Despite a run of flat performances, Liverpool currently sit in a good position for a team that has undergone so many transitions in 2015/2016.
With all of their inconsistencies, to still be within eight points of the top four in the Premier League is an enormous accomplishment. When you consider that they are also still alive in all three of their cup competitions (FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Europa League), Liverpool should be quite proud of where they are.
Supporters though, are restless, constantly crying out for new players to help get Liverpool out of their current state of “mediocrity.” Ignoring the fact that a new manager in Jurgen Klopp has had to deal with a squad of players that don’t fit into his coaching philosophy, perhaps Liverpool are mediocre.
Regardless, here they sit, preparing to take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final in just under a month. The Capital One Cup certainly takes the back burner to the Premier League as well as the FA Cup, but this final can only mean good things for Liverpool.
Sterling: “This is why I came to City, to play in finals”.
Who’s gonna tell him? #lfc
— Jürgen Klopp (@AdamLovlallana) January 27, 2016
The Capital One Cup run Liverpool have embarked on has had its ups-and-downs, which only adds to the meaning of the possibility of a trophy. Narrowly defeating Carlisle United in penalties under Brendan Rodgers didn’t get it off to a great start. A solid defeat of Bournemouth then saw Jurgen Klopp win his first game in charge of Liverpool. A 6-1 dismantling of Southampton at St. Mary’s was one of the highlights of the season, but was followed up with a bittersweet victory over Stoke City that saw Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren limp off, adding to Liverpool’s injury list that has hampered them in 2016.
Finally, an ugly 1-0 loss that sent Liverpool and Stoke City to penalties on a 1-1 aggregate brought a sigh of relief when Simon Mignolet lunged for and kept out Marc Muniesa’s penalty, before Joe Allen capped off his great start to 2016 with the winner.
This campaign was a perfect representation of Liverpool’s season. Constant change, inconsistencies, and most importantly, injuries. Yet, they persevered. The Premier League is certainly out of reach. The Europa League could potentially see tough fixtures against Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham or Manchester United, making it a difficult trophy to win. The FA Cup has similar fixtures in comparison to the Capital One Cup, but West Ham away is a tricky fixture, as would be any other Premier League club Liverpool could face if they do advance.
With all the issues Liverpool have encountered, the chance to challenge for a trophy is a welcome sign of things to come. Other than the fabled title run of 2013/2014 and a horrible FA Cup semifinal loss to Aston Villa (led by Christian Benteke, ironically), Brendan Rodgers couldn’t get close enough to sniff a trophy in his three years in charge.
For Jurgen Klopp to win a trophy after just five months at the helm, would be a source of optimism, and an indication of greener pastures on Merseyside.
The “Klopp Era” may have started, ended, and restarted six or seven times now, with every eye-opening performance followed up by a bland one. The back-and-forth roller coaster of emotions for Liverpool supporters has been almost unbearable, and it can’t stay that way. Luckily for those supporters who have fought through it all this year, the possibility of a trophy looms.
Now, despite the fact that Liverpool cut Manchester City to pieces in November (one of the aforementioned beginnings of the “Klopp Era”), defeating the Citizens at Wembley is a tall order. Should Liverpool bring their best to London however, they can walk away with the Capital One Cup.
With the possibility of other silverware very much up in the air, winning the Capital One Cup is by far Liverpool’s best chance at a trophy, and their best chance at a winning mindset heading forward into the coming years under Jurgen Klopp. Better yet, an early trophy could have a positive impact this season. A winning feeling could lead to other competition pursuits, and maybe even land Liverpool a spot in the top four.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Liverpool would benefit from winning the Capital One Cup, but there’s more beyond their Wembley matchup with Manchester City. A victory on February 28th could be the springboard the Kop require to finally etch their name back with the big guns.