It’s fair to say that most Liverpool fans will be looking forward to seeing the back of this season.
After an energy-sapping quadruple chase last term, Jurgen Klopp’s team appears to have run out of steam and ideas as it languishes in eighth place in the Premier League and has been soundly eliminated from all three cup competitions.
Now 13 points off the top four, even Champions League football next season is looking like an increasingly unlikely prospect, as the team has gone winless in its three league matches – four in total, including defeat to Real Madrid – since that 7-0 drubbing of Manchester United.
In a league that has often been all too happy to sack managers at the first sign of trouble, it’s notable that Liverpool’s owners have so far kept faith and look likely to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
But after a Premier League record 12 sackings this season – Leicester City’s Brendan Rodgers and Graham Potter of Chelsea being the latest victims – even Klopp joked about his job being under threat.
“The elephant in the room is probably why am I still sitting here in this crazy world? Last man standing,” the German told reporters earlier in the week.
Despite this season’s struggles, however, you would be hard pressed to find a Liverpool supporter in favor of dismissing Klopp.
The 55-year-old has turned the club around in remarkable fashion since arriving eight years ago, taking the team from mid-table to the summit of English and European football.
It is precisely this success, obtained with a thrilling brand of football to boot, that has earned Klopp enough brownie points with fans and the club’s owners to be awarded time to fix the current situation.
But while his job is safe for now, even the most patient of owners have their limits.
It’s likely Liverpool will have to show some improvements between now and the end of the season to prove Klopp can coach the team out of this slump, something he was unable to do in his final months in charge of Borussia Dortmund.
Up next on this brutal stretch of fixtures is Arsenal, a team that been what Liverpool aspired to be in the league this season.
The Gunners’ success, achieved with an entertaining style of play, was something Klopp was quick to praise ahead of Sunday’s clash.
“Mikel is building this team for a few years now and obviously the outcome is pretty impressive,” Klopp told reporters on Friday, per LFC.com. “The way they play is fun to watch, to be honest, it’s super-lively, really good football, top players on the pitch, good match plans.
“It’s not exactly what you can say about us in the moment, so that shows you what the situation is. But at least for a while we can mention, again, it’s Anfield.
“So, we are at home and still have to show reaction after reaction after reaction – we have to – and improvement. That’s what we will absolutely try on Sunday.”
Klopp said building on the “good moments” Liverpool had recently enjoyed in games – even if they have been few and far between – will be key to earning a result, but will be easier said than done against an Arsenal team that has a first Premier League crown in 19 years in its sights.
However, Arsenal has struggled badly at Anfield in recent years, losing seven, drawing two and winning just one of its previous 10 matches in Liverpool’s back yard.
Arsenal’s last win at Anfield came in 2012, a game Arteta started, but the Gunners boss is confident his team has the ability to snap that poor run of form at Anfield.
“We’ve been to a few grounds this season where we haven’t won in 17, 18 and 22 years and we have managed to do that,” he told reporters, per Arsenal.com. “So we are capable of [winning at Anfield], that’s for sure.
“We really need to embrace the moment and go for it. The team is full of enthusiasm and positivity and we know that we have a big challenge, but I see a big opportunity to go to Anfield and do something that we haven’t done for many years. That’s what is driving the team in the last few days.
“It’s very, very difficult, so we know that, and the opportunity is ahead of us there on Sunday to do something that we have done in the last two or three years, to win in places that the team didn’t do for many, many years.”