2013-2014 : Liverpool’s Nightmare more than Gerrard Slip

The slip still has the power today, lingers and is still sung about by rival supporters. The Slip somehow still seems to matter, almost as much as it did back when it happened.

There are a few things that I think explain why:

Brendan Rodgers came to Liverpool in the summer of 2012 with a well-known system of 4-3-3 formation favoring quick and constant ball movement. Since then, Liverpool showed unfamiliarity with his new methods and thus got off to a slow start in the 2012-13 season and hence finished 7th and ended season on a bad note as Suarez was suspended for biting Ivanovic on his hands in 2-2 game between Chelsea and Liverpool.

Most Liverpool fans, probably including the Liverpool management and players would have taken 4th in the league at the start of the new season if it could’ve been offered to them at the start of the season, yet how do they stand for the next season?

The season after feeling the depths of despair the reds were back on the big stage with a team who were able to adjust with different formations according to the different possibilities with a well-known fondness for a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 systems favoring short passes and constant movement.

There was a major selection dilemma at the start of the season so as to adapt to the season well and to adjust the midfield in contrast to the double pivot system adapted by the Reds under Brendan Rodgers.

The question when the duo arrived was whether Brendan Rodgers, who’d ascribed to a 4-3-3 system at Swansea, could figure out a way to appease Daniel Sturridge, who fancied himself a striker and was available on the cheap because he did not want to play on the wing at Chelsea. And of course, Liverpool already had a striker in Luis Suarez. Meanwhile, there was the enigma of Coutinho, who had arrived at Inter Milan one of Brazil’s brightest young stars and then only seemed to regress the longer he was there.

Gerrard was moved backward in the double pivot so as to hold up the play and get more time on the ball.

Gerrard had contributed 3 goals and 6 assists in his 16 premier league appearances which suggests that he still has a big part to play at the club but was not in the plans going forward.

Liverpool got off to a flying start in the new season collecting 16 points out of 21 and Sturridge scoring 5 goals.

By the time Suarez was back on the field scoring 2 goals, as Suarez returned in brilliant form, Rodgers encountered a selection dilemma and eventually had to opt for a 3-5-2 to accommodate his free scoring strikers and also take the advantage of his strength in numbers in the central defense.

Right after when this system was sought to be Liverpool’s way forward, Daniel Sturridge got injured leading Rodgers to his favorite 4-3-3 setup with Sterling and Coutinho flanking Suarez.

This system favored Suarez as he went on a streak of scoring 11 goals in 6 appearances and leading Liverpool to the biggest away win of the season (0-5 against Tottenham Hotspurs)

But this system had many flaws as the defense remained exposed at the break, as both Lucas and Gerrard did not have the legs or the positional awareness to hold the midfield thus the central areas were badly exposed. Gerrard’s presence in the midfield allowed for a more varied approach but with more potential to be overwhelmed, while the recent Lucas-Allen-Henderson combination gave Liverpool a relentless image.

While on the other hand, Henderson who was judged on the basis of his hefty price tag had regained a newfound confidence, an invigorating swagger in his style. Would have been a good case if he would have been able to add the finishing touch and final ball to his game.

8th February 2014, Liverpool vs Arsenal, the game that could be called the turning point of the season as Liverpool straightaway went on to win 11 premier league games. As Liverpool had moved back to a 4-3-3 formation deploying Coutinho as a deep lying playmaker whose role was to charge forward.

Manchester City, on the other hand moved on top of the table after the game. 

With two weeks to go, Liverpool looked on course to win the championship before they had a loss and a draw in two of their final three games.

The loss, that came against the blues managed to win over a meagre 2-0 advantage. The game had left haunting imprints in the minds of the fans. The glimpse of the infamous slip against the blues, Steven Gerrard would probably be looking away.

There seems little doubt that had Liverpool beaten Chelsea they would have gone on to win the league. In those circumstances they would have afforded the 3-3 draw at the Selhurst Park eight days later and still finished top by a point.

It might still bring a visceral reaction, the slip, when we remember it. But the truth is that now, finally, it’s perhaps started to recede. We have started to think back on it a little less and to instead try to focus on the positives of those middle years of the Brendan Rodgers era. Because they existed too.

The team ended up in second place with 84 points.

Luis Suarez in the season was undoubtedly the best player of the season and thereafter won the PFA player of the year.

2013-2014 is remembered to be one of the most exhilarating seasons and since then, there has been no such real competition.

Manchester City cruised past West Ham to clinch the club’s second title in three seasons, so the drama was at a minimum. But, it was fun that season, especially when you compare it to the preceding season.

Though the premier league title was not in the destiny of the Red’s. We’ve seen a thrilling title race, a couple of great escapes at the bottom and even a decent battle for fourth place.

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