Before the season started, the expectation from just about everyone was that Manchester City will win the Premier League. And Liverpool were expected to be second best and finish second. But no one expected the title race to stretch this far. It wouldn’t have gone onto this climax if not for Liverpool going this far in it.
Perhaps, they would have been the Champions of England today if Manchester City weren’t so perfect. Finishing with as many as 97 points would hand a team a title at any other point in history. But the team; the perfect team City are, it is next to impossible to go past them in the marathon that the Premier League title is.
That is why Liverpool deserve massive credit for giving everyone such an entertaining season to watch in which both teams kept trading blows and refused to go down. It was like a fight or bout involving two world class boxers who refused to get knocked out despite the hardest of blows. And Liverpool were the less established boxer which was facing a one that is well established and feared.
It has required so much mental strength from a team that was mentally weak in pressure situations. In games away from home that required them to play in a pragmatic way, they stuck to the task and won games at will. Virgil van Dijk’s authoritative figure helped them stick together and his presence allowed them to attack without fear of being robbed on the counter attack by teams against who Liverpool would have been vulnerable to conceding before this season.
It wasn’t a season in which they always played breathtaking football like they did last season. There was a big element of graft in there- a one that every top team has to resort to when their own way isn’t working too well.
Mohamed Salah, despite being the Golden Boot winner, didn’t have the best of seasons. He didn’t turn up against the bigger and better sides and often struggled in other games too. While he is a victim of his own performances from last season, but Liverpool had Sadio Mane to rely on for goals. And they had little worries with Van Dijk keeping the goals in check and with Alisson in form, the demand on attackers was less than it would have been if there was no world-class defender at the back.
Many would classify this as a disappointment for Liverpool. And while they should be a little disappointed, they should be proud that they pushed perfection to its limits and were even the favorites to win till a point.
The only way forward for them is up. And frighteningly, they will surely improve by rectifying the depth issues and the issues about lack of goals from midfield. They’d also need another top CB who can form a world class partnership alongside Van Dijk so that they can rely on someone better than Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.
With the UEFA Champions League final coming up, Liverpool have every reason to chin up and put a cherry on the cake.