It was a season to forget for Liverpool as they racked up their worst Premier League points total since 2016 and exited the three cup competitions with a whimper. The gruelling 63-game campaign that went before it took its toll on the players and a never-ending injury list certainly didn’t help matters, but failure to qualify for the Champions League will go down as a failure given recent standards. Finger-pointing and scapegoating are usually the names of the game when attempting to dissect such shortcomings, with various theories posited throughout the season by supporters. While a system tweak saw the Reds finish strongly, a number of facts and figures have highlighted just how much of a tough campaign it truly was for Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
Liverpool’s fortunes on the road put an end to any title hopes before they truly got going. 3-0 defeats away to both Wolves and Brighton were among the worst results of the Klopp era, with the 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest an equally dismal display. To emphasise the troubles, the neighbours across Stanley Park – who stared down the barrel of relegation for much of the season – suffered as many away defeats as the Reds. The blue brethren narrowly escaped the drop to the Championship on the final day having been beaten 11 times away from home in the league, the same number as Liverpool.
It will come as no surprise to anybody who watched Liverpool throughout 2022/23 that the first goal regularly went against Klopp’s side. The final figure, however, is quite staggering. Of Liverpool’s 52 games in all competitions, the opposition opened the scoring on 21 occasions (40.38%). For a side like Liverpool, going behind as often as that makes it impossible to compete with the standards set by Man City in recent seasons, a pace at which we have demonstrated the ability to match at our best.
Premier League points swings, from 21/22 to 22/23 seasons, show that only Chelsea have suffered a bigger negative points swing than Liverpool, with Klopp’s side amassing 25 points fewer than they achieved last time out. The general consensus among supporters appears to be that goalkeeper Alisson was Liverpool’s standout player of the season. While thoroughly deserving of such plaudits, the very fact Alisson has been relied upon so heavily underlines a number of the problems the Reds have faced. According to FBref, no goalkeeper in Europe ‘saved’ their side more than the Brazilian in 2022/23, saving his side 10.1 goals against the xG, highlighting both his extraordinary season and Liverpool’s defensive fragilities.
Despite ending the season with the worst home record in the league, Southampton found the net four times against Liverpool on the final day, meaning that 21% of their league goals at Saint Mary’s came against the Reds in an action-packed 4-4 draw. The game was effectively a dead rubber for both sides with their respective league positions already confirmed, but the sloppy defending will have given Klopp cause to be concerned.
For all of Liverpool’s recent failings, fitness issues have undoubtedly played their part in the troubles the side have faced. A remarkable 23 players missed at least one game through injury during the campaign, with longer-term absentees including Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Stefan Bajcetic, while players such as Thiago and Ibrahima Konate have been in and out of the side with various fitness issues. A total of 308 games were missed through injury throughout the course of the season, further highlighting just how busy the treatment table has been.
Liverpool’s ‘ball in play’ time per game was only bettered by Man City, per Opta stats. It means the Reds don’t waste time as much as the rest of the league. The average Newcastle match saw the ball in play for just 51 minutes, 5 seconds, compared to 56 minutes 41 seconds for Liverpool. To end on a more positive note, Liverpool managed to navigate the entire season without conceding a goal from a corner. The Reds were the only side in the league to achieve this feat, with StatsBomb providing a detailed look at their defensive structure throughout the campaign. The statistic does not take own goals or second balls into account but does offer encouraging signs that Liverpool’s organisation from set pieces has been difficult for opposition sides to overcome. It was certainly a season to forget for Liverpool but there are still plenty of positives to take away from it.