By 90Min
June 03, 2019

Goodness me, that was incredible.

With banging heads being nursed, skin being pinched and bosses everywhere sceptically reading messages about sudden illnesses (and definitely not hangovers) preventing employees from coming to work on Monday, let's take a look back at the year that was for Liverpool.

Here's an evaluation of the Reds' finest season in recent (and not so recent) memory with an overall grade for the report card.


League Performance

Premier League - 2nd

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-ARSENAL

Pretty much perfect. Everyone saw that Jurgen Klopp's team had the potential to go up a gear or two after impressing in 2017/18, but closing a 25-point gap on Manchester City seemed like fantasy.

While the Reds fell just short of making the impossible a reality, it hardly felt like failure at all. 

Ultimately City's robotic brilliance, a Vincent Kompany wonder strike and the tightest of goalline decisions stopped Liverpool from lifting their first league title in 29 years, but really if you can't enjoy this season's achievements without a medal then maybe football isn't for you.

Liverpool registered their highest-ever Premier League points total (97) and third highest in the division's history, lost only one game all season (to the eventual champions) and took the title race to the final day. 

Mohamed Salah,Sadio Mane

On an individual level, Mohamed Salah retained his Golden Boot, sharing it with teammate Sadio Mane, while Alisson won the Golden Glove and Virgil van Dijk was named PFA Player of the Year.

With 30 wins out of 38, there were plenty of highlights, but the victories over Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham, in particular, stand out.

Only the most pernickety of observers would criticise Liverpool's domestic campaign, with draws against Leicester and West Ham the 'lowest' points in a season that demanded perfectionism.


Domestic Cup Performance


Carabao Cup - Third Round

Eden Hazard

The Carabao Cup has never been particularly high on Klopp's agenda, despite getting to the final in his first season as manager.

A second-string Liverpool were undone at home by Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea, with Eden Hazard taking centre stage way back in September.

The seemingly Madrid-bound Belgian scored one of his best goals in a Chelsea shirt to seal a 2-1 win at the death at Anfield, while the Blues went all the way to the final, gifting the world with Kepa-gate

No defeats are nice obviously, but this one was really more of a shrug, be grateful for less fixture congestion and move on.


FA Cup - Third Round

Ki-Jana Hoever

Liverpool fared no better in the FA Cup this season, going out to Wolves (for the second season in a row) at Molineux in the third round.

Amid injuries to a host of defensive players, 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever even got a run out for Liverpool as they lost 2-1, courtesy of goals from Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves.

The Reds have not gone further than the fourth round of the world's oldest cup competition under Klopp (last making the semis in 2015 and final in 2012) and you have to wonder if this is a tournament he will start taking more seriously next season.


Continental Cup Performance



Champions League - Winners

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Let's talk about six, baby. 12 months on from the heartbreak of Kiev, Liverpool are European champions!

If 2017/18's European run seemed a tad fortuitous, 2018/19's proved Liverpool are clearly now one of the continent's very best sides and deserved winners.

Klopp's side survived another group stage scare, losing all three away games to Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade, meaning they had to a rely on a 1-0 victory over the Italians (and the thigh of Alisson) on the final gameweek to qualify for the knockouts.

From there on, however, it was vintage European Liverpool, as Bayern Munich and Porto were bested before one of the all-time great Champions League comebacks (or Red-montada) against Barcelona.

A sea of Liverpool fans made it to Madrid for the final, hoping to avenge the ghosts of Kiev in the city of their conquerors.

Tottenham proved stern opponents, but Liverpool's experience and class shone through as they kept Spurs at arm's length after Salah's very early penalty.

It wasn't a pretty final, devoid of the big chances and huge controversy to entertain the neutrals, but Liverpool and Klopp will be delighted to take the perfectly boring victory after too many drama-heavy near misses in recent years.


Best Player

There are no shortage of contenders for this, with nearly everyone playing their best season to date.

Alisson has reset the standard (and price tag) for an elite keeper, while lung-busters Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are arguably the best full backs in the world right now. With a combined total of 28 assists this season, the pair laid on almost 25% of all Liverpool's goals in 2018/19.

Less heralded stars like Joel Matip, Gini Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi all shone when it mattered, while Jordan Henderson demonstrated that having a funny run doesn't mean that much really. Salah's 'difficult' season resulted in a second Golden Boot and a goal in the Champions League final.

However, if I have to single someone out... I won't. Instead, let's give it to both Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane.

Van Dijk's price tag raised eyebrows 18 months ago, but he is now truly the best on the planet in his position and often looks like a different species of superhuman when casually brushing off strikers.

To sum up his ridiculous imperiousness this season, no player has completed a dribble past Van Dijk in 64 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool. Mad.

Mane, meanwhile, has established himself as the Reds' key attacker and has added a ruthlessness to his finishing that has been lacking in previous seasons. His goal against Bayern and back-heel chip against Watford were joys to behold.


Worst Player

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

No-one really disgraced themselves, while it feels somewhat petty to pick negatives out of this season, but nits must be picked for the purpose of this report card and Daniel Sturridge was ultimately a bit of a disappointment after a bright start.

After his belter against Chelsea, it looked like Sturridge might even have played his way into an unlikely contract extension before he quickly disappeared again, with Origi becoming Klopp's go-to attacking sub and the redemption story of the year.

Naby Keita too will be expected to pick up his form next year, after a slow transition to English football.


The Manager

Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

As Henderson put it after the Champions League final, it would be 'impossible' to imagine Liverpool winning the Champions League without Klopp.

This team is made in the German's image and he really is an absolutely perfect fit for the club, with his high-press attacking football now backed up with defensive steel and (at last) a trophy.

There is talk of a new contract. Most of Liverpool right now would be happy for it to be a lifetime one.


Overall Grade

Can it be anything else?

A

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