning at least 22-25 points in the league and making it into the next round of the Champions League, and Liverpool will at least have built a platform for a successful season. There looks a real chance of that now, at least, which isn’t something that could be said in September and October.
There are still doubts, though; problems with this Liverpool side. Problems with consistency finishing, problems in defence, and concerns about closing out close games and making timely changes. They have, though, made progress. That much is true; that much seems inarguable. And Klopp, for his part, believes.
“I have faith in all the boys,” he added when asked about how the squad had responded to the disappointment of Saturday’s late Chelsea equaliser. “The showed me they are 100% ready in the sessions.”