CaughtOffside 2012/13 Report: Liverpool – Season Review, Best Player, Worst Player & Grade

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A look back at Liverpool’s season in 2012/13.

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The first talking point of Liverpool’s summer was who would be their new manager. After parting company with club legend Kenny Dalglish following a disappointing season, the club were linked with a number of interesting candidates. In the end, the job went to Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers, who had worked wonders with the Welsh side in their first season in the Premier League and who showed a fondness for playing a more attractive brand of attacking football that the Anfield crowd were so desperate to see.

The club bid farwell to some familiar names in the summer transfer window, with cult hero Dirk Kuyt leaving for Fenerbache, Craig Bellamy joining Cardiff City, and Charlie Adam being sold to Stoke after a disappointing season for the Reds. It was thought that Rodgers would bring in some players from his old team Swansea, and sure enough Joe Allen was signed for £15million after proving a key member of the Swans’ impressive team in 2011/12. Fabio Borini was also brought in from Roma, and Oussama Assaidi from Heerenveen. The club also beat Arsenal to the loan signing of midfielder Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid.

However, Liverpool got off to pretty much the worst start possible, losing 3-0 to West Brom on the opening day of the Premier League season. To make things worse, the Baggies were being managed by Steve Clarke, who had been Dalglish’s assistant manager at Liverpool the season before. This poor opening was not on the script for Liverpool and their exciting new manager.

Some progress was made in the next game however, as they twice took the lead and were unfortunate to only draw with Manchester City in a 2-2 thriller. Sadly, they could not maintain that level of peformance as they were beaten comfortably by Arsenal at Anfield the following week, drawing attention to an embarrassing stat for Liverpool fans that Arsenal had won at Anfield more times in 2012 than Liverpool had!

Suarez Norwich City

Their slow start under Rodgers continued with a draw at Sunderland and another home defeat, this time to Manchester United. It wasn’t until the end of September in their sixth game that they registered their first league win of the campaign with a 5-2 victory against Norwich at Carrow Road. Luis Suarez hit a quality hat trick against the Canaries, as he had done on the same ground just a few months earlier towards the end of last season.

They could only follow that up with a draw against Stoke, but chalked up their second win of the season when they beat Reading 1-0 at Anfield, with promising youngster Raheem Sterling netting the winning goal. The 18-year-old was promoted to the first team this season by Rodgers and showed plenty of promise throughout the campaign.

The first Merseyside derby of the year was something of a disappointment, as they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with rivals Everton at Goodison Park, and just days later they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Rodgers’ old side Swansea, who toppled the holders with a 3-1 at Anfield and eventually went on to win the whole competition, no doubt owing much to the foundations laid by the Northern Irishman’s fine work at the Liberty Stadium.

They remained inconsistent during this period, and went on a run of just one win in nine games, though they did manage a good draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in this time. They followed that up with a strong end to the year with five wins out of seven, which included a 4-0 thrashing of Fulham at Anfield. They opened the new year with a 3-0 win over Sunderland, and also progressed past Mansfield in the FA Cup, in a game which saw new January signing Daniel Sturridge score his first goal for the club after moving from Chelsea. Sturridge proved a good signing by Rodgers, who also pulled off a masterstroke in the capture of Inter Milan youngster Coutinho.

It was from that point on that Liverpool truly started to play some exciting football under Rodgers’ influence. After crushing Norwich 5-0, they were the victims of a shock defeat to Oldham in the FA Cup, but followed that up with two impressive away draws with Manchester City and Arsenal, taking the lead on both occasions and looking deserving of more from both games. There was another blip in a 2-0 home defeat to West Brom, and they were unfortunate to exit the Europa League on away goals, but they followed that up with another 5-0 thrashing, this time of Swansea, and a resounding 4-0 away win at Wigan. Luis Suarez was on fire, and looking very much at home in Rodgers’ attack-minded team, enjoying his best season for the club so far.

Although the top four was now out of sight, they claimed an impressive win over Tottenham in March, and lost just once in their final ten games. There were slightly disappointing 0-0 draws with West Ham and Reading, but another well-earned draw with Chelsea in a game which will now be remembered for Luis Suarez’s infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic, and then one of the performances of the season in a thumping 6-0 away win against Newcastle.

Daniel Sturridge continued to show his promise, with a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Fulham, and fellow January signing Coutinho rounded off Liverpool’s season with the winner in the 1-0 victory over QPR on the final day, showing that there was plenty more to come from them next season.

That win against QPR also marked club legend Jamie Carragher’s final appearance for the club, as he had announced his retirement a few weeks prior.

Luis Suarez Liverpool Norwich City

Best player: Luis Suarez

Undoubtedly the jewel in Liverpool’s crown, the Uruguayan had his best season yet for the club, scoring 30 goals and dazzling the Anfield crowd with his skills. His displays have unsurprisingly attracted attention from many top clubs around Europe, but Rodgers will be determined to keep the £50million-valued striker.

Worst player: Joe Allen

It’s a close call between Allen, Borini and Sahin, but Rodgers’ summer signings were very disappointing. Sahin’s short spell with the club was bizarre as much as anything else, as he left to go on another loan from Real Madrid to Borussia Dortmund, but Allen is probably the most disappointing of all given his price tag and the expectation that came with it. Called ‘the Welsh Xavi’ by Rodgers, he looked far from it for Liverpool and exerted very little influence on the team.

Final grade: C

Seventh place is not great for a club of their size, but in what was always going to be a transitional year for the club, it was just important for Brendan Rodgers to be given time. The second half of the season showed that he is starting to mould the team to his liking, with some fantastic performances, and just a lack of consistency holding Liverpool back. Defensive reinforcements are needed, but there’s plenty of reason to think next season could be better.

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