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Can Liverpool Still Contend?

It’s been a rough go thus far in the EPL campaign for a Liverpool side that was expected to be nearer the top of the tables, if not contending for a title. Liverpool now sits at 10th in the standings, with only 12 points amassed through eight matches (and a 3-3-2 record). But how bad is it really for the Reds?

Well, in late August former football manager Harry Redknapp called this the worst Liverpool team he’d seen in years, describing them as “bang average.” That came after the Reds earned a draw in London against Arsenal, which should have been looked at as a fairly strong result, and seemed somewhat dramatic at the time. This was still very early in the season, when Liverpool had seven points through its first three matches.

Unfortunately for Reds supporters, Redknapp’s criticism has since been proven accurate, at least in terms of the label of the team as average. Since the Arsenal draw, Liverpool has managed just five more points in five weeks, without having any particularly convincing moments along the way. On the season, the club has now allowed 10 goals and scored only eight. While their 3-1 loss to Man Utd. and 1-1 draw to Everton are perfectly understandable, a draw with Norwich and three-goal defeat at the hands of West Ham are not the work of an EPL contender.

In addition to mediocre performances to start the season, Liverpool is dealing with significant injury issues. With Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, and Joe Gomez already banged up, news recently broke that striker Danny Ings will miss the rest of the season after suffering a nasty knee injury during a training session. Benteke and Firmino may be back before long, but the Reds’ depth has taken a severe hit with Gomez and Ings out for the long-term.

There is some good news for Reds supporters, however, most notably in the recent hiring of manager Jurgen Klopp to replace Brendan Rogers. Klopp is an exciting addition, coming off a fairly sensational run with Borussia Dortmund and back from sabbatical earlier than expected. Furthermore, he appears energised to give it a go at Anfield, having stated his belief that the club can overcome the Ings injury. Klopp has publicly put his faith in Daniel Sturridge to carry the scoring load up top, and perhaps more intriguingly has also displayed clear confidence in Divock Origi, the young Belgian national who’s hardly seen the pitch yet this season.

Klopp is the kind of midseason hire that can generate real positivity in the system and among the fan base. Positivity may not win matches, but the truly good news for Liverpool could just be that there’s not that big a gap to close. It will be difficult to make up any ground whatsoever as depleted as this side is by injuries, but no one is dominating the league tables the way Chelsea was a year ago. Despite all that’s gone wrong, Liverpool is only six points back of Man City in first position, with a long way to go yet. Given that, there should be some optimism looking ahead.

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