The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - Week 19

Last updated : 05 January 2017
By Ben Green
 
What a week that was and what a year it's been? Retaining second place in the Premiership and taking another top scalp in the process. Nothing ugly about last week. The good, the not bad and not too shabby at the world's favorite football club. Liverpool FC. 

The Good

Firstly, season's greetings all and best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous 2017. Not only have the famous and notable been dropping like flies in 2016, so have the majority of Liverpool's opponents at Anfield.

Under the stewardship of Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool have managed to remain unbeaten at Anfield in the League for the best part of a year. The fact that the last game of said year was victory against Manchester City made the achievement all the sweeter. The noisy neighbours' noisy neighbours were sent packing following the 1-0 win on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola graciously acknowledged Klopp as the "best manager in the world for spectators". Who could argue with that? The German has been nothing short of sensational for the club since taking over from Brendan Rodgers in October 2015. The record at Anfield this year simply affirms the City manager's statement.

The Not Bad

Not bad is the fact that Liverpool have been able to sustain a genuine title challenge this season. Liverpool have only lost twice in the league this season so far and by my reckoning, this means they definitely have a chance. Over the last five years, the winning teams have lost on average around four games (4.4 to be exact for the anoraks), Chelsea and Leicester being the best over the last two seasons with three a piece. Other than that, five losses have been sufficient. Yesterday's opponents lost six in the 2013/14 season - the same as Liverpool who were second.

Despite criticism - largely unjustified - the team's goal difference at +25 is second only to Chelsea who have +29 and deservedly are the current leaders and consequent favourites. Still, that said, Liverpool have conceded the most goals of the top four (21), so perhaps there is fire beneath the smoke.

The Not Too Shabby

"New" Liverpool, without wholesale changes to personnel, akin to a BMW - simply refined, not often overhauled.  Saturday's starting 11 contained only Ragnar Klavan, Giorginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mané for changes to the team that Klopp inherited.

These players, representing the so-called "spine" of the team in a positional sense, show what a difference he has made. The vast improvement in the team's performances has been largely down to focus, preparation and tactics - perhaps the three things fans would have been critical of under Rodgers. As a result, Klopp's win rate (53.1%) is second only to Rafa Benitez (55.3) since the (Premier League) records began.

Along the way, we've seen some memorable performances - Arsenal in the first game of the season at the Emirates, Chelsea away a couple of games later and the dismantling of reigning champions Leicester in the first home game following the reopening of the Main Stand. The navigation of a very difficult start laid the foundations of the current situation.

All of the above have gone to make for a fantastic end to what overall, has been a pretty rubbish year for the world at large. In any case, for me and for many fans, football and particularly that of LIverpool FC have gone a long way to installing some cheer among the gloom.

Forward we go into 2017. On the front foot. Leading with the jab of a formidable attack and a tough but on occasion glass jaw of a defence. The stout six-pack of a midfield providing the stamina and energy - soaking up body shots. We as Liverpool fans have a lot to look forward to.

As I say every year, do your bit. Be honest, and try your best. No-one can ask anymore of you. LFC have done that in 2016 and should they continue to do so this year, you can't help but believe good times will come.

Peace and all the best in 2017. Stay safe, be lucky, laugh, live and love.

YNWA

 

Follow Ben on Twitter @MrBengreen

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