Four matches into the new Premier League season and Liverpool just does not seem like the world-beaters they were last year. Last weekend on Oct. 4, the defending champions were thrashed 7-2 by Aston Villa, a club that barely avoided relegation last year. The Birmingham-based club just beat Liverpool by the biggest score differential a defending champion has lost by in the history of the sport.
To those thinking I am just picking on Liverpool for one performance, I have to say I am not. In the opening matchup of the season for Liverpool, they struggled with newly-promoted side Leeds United. It took a late penalty from forward Mohamed Salah for them to win that match 4-3. Last year’s Liverpool side gave up 33 goals in 38 games, while this year’s side has already given up 11 through four. They went from conceding fewer than one goal per contest last year to nearly three per contest this year. Yes, that is partly due to the heavy 7-2 loss––however, last year’s Liverpool team only allowed three or more goals three times all season, and only once to a team fighting relegation.
Sandwiched between those two uncharacteristic performances by Liverpool they do have two good results. They beat Chelsea 2-0 in the second fixture of the season, and Arsenal 3-1 in their third game. Both solid results, though the Chelsea win was helped by Andreas Christensen’s red card at the end of the first half. Both Liverpool goals came after Chelsea dropped to 10 men for the remainder of the game, but a win is still a win, and against a foe like Chelsea, you’ll take any you can get.
The 3-1 win against Arsenal was a classic Liverpool performance, where they outclassed Arsenal at every level. Liverpool did concede first, but roared back to score two goals before the first half ended. New signee forward Diogo Jota also got a goal on his debut in the late stages of the game.
So far through the first four matches, Liverpool has only looked dominant in one game. Liverpool is far from being bad, as they are still viewed as title contenders, but their defensive prowess and overall chemistry as a unit seem to be streakier than last season. This could also just be a small bump in the road, but a 7-2 loss to Aston Villa is alarming.
Looking around the league this year, the biggest threats to a Liverpool repeat seem to be Chelsea and Manchester City on paper. Manchester City recently addressed a need in signing Portuguese center back Rúben Dias, with some speculating whether a new-look defense might vault them ahead of Liverpool. As for Chelsea, a lack of depth at center back likely means they are still a year or two away from title contention, but the number of offensive weapons they have makes them a threat in a shootout. It is duly noted that they were tied and hanging with Liverpool in a tight game before they went down a man due to Christensen’s red card.
We also can’t forget current table leaders and cross-town rivals of Liverpool, Everton. The Toffees most likely will not win the title this year, as their talent level is just not up to snuff with the giants of the Premier League. Weirder things have happened though, like when Leicester City, another title outsider, shocked the world and won the title in the 2015-16 season.
In conclusion, when teams go to play Liverpool they should definitely respect them for all their great ability. However, teams should not be going into matches against Liverpool with a scheduled loss mentality. This Liverpool team is beatable if you catch them on the right day –– still amazing and uber-talented, but beatable nonetheless.