Liverpool: The best and worst of the unlikeliest title challenge
Here are my three best and worst Liverpool players of the 2013/14 season, starting off with the three best.
1) Jordan Henderson– Not so long ago, the English youngster was deemed not good enough and a complete waste of money, but things have turned around for him since his absence due to the red card he picked up against Manchester City. Lucas Leiva replaced him in right midfield, but he just couldn’t give what Henderson had been supplying all season. That role in the midfield requires energy, creativity and strong pace, everything Henderson provides, and what Lucas didn’t making the Reds’ midfield less effective especially in the big loss against Chelsea. Henderson also has been key in helping his captain Steven Gerrard excel as the deep-lying playmaker. His energy and constant pressing gives Gerrard the room which he greatly benefits from. Henderson has certainly grown as a player in the last couple of months and I am sure he will take all that plaudits he has been receiving and bring it back onto the pitch next season.
2) Daniel Sturridge – One man stepped up to the plate to prove to Liverpool fans that they had nothing to worry about when their beloved Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was ruled out for 6 games at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, and that was Daniel Sturridge. He almost single-handedly carried Liverpool’s goal-scoring in the beginning of the season, and now with his striking partner Luis Suarez back, their relationship is only going to get better and better. Although Suarez has put in more goals than Sturridge has, the English star’s goals has acquired more points and were scored in crucial scenarios. Sturridge has also scored a higher proportion of his goals against his team’s direct rivals, giving him and his side the power they need. With or without Suarez, Sturridge may well end up going down in history as one of Liverpool’s greatest.
3) Luis Suarez – After receiving a 10 match ban for biting opponent Branislav Ivanovic, the Uruguayan international came back into the Premier League with a bang, scoring the most goals in the 2013/14 season. Suarez has picked up exactly where he left off last season, scoring crucial goals at Anfield and on the road. The Uruguayan has indeed made history this season. He scored his 31st premier league goal of the season against Crystal Palace, joining Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo who hold the record for scoring the most goals in a 38-game premier league season. His success on the pitch has won him not only the Football Writers’ Association player of the year award but also the PFA player of the year coming ahead of his teammate Steven Gerrard and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure. Like him or not, the biting incident is to be forgotten about and his continuous success this season should be recognised and praised.
1) Glen Johnson- Like Jordan Henderson the Englishman was doubted throughout the pre-season. He had something to prove and while during the first half of the season he was playing well defensively as well as moving up the pitch and creating space on the right hand side, sadly it was short lived. The second half of the season hasn’t been so pretty. While having some brilliant sparks in the attacking areas, his defence has been borderline atrocious. When losing the ball inside their own half, Johnson seems to become ghost. Wingers blow past him as if he isn’t there. While still a quality player Glen Johnson has been one of the biggest disappointments for Liverpool the 2013/2014 season.
2) Martin Skrtel- While the Slovakian international hasn’t had a terrible year he hasn’t been the most impressive. The centre back like Johnson has had games where he was the best player on the pitch and then had moments where he doesn’t look like an everyday centre back. The thing with Skrtel is his defence against set pieces; while not getting called often for holding and pulling his opponents on corners and free kicks, he wasn’t a force in the box like he should be. Just like Johnson and the rest of the Liverpool defence he seems to fade in the final fifteen. In the last five matches liverpool have conceded five goals in the final fifteen, three of those were against Crystal Palace.
3) Kolo Toure – While only appearing in 20 games this year, Kolo Toure has been one giant puzzle. He was supposed to be a strong substitute defender that could come in and help hold the lead but the Ivory Coast international has been anything but strong. His biggest and most famous mistake came against West Bromwich Albion when he sent an errant pass straight to West Brom’s Victor Anichebe for the equalising goal in the sixty-seventh minute. His blunder, while costly, isn’t the only reason he has been a disappointment this year. He seems like he has lost his touch at being the aggressive centre back he was ever since he left City.
In general the Liverpool defence has been been the real disappointment all year. It seem has if Liverpool while having a high paced attack with goal scorers such as Suarez, Sturridge, and Sterling have seemingly forgotten how to defend. Of the top four, Liverpool have conceded the most goals with forty-nine. Mamadou Sahko has also been quite disappointing, mentally he seems out of it when under pressure. There is a bright spot for the Liverpool defense though. Youngster Jon Flanagan has shown his maturity through the season being one of Liverpool’s biggest surprises, which will help out the Reds next season.