Dark Horse Chronicles – Liverpool

This series will feature a club each week starting from this week that looks poised to shake things up a bit. This week we’ll talk about Liverpool (currently with 14/5 odds to win the league). Now, before you get all up on me about them being the topic of this “darkhorse” series — hear me out. They haven’t finished top of the division since the creation of the Premier League, so despite them having some phenomenal talents and insane expenditures, I feel comfortable calling them a darkhorse. This doesn’t take into account their stature or involvement in other competitions, because those affect their competitiveness in the Premier League. They are also well below the “surefire favorites” in Manchester City who are 4/6 odds on winning the League.
Since the inception of the league, founding-member Liverpool’s average position has been just under 5th, however, they have recorded no Premier League Championships. Instead, Liverpool have stood by the wayside while a number of their fiercest rivals have dominated the top spot including Manchester United (13 times), Chelsea (5 times), Arsenal and Manchester City (3 times each), and Blackburn and Leicester City (once each) rounding out the League Championships. Liverpool may well be one of the best sides to have never won the Premier League along with fellow “Big Six” member Tottenham Hotspur. Don’t get me wrong. Liverpool has been crazy successful, just not in the Premier League era; they’ve spent a combined 104 seasons in the top flight with 18 titles and an average finish during that time of 6.5 (For comparison, Manchester United has 94 seasons in the top flight, 20 titles, and an average finish of 6.6).
No all you Liverpool fans, I’m not just bringing it up to rub it in, but I think it could be different this year…
Why you ask?
We discussed earlier in the Liverpool Transfer Review we talked about Liverpool’s world record (at the time — that record would only last two weeks) acquisition of Alisson from AS Roma. So far, Liverpool have only conceded one goal this season, if you compare that to last season’s three goals allowed in the opening game against Watford, clearly there’s an improvement. By this point last year, Liverpool had already shipped 8 goals (albeit 5 to City) and they went on to finish 4th in the League. Clearly, it’s a bit early to predict who will be on top when the curtains fall, but I do think it’s safe to say that Alisson has come right into the side to do exactly what was expected of him. And it also solidifies a position that has been seriously lacking by having a clear number one — that is actually keeping goals out.
In addition to their phenomenal goals against, they have kept up their rampant scoring bringing their goal differential (scored minus conceded) to +8, which is tied for the highest in the league. The only other team with a differential that high is defending champions Manchester City and a huge portion of that came from their 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town — so take it for what you want.
These next 4 games (3 PL and 1 Champions League) will give us our first major opportunity to see this side put to the test. In the Premier League they will play away games at Tottenham (5th) and Chelsea (2nd) sandwiched between a home match against the underwhelming side from Southampton (12th). In addition to this premier league stretch they have a short turnaround (3 days) from the Tottenham match to play the absolutely loaded Paris St. Germain side in UCL competition, followed by yet another short turnaround (3 more days). This will give us our first glimpse of a Liverpool side that is forced to make some rotations to allow some players rest because of the demands of the Premier League player and International player. If this team can come through this barrage relatively unscathed — say averaging a point a game — I think they have a great shot at positioning themselves well for the season. Anything better and it might be the beginnings of a title-winning season for the Reds. Come on you Reds show us your stuff!
Stay tuned for the next edition…
Last Updated: September 10, 2018
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