We left off at the turn of the new calendar year sitting in 2nd place, 5 points behind league leaders Arsenal but 10 points above the non-Champions league places. The momentum was with us as we looked to finish in the top four, but with 18 games remaining we knew there was still plenty of points to play for.
However, with the January transfer window having just started I was looking to make moves in a bid to bolster our top four chances. My only incoming signing was Argentinian playmaker Ángel Correa who joined from Atlético Madrid for a massive fee of £17.5m.
While Liverpool and Klopp sometimes take stick from fans for signing so many attacking players, I identified our AMC(L) position as an area that lacked depth, especially with Coutinho operating out on the left-wing. Roberto Firmino himself can’t do the job alone and so Correa has been brought in to add quality in depth for the second half of the season.
In regards to outgoing business, long-term Liverpool servant Lucas Leiva was sold to Al-Arabi after voicing his displeasure at the lack of first team opportunities. With Nemanja Radoja and Emre Can, I told Lucas that there was simply no choice of him getting consistent first-team minutes and as a result he moves on for a fee of £9.25m.
Elsewhere, Joe Gomez joins Scottish Champions Celtic on a loan-deal until the end of the season in an attempt to gain more first-team experience.
The second half of the season picked up where the first half left-off as we notched up 5 victories in our first 6 matches of the calendar year before picking up an astonishing 6-4 defeat away at White Hart Lane. Form stuttered for a little while afterwards with defeats against Arsenal (FA Cup), Sunderland, Everton and Manchester City as well as some big victories against the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal before rounding off the season with a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea. We finished the first season unbeaten at Anfield, scoring 44 times and conceding only 8 in our 19 matches at home.
We did it! Despite suffering the most defeats in the top 4, we managed to amass a total of 83 points which was enough to see us finish in second place, Liverpool’s best finish since THAT season. Arsenal managed to stay strong for the entirety of the season and ended up taking the title back to North London while Manchester United and Tottenham rounded off the top four. Manchester City and Chelsea took the Europa League spots while the other end of the table saw Middlesrough, West Bromwich Albion and former champions Leicester City drop down to the Championship.
In terms of the table I’m delighted, we fell short of the title but we exceeded both mine and the media’s predictions and will be bringing Champions League football back to Anfield for the 2017/18 campaign.
Throughout the season I managed to rotate the squad on a regular basis with every player getting their fair share of deserved play time. This ranged from Roberto Firmino getting 3,152 to Ben Woodburn who only managed 284 minutes of first-team football.
In terms of goalscoring, Roberto Firmino led the line with 18 goals in 37 starts with Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho following with 13 and 12 goals respectively. Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson shared the spoils in terms of assists with both players setting up goals 11 times, Coutinho once again coming third with 7 assists. Summer signing Marvin Plattenhardt was awarded ‘Player of the Match’ on the most occasions with the German being giving the honour 5 times, he also headed the BPL for average rating with a score of 7.48, a fantastic introductory season for the full-back who also found the net 7 times from dead-ball situations.
In terms of youth we’ve had a good season. Joe Gomez had a slow start but excelled at Celtic while Marko Grujic had a varying season in the Championship but managed plenty of game time. Ben Woodburn is beginning to develop nicely while Trent Alexander-Arnold is making much slower progress, but there’s still time to improve. Sheyi Ojo and Lazar Markovic have given me plenty to think about after their successful loans away at Brentford and Hull City respectively.
End of Season Awards
Simon Mignolet picked up 3rd in terms of clean sheets while Nathaniel Clyne and Marvin Plattenhardt made the BPL Team of the Year, goes to show how good our defence was!
We kept the 4-2-3-1 variant for the entirety of the season, although it comes as a surprise that the fans picked Wijnaldum over Emre Can with Origi pipping Sturridge to the best in terms of the #9 spot.
Overall the 2016/17 season was an overly successful season for us and hopefully will give us a nice platform to build on for years to come. A transfer kitty of £80m has been set aside for us meaning I’m going to be scouring the player lists for hours on end in an attempt to find the ‘right’ players for us going forwards. Next year will hopefully prove to be a better year for us in regards to Cup competitions.
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