The Reds approach Saturday's clash with Wigan having earned the same number of points as at this stage last season - but without any domestic cup successes to shout aboutDEBATE
Liverpool go into their 28th Premier League fixture of the season on Saturday on 39 points, just as they did at this juncture last season.
Back then, victory in the League Cup had already been secured whilst a run to an FA Cup final defeat at the hands of Chelsea remained on the cards.
This term, however, the Reds have been knocked out of both domestic cup competitions as well as the Europa League and are yet to prove that they can summon enough consistency to better last season's performances.
So, with that in mind, Goal.com asks whether Liverpool have in fact progressed at all under Brendan Rodgers...
|"Defensive errors have largely undone Rodgers' good work"
By David Lynch
On the face of things, it might seem difficult to argue that Liverpool have improved upon last season in any regard.
The Reds are already out of every cup competition and currently possess the exact same league points total they had accrued at this time last season under Kenny Dalglish. That, judging by the summer, is a sackable offence.
But there is, as always, a depth to the Merseyside club's current situation which cannot be quantified by such flippant comparison.
Fenway Sports Group made it clear when Brendan Rodgers was appointed that this was officially year zero of a lengthy project to return the club to the top. A young manager and young players were the order of the day, and that has led to numerous mistakes which should perhaps have been expected.
|12/1||Liverpool are 12/1 with BetVictor to finish in the Premier League top four
For that reason, Rodgers' side have come within a defensive slip of beating Manchester City twice this season and have been similarly undone by naivety at the back against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal.
This has undone the good work at the top end of the field, where the Northern Irishman has ensured that Luis Suarez can flourish despite the Uruguayan being the only senior striker on the books for almost half a season.
Of course, that particular problem has been well and truly solved by the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, a man who looks ready to prove a point following frustrating spells at Manchester City and Chelsea. Philippe Coutinho, meanwhile, also looks a promising attacking prospect brought in for a similarly sensible fee.
That these young, talented additions have been given time to acclimatise is arguably more important to next season than this, but Liverpool remain poised to improve on last year's seventh-placed finish and points total whilst also continuing to iron out the creases in their tactical set-up.
The Reds have also already surpassed last season's goals for tally of 47 (notching 49 this term) and, with a settled attack sure to be in place at the beginning of the next campaign, may be able to ensure their challenge for Champions League football is not immediately shot down.
Clearly, defensive recruitments remain a priority for the summer given the numerous recent failures in that area, but much of the uncertainty at the back should be cured by familiarity with the management and new training methods. That takes time.
For that reason Liverpool could end this season with no tangible signs of progress to boast about, but their start to the next campaign will serve as proof of the strength of the foundations laid now.
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|"Liverpool are over-dependent on Suarez & unreliable in defence"
By Alex Young
This really is a simple task of laying down the facts and letting them do the work.
Liverpool currently lie eighth in the Premier League table; last season after 27 games they were seventh. But that’s an easy examination.
How about when you compare Liverpool’s differing records in domestic cup competitions. The Reds reached both the League Cup and FA Cup finals last year, winning the former but losing the latter to claim their first piece of silverware since the 2006 FA Cup.
This season, however, Liverpool already find themselves out of both cup competitions, losing in the fourth round to Swansea in the Capital One Cup before being knocked out of the FA Cup by lower-league Oldham.
|IAN RUSH'S HARLEM SHAKE
|15/2||Liverpool are 15/2 with BetVictor to draw 1-1 with Wigan
Firstly, with a more talented squad, Rodgers is yet to taste success against any of last season’s top-six teams - who are presumably his rivals for such a finish this term.
It is undeniable that Luis Suarez has improved under Rodgers’ guidance, but how about the rest of the squad?
This season Suarez has scored 18 of Liverpool’s 45 league goals – 40 per cent – but last season the goals were spread more regularly across the whole squad, with the striker supplying just 27.5%, with eight players scoring more than two goals compared to this season’s total of seven.
It has been levelled at Liverpool this season that they have become almost a one-man team under Rodgers, with the Uruguayan overshadowing a squad failing to live up to their potential elsewhere. That more than hints at an over-reliance on an extremely talented individual, one whom Rodgers not only did not sign, but whose ability he is seemingly struggling to match with the rest of his failing squad.
And with Suarez thankfully taking care of the club’s attacking prowess, Rodgers has done little to improve the Reds’ troublesome defensive faults. Liverpool have already conceded 34 goals in 27 games this season – a record of 1.26 per game – whereas last term they boasted a more respectable 0.96, fewer than a goal a game.
So, in conclusion, it appears to me that Liverpool are now more dependent on one player, less reliable in defence and have actually retreated in their aim of securing a top-six finish this season. In no way is that a positive foot forward for their new manager.
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