The 2021-22 Premier League season saw Liverpool come agonisingly close to glory. The Reds took their title challenge all the way to the final day of the season, but in the end Manchester City had too much over the course of 38 games, finishing one point above the Reds. Liverpool were 13 points adrift halfway through the season, and their momentum to recover from that position made them look nigh on unstoppable. It seemed such a forgone conclusion that they’d go on to take top spot, causing many fans to bet on football as a result, but it wasn’t to be.
It’s testament to the quality of this Liverpool side that they managed to rack up 92 points, with such a high total being more than enough to win the league during most seasons in the competition’s history, but that’s scant consolation for fans of the Merseyside club.
92 not enough
Liverpool managed an almost perfect season, with only two league defeats across the whole campaign. One of those was a 3-2 loss to West Ham in November, and the other was a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City at the end of December. That’s one loss fewer than Man City, but Liverpool saw too many games end in a stalemate.
Liverpool drew every game against the rest of the top four, with 2-2 draws in both games against Man City holding them back, while they also failed to pick up three points against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. However, it will likely be the dropped points against Brentford and Brighton that the Reds will end up rueing, having drawn against both clubs. The truth is that the competition between Liverpool and Man City is so tight, even a single dropped point can make all the difference.
Slow start, strong finish
Of Liverpool’s eight draws, four came in the first 10 games, with one of their two losses coming in their 11th match. The Reds picked up form again, before dropping points around the turn of the year, with their loss to Leicester bookended by draws against Tottenham and Chelsea.
The Leicester defeat came at the end of December. After that loss, Liverpool managed to go the remaining 18 games of the season unbeaten. They took maximum points from almost all of those games, only failing to win in their draws away to Man City, and at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
Man City came into the second half of the season 13 points clear of Liverpool, who had two games in hand, and the Anfield side went on a 10 game winning run, closing that gap to a point ahead of their meeting in the league. However, after a 2-2 draw in that game, the Merseyside outfit were unable to rack up enough points to overhaul Guardiola’s team before the end of the season.
Key players emerge
Two key reasons for Liverpool’s impressive finish to the campaign were the signing of Luis Díaz, and the availability of Thiago. Díaz was signed from Porto in January, and the Colombian fit into Klopp’s side right from the off. His energy, directness, and unpredictability in attack have made him a real threat for Liverpool, while his work rate and aggression off the ball mean he’s had no problems providing the off-ball work that Klopp demands.
In his first half-season of Premier League football, Díaz contributed four goals and three assists, and you get the sense that there’s more to come from the Colombian. With Roberto Firmino being phased out of Liverpool’s starting line-up, the Brazilian having only started 10 league games, Díaz has added another dangerous option to a forward line undergoing a rebuild.
Meanwhile, Thiago finished the season in excellent form, reinforcing his status as one of the best midfielders in Europe. The Spanish international is a standout player for Liverpool, offering something that none of their other options can provide, with his range of passing and security on the ball. However, fitness problems have plagued Thiago in the past, and that continued to be the case this season, with the midfielder only starting 17 of 38 league games.
His absence often proved significant for Liverpool. He missed five games with a calf injury early in the season, three of which Liverpool drew. He missed another five league matches around the turn of the year, only two of which his team won. Of the 10 league games where Liverpool dropped points, six of them came during Thiago’s two absences in the first half of the season, and Klopp will be hoping the midfielder is available on a more consistent basis next year.