As Liverpool enter this January top of the league and building towards something bigger, we’re reminded of the difference a year makes…


A NEW Year and a salute to shedding old skin.

Letting unhelpful behaviours disappear with the daylight of our incessant winters.

Seriously, fair play to anyone who sets goals of self-improvement on this of all months. For many, myself included, it’s simply about navigating days. Of clinging to warmth and taking whatever daylight we can from simplest pleasures.

The years go quicker with age, but in Liverpool years can last a lifetime. So much happened to this team over the course of 12 months that rewinding to January 5th, 2023, feels sobering.

Liverpool had just been rolled 3-1 at Brentford. A classic tale of a side being numbed into submission by a very competent yet inferior Premier League opponent.

They were two days off drawing 2-2 with Wolves – who they played every third week around this time – and nine days off being done 3-0 at Brighton in what was arguably their worst performance of the season.

There is loads that’s unique about having managerial stability. Seasons can morph and sometimes can only truly be defined by trophies won. If turmoil is the strategy of choice, as it is for most clubs, calendar years can become a smorgasbord of revolving managers, players and relenting tumult.

Last January was one of the worst under Jürgen Klopp. His team were lethargic, toilsome and so predictable. We can think Liverpool have evolved in the form of personnel to drive such a turnaround, but nine of the current squad started that day in Brentford. Only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho have now departed.

Interestingly, when comparing both last season and this statistically, Liverpool’s attacking numbers are eerily similar. The xG for each had them in 95th and 96th percentiles (1.88 and 1.87 per game). Shots per game were in the 97th and 99th percentile (17.35 and 18.90) and counter attacking shots 99th and 96th percentile (1.88 and 1.65).

It is defensively where the big changes have occurred. At this point last season, Liverpool were in the 10th percentile for clear shots conceded with an average of 2.94 per game. They currently sit in the 70th percentile on 1.95. Last season had them also in the 40th percentile for overall xG conceded (1.25 per game) with this season up to 73 per cent with a value of 1.02.

There is still room for improvement on the eye and in the numbers. In many ways, this is the beauty of this team. It’s a side still displaying some signs of growing pains yet delivering incredible football and even better entertainment.

They have registered 129 shots in their last five games in all competitions. They’ve just dismantled a supposed Champions League side and sit top of the Premier League table, 14 and 16 points ahead of the two clubs which finished third and fourth ahead of them last season.

And yet, we simultaneously seem to want more from them. More clarity about who they are and where they’re going. They are still, to some extent, the Kevin Finnerty to our Tony Soprano. They are not without sin, but they should be more flawed at this stage. They should still reek of Brentford away in some form.

They don’t. Because once again him and them have yielded some formula which churns and rides and eventually, like against Newcastle, cuts loose.

Things are once again at play for Liverpool. January darkness is no longer being compounded by endless trips to Wolverhampton or heartbreak on the Brighton coast.

Liverpool have come an incredibly long way in 12 months. Once again, the light can be seen.


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