Do Liverpool need to be more ruthless to win silverware?

James Milner Liverpool Tactical Analysis Analysis Statistics

It’s safe to say that it’s been an exhilarating season in the perspective of Liverpool and the millions of fans watching around the world. Full of twist and turns, white-knuckle football at its best with no certainty about the result as each game passes, typical Liverpool really.

I could end it there, but this roller-coaster ride of emotions, with many slices of good fortune, could come back to haunt Jürgen Klopp’s side if they aren’t careful. There are fine margins between success and failure in England’s highest footballing division, but at the same time are world’s apart in terms of emotion and feeling for the people around them. First place, sheer jubilation. Second place, undeniable frustration. Liverpool have been there on three different occasions under three different managers and are yet to get the job done.

The game against Southampton confirmed something that the Reds have been lacking in recent years, their squad depth is actually good enough to win games of football. Over the years, Liverpool have been fairly short in their matchday squad. We go back to Liverpool against Burnley, 12 March 2017. Compare the two benches in that game in respect of attacking prowess, Burnley had the stronger options to choose from. Liverpool only had a young Harry Wilson and Ben Woodburn to select, whereas the Lancashire-based outfit had the likes of Robbie Brady and Sam Vokes. It may seem a little unfair to compare the two sets of players but the gulf in quality at the time was enormous and alarm bells were ringing for Jurgen Klopp.

I talk about squad depth because there is the characteristic of sheer ruthlessness in this Liverpool side which is severely lacking from last season. However, it was more than a case of just scoring more goals than your opponent as their defence was so suspect. Virgil van Dijk has annihilated any doubts about any lapses at the back, which should allow Liverpool the attacking and creative freedom to go and attack teams in a ruthless manner before their luck runs out this season.

Liverpool average 2.3 goals per game, according to WhoScored. This isn’t exactly a negative statistic by any means, but obvious comparisons have to be made to last season where Liverpool were ruthless beyond comprehension or were they?

Opta have recorded conversion rates for Liverpool from the whole of the 2017/18 season and during the current campaign. The Reds had an 18.2% rate last season, and up to now they have 20.2% of chances that turns to goals. So they aren’t creating as many chances but in fact putting away more of the opportunities that come to them. Upon this rather surprising statistic, this now becomes very subjective. From a unanimous perspective, the football isn’t as easy on the eye or as nurturing for the stress levels compared to last season, however Liverpool are equally as attacking and just as clinical, but with a backline which is a remarkable improvement. As a result, it sees the Reds challenging at the top of the table with the likes of Manchester City.

Maybe we as football fans are being a little fickle when it comes to looking at the way the Reds are playing and rather judgmental. Liverpool have won games by a single goal on nine different occasions this season but have also comprehensively beaten sides too and have managed to score 75 goals so far in the Premier League with five games still to play.

So, is there still an argument about Liverpool requiring further cutting edge in order to be successful and win trophies this season? Well, the evidence is there and clearly, the answer to that question is no. The “one-season wonder” Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have scored 47 goals between them, which is well over half of the total goals scored by Liverpool. Liverpool simply aren’t letting up this season and are sure to be fighting for this league title until the very end.

There will be one loser, inevitably the side that finishes 2nd between Liverpool and Manchester City will have over 90 points and not win the Premier League, which is extraordinary considering Manchester United won the title with just 75 points back in 1997. As fans, we are using our own sanity to put forward this argument, as the Reds always do it the hard way. Always.