Liverpool are currently in top form and are in the best form in the whole of Europe. This should make Liverpool fans happy, right? Right? Wrong. While Liverpool have only dropped 4 points from a possible 21 in the last seven games Liverpool fans are remarkably unsatisfied. Liverpool currently sit at seventh in the pecking order. While the Liverpool faithful have a point in their frustration they could do well to see the silver living in the perceived dark grey cloud.
The obvious reason to be happy would be that Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool’s diminutive playmaker has signed a contract renewal on transfer deadline day tying him to the Merseyside club until 2020. Ensuring that a player like Coutinho stays at Liverpool is arguably more important than recruiting a new one. Coutinho has formed a wonderful partnership with Sterling and the pair seem to toy with defenders more for aimless enjoyment than an actual desire to score.
Liverpool’s recent upturn in form can be directly attributed to Coutinho. He has blossomed massively which prompted Brendan Rodgers to compare the Brazilian to Luis Suarez. When the controversial Uruguayan arrived on Merseyside he was a dangerous striker that could hurt you if he tried. After Brendan Rodgers spent two years with him Suarez would hurt you seemingly without trying. Philippe Coutinho seems to have gone under very similar transformation. Rodgers did, however, mention how he doesn’t think Coutinho will be as prolific but that is more due to a positional difference than a lack of quality on Coutinho’s behalf.
Many people, pundit and regular Joe alike questioned Rodger’s decision to allow Sterling a rest mid-season with the youngster sunning in Jamaica whilst his teammates ran things close at Sunderland only narrowly winning 1-0. Since his return he has been in blistering form and even scored the equalizers against both Chelsea and Bolton. Many seem to forget that he is only recently 20 years old and at is remarkable that he has for the second successive season reached double figures for the club in all competitions. Not bad for one only recently having celebrated his departure from adolescence.
Coutinho and Sterling are but two of the wealth of young aspiring stars currently being fielded for Liverpool on a regular occasion. Emre Can is the latest footballing machine that has been churned out by the mass producing factory that is Germany. Can is incredibly versatile and may well be the future, in tandem with Jordan Henderson, of Liverpool’s holding midfield. While Can is naturally a marauding midfielder he has really excelled in the right sided centre-back in a back three that Rodgers has had him deployed in for the last three months.
Mamadou Sakho has been for so long a potentially brilliant defender and at 24 years age can still be considered to be in his youth. The naturally left-footed centre back has often been labelled awkward and even calamitous at times but the nationalized Frenchman has a passing accuracy of 89%. Many could argue that majority of a centre back’s passes are either lateral or backwards that this is hardly a reliable statistic but while this is true 52% of Sakho’s passes are having been into attacking areas which rules that out. This is even more impressive when you take into consideration that your average defensive midfielder plays the ball forward 49% of the time.
Since Brendan Rodgers took over it has almost seemed to be his mission to remake the Liverpool team. Many of the older players have either departed from the club, retired or battled to compete with the influx of younger players which there seems to be an everlasting supply of. Liverpool’s average squad age for 2014/2015 is 25.8 years old. This demonstrates perfectly the sort of show that is being run by Brendan Rodgers at Anfield. Nobody will argue that Liverpool is still a work in progress and is a long way from being heralded as a finished product.
For many teams bringing in new players is essential to progress and maintaining a sense of balance but for the current Liverpool team it is more a case of hanging to players with such quality as Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho amongst others. If Liverpool are able to maintain the core of the team that is currently at the club it is difficult to see them anywhere other than knocking on the big door currently locked tight by Jose Mourinho, that being the top of the Premier League.
The Premier League last season was a fickle beast that wasn’t content to see a fairy-tale come true and it has been to the detriment of all those connected with Liverpool that this season has been a stark failure when compare the two campaigns side-by-side. The main cause of this has been the absence of the most menacing strike partnership that the Premier League has seen for many years. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. With Sturridge only just returning and Suarez sunning things up in Spain it is no surprise that Liverpool are sitting at seventh in the Premier League five points off the coveted top four spot. Liverpool have been boosted by the return of an out-and-out striker in Sturridge. Should the Englishman be able to deliver even a portion of what he provided last season then Liverpool will be in serious contention for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Steven Gerrard has been faded in and out of the side this season but while this may be seen as a massive loss it has allowed for the progressive integration of Jordan Henderson as the side’s captain. Many predict him to be next season’s captain as Gerrard has announced his departure form football with Liverpool and England on the whole having already retired internationally. His proposed move to LA Galaxy suits Liverpool just fine as the new generation rolls in. Henderson looks, everyday more and more the player to fill Gerrard’s enormous boots.
Taking into consideration the wealth of young exciting prospects at Liverpool’s disposal it is hard to imagine Liverpool being off the radar for much longer. Brendan Rodgers has shown his expertise at nurturing his young players and reaping the rewards after. Time will tell if he can continue his supposed line of trade and push his players to the limit and have them play in the way everyone knows they can and should. Just for a moment imagine. Imagine; Sturridge and Sterling in the form of theirs life with an imperiously magical Coutinho feeding them. Knowing that should you somehow manage to nick the ball that Henderson is hunting you down as if his life depends on it. Beware defenders. Beware.