An overview of Liverpool's 2023-24 Season

  • It was an up and down season with more highs than lows. .
  • A trophy was won and Champions League play is coming back. 
  • Several youngsters stepped up to make the future look bright.

Last year, Liverpool was ruled out for UCL Champions League eligibility despite finishing with three victories in the last five games. The team trailed Newcastle by four points, who then took the fourth spot for the top continental tournament. Perspectives about Jurgen Klopp’s dynasty gradually switched to its downfall.

However, Klopp left his legacy in his farewell season as a manager. Other than winning the EFL Cup and discovering some new talents, the team, bearing the injurious ladder mostly and other forms of instability, eventually confirmed its return to the Champions League after one season’s absence.  

As the tenure of the 56-year German came to an end, let’s wind down Liverpool's 2023-24 season with several aspects. 

Lead-Off Highs

Despite a series of injuries, Liverpool climbed to the top of the table for months. Before wrapping up the year 2023, the team only swallowed one tough loss against Tottenham in September.

Although the relative fragility on defense was long-term blame, we surprisingly found out that Liverpool had the fewest goals conceded in the first half.

As the team lost key midfield pieces like former captain Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool found its at-best coverages within a limited budget, acquiring Alex Mac Allister, Endo Wataru, Ryan Gravenberch and Dominik Szoboszlai.

Since Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago’s misses in the first half of the season, Klopp additionally utilized Liverpool’s deep reserves like Bobby Clark and Curtis Jones for more replenishment. 

Midfielders are the key part of Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation and tactical mindset, emphasizing on swifter transition from defense to offense and aggressive attacks further.

Thus, players in the middle are playing the role of facilitator for more counterattacks. With Mac Allister’s tremendous goal contributions and Wataru’s solid defense and ball handling, the new midfield seemed to work something out.

Liverpool's most outstanding aspect that other teams didn’t show so much this season was that its young players were able to step out and fit in.

Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final
Chelsea v Liverpool - Carabao Cup Final / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

We’ve witnessed a career best outing for Bradley against Chelsea at the end of January, who scored once and assisted two as a defender; We’ve also seen Caoimhin Kelleher stepping up to cover Allison’s absence, who rescued the team with a 9-save clean sheet. Jayden Danns, Clark, James McConnell…and more to come.

Amidst the injury wave, young players not only helped those senior players earn more time to rest but also retained Liverpool’s dominance.

At least most Kopites were optimistic about Liverpool’s quadruple-run ambition when the team won its first trophy of the season, especially when they saw some youngsters enjoying their first-ever senior achievement with other well-known stalwarts on the podium.

The Late Stumble

However, the dream collapsed later in the season. If you believe Liverpool’s 1:3 loss to Arsenal in February is not a big deal, what about the 3:4 one to its rival Manchester United in the FA Cup?

Having not been healed from the tournament, Liverpool turned to April, the worst period of the season. The team previously failed to seek revenge against Man United (2:2) when returning to league play, then got eliminated by Atalanta in the Europa League which placed fifth in the Serie A. 

Not only losing the chance to dominate continentally, Liverpool was eventually thrown off by Arsenal and Man City in the title race domestically after it was stunned by Crystal Palace and Everton, which are the teams that Liverpool is supposed to defeat.

The destiny flipped to its ending page earlier for Liverpool though the season was not over yet.

Although the offensive aggressiveness can somehow cover up its embarrassment on defense in the first half of the season, Liverpool's most-criticized weakness was eventually exposed while endeavoring for three more trophies.  

In Klopp’s system, the formation focuses more towards the front. Thus, the defense has to participate in pressing for the ball, leaving a wider space in the back.

However, it wasn't working effectively anymore this season as many teams have figured out their form.

Once the opponents find a way to cut down Liverpool’s passing path, they can drill a counterattack at ease; Once Liverpool approaches the net, they will permeate the box to narrow the space. 

He has been directly involved in goals in 50% of the matches he's played, scoring 4 goals and providing 11 assists in all competitions. Besides the attacking aspect, Elliot showed his all-around versatility this season, registering a 61% tackle success rate.

With tons of senior experience, he can not only be elevated as a backbone of the club but also a rising star for the England National Team.

The team is in need of rebuilding its chemistry between forwards as they were seen disconnected in some absolutely advantageous counterattacks.

Despite having five forwards (Luis Diaz, Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo) in the squad who had tallied more than ten goals this season, their combined execution wasn’t as impressive as the period when the team only had Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane with Salah.

Star to Watch: Harvey Elliott

Even though Elliott just celebrated his 21st birthday in April, it’s fair to say that he’s not a youngster anymore in the squad since he has shined on the pitch last season, tallying five goals and two assists coming off the bench.

In more than 2700 minutes he played, Elliott significantly promoted Liverpool’s offensive side as an attacking midfielder this season.

He has been directly involved in goals in 50% of the matches he's played, scoring 4 goals and providing 11 assists in all competitions. Besides the attacking aspect, Elliot showed his all-around versatility this season, registering a 61% tackle success rate.

With tons of senior experience, he can not only be elevated as a backbone of the club but also a rising star for the England National Team.

What’s Next?

As we’ve observed, Jurgen Klopp has promoted plenty of youngsters to senior matches to handle the injuries this season, it’s reasonable to believe that Liverpool will excavate more gems from its Academy.

Historically, the academy has produced exceptional players, such as Steven Gerrard and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Currently, the club's focus on promoting Academy players like Conor Bradley, Curtis Jones, and others to the first team underscores its commitment to youth development.

With the return to the Champions League, these young talents will have the opportunity to participate in the top tournament in Europe, providing them with invaluable experience.

What if Liverpool decides to remain as a European powerhouse after returning to the Champions League, the team should also start focusing on some stalwarts’ contracts that would expire soon.

Apparently, Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, and Alexander-Arnold are those names on the table (their contract will expire in 2025), who brought glory to Liverpool’s history through their massive contributions to the 2019 Champions League title.

Considering Alexander-Arnold’s clinical passing and his role as offensive facilitator, the decision to keep the 26-year Liverpool local would be wise. But resigning Salah and van Dijk seems to be more risky as they both are no longer in their prime level.

As Arne Slot takes the helm of Liverpool, the team will have to go over a big transition from Klopp’s system to the incoming Dutch manager who would emphasize different aspects of tactics and players.

But the future scene would be optimistic as his tenure may focus on integrating young talent into the first team while retaining experienced players to provide a balanced squad. Thus, Liverpool’s current style of play and strategic decisions are likely to evolve under Slot's management. 

Lastly, the team would need to deeply dive into the transfer market this summer. Following the exits of Joel Matip and Thiago, there's an urgency to reinforce the midfield and the back.

Also, Liverpool can take a glance at its frontline when the team wants to add a striker to bolster the offense. Importantly, all decisions should be based on Slot’s preference and tactical mindset.

With that being said, though Liverpool eventually failed to rally for the Premier League title for Klopp’s last dance, the team is actively seeking ways to regain its strength, leaving hopes to peak.