By almost any measure, Liverpool have had a very strong start to the 2018-19 season in the Premier League. Just two points back of leaders Manchester City and holding the joint-best defensive record a third of the way through means they have a platform to push on.
But they aren’t where they want to be. Not yet; not quite. They can still improve, especially when it comes to their attack. And while their league record is hard to take issue with, they aren’t as well placed in Europe after their recent stumble against Red Star Belgrade.
“We can improve,” was manager Jürgen Klopp’s take on the matter. “We have to and we will. But between our best football and now, we have to win football games. That’s how it is and that’s what we’ve done already. There’s absolutely no reason for criticising the boys.”
It’s impossible to fully judge this Liverpool side just yet. Clearly, the results have been there even when they haven’t been at their best. Just as clearly, they have rarely been at their best so far this season considering the heights of last year and a largely unchanged squad.
If, as Klopp insists, they can improve and find their best form, then people will look back on an at times difficult start when they still got results in a positive light. Until they do improve and find their form, though, there’s always the chance things could go the wrong way.
Still, the foundations for a very, very good season are there. There in the table and even in Europe where despite their stumble they control their own destiny. And it’s there to in the improved defensive play, a once porous side having developed into a formidable one.
“So many things are better than last year,” Klopp added, and even if it hasn’t always felt it, it’s hard to argue with him on that. “Defending is better, set-pieces are better. We are much more mature in games, game management is better. So many things are better.
“A very intense period is coming up now. There has been a lot of improvement so far and there is still space for further improvement.”