Biggest Missed Opportunities for Liverpool This Season

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

Biggest Missed Opportunities for Liverpool This Season

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    As they sit second in the Premier League table and and "in the conversation" about a potential title challenge according to their manager in an interview with the BBC, Liverpool will be feeling pretty good about themselves at the moment.

    Football is all about the "what ifs" though, and while dropping points in the game is an inevitability―even Arsenal's "Invincibiles" drew 13 of their famous 49 games―you often can't help but wonder just what might have been.

    The Reds might feel as though they could be doing even better during a league campaign that is already so much more promising than those in recent years, but where have they let themselves down?

    Here we pinpoint five matches that, had they seen things go slightly differently, might just have put Liverpool to the top of the table at the moment instead of Arsenal.  

The Southampton Defeat

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    Liverpool 0-1 Southampton, September 21

    This remains the only home match in which Liverpool have dropped points this season, with the 1-0 defeat in late September also standing as the only Anfield match in which the Reds failed to score.

    Credit has to go for Southampton for the victory achieved thanks to a Dejan Lovren header and a terrific performance, but Liverpool certainly didn't help themselves on an afternoon where everyone, from the manager to his players, appeared to get things wrong.

    Brendan Rodgers chose to set up with a back four comprising four natural central defenders in Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho, and the odd move only contrived to help make his team weak going forward, in what was the last match that they were going to be without the banned Luis Suarez.

    The likes of Iago Aspas, Victor Moses and Raheem Sterling all struggled to support Daniel Sturridge up front. The Reds were left cursing the lack of a penalty award when Sturridge was tripped in the first half, but they were beaten by the better side.

Not Breaking Down Newcastle's 10 Men

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    Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool, October 19

    The Reds fell behind to a fine goal from Yohan Cabaye against unfancied Newcastle at St. James' Park in October, but plenty felt that the tide was going to turn when Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa hauled down Luis Suarez in the penalty area and was duly sent off just before half-time.

    Steven Gerrard fired home the resultant spot kick for his 100th Premier League goal, but that didn't ensure that the floodgates would open for the 11 men in the second half.

    Indeed, unheralded young Magpies sub Paul Dummett put his side ahead just after the break with a first senior goal, leading to an afternoon of frustration for the Reds.

    Ultimately they grabbed an equaliser when Suarez's cross was headed in by Daniel Sturridge from close range, but the visitors couldn't force a winner despite their one man advantage, and the feeling of two points dropped was a very real one at full-time, especially seeing as Liverpool had won this fixture 6-0 only six months previously.

     

Failing to Show the Real Liverpool at Arsenal

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    Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool, November 2

    It was billed as the first real examination of Liverpool's supposed title credentials, but the Reds ultimately failed it pretty convincingly.

    With the blow of Glen Johnson missing out through illness announced before the game, Rodgers decided to select youngster Jon Flanagan at right wing-back and persist with the three centre-back system he'd decided to operate in matches around this time.

    Santi Cazorla gave the Gunners the lead in the first half, and after the back three was abandoned at half-time―and hasn't been seen since―Liverpool did improve somewhat in the second period.

    They couldn't prevent Aaron Ramsey from firing in a superb second for the hosts, though, and although Suarez missed some late chances to pull one back, the overrun Reds left the Emirates not so much disappointed by the defeat, but more upset that they weren't able to show their true selves.

The Missed Chances at Everton

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    Everton 3-3 Liverpool, November 23

    The greatest Merseyside derby for quite some time featured six goals, but it could so easily have had many more.

    Quick-fire strikes from Philippe Coutinho and Kevin Mirallas saw the match explode into life, with Suarez then putting Liverpool 2-1 up with a fine free-kick.

    In a moment that still no doubt plays on the Welshman's mind, Joe Allen missed a glorious chance to put the Reds 3-1 ahead, a mistake that was compounded when Romelu Lukaku's two goals gave the hosts the lead, only for Daniel Sturridge's header to salvage a point for Liverpool at the death.

    While a fine performance from Simon Mignolet ensured that Liverpool didn't concede more that three at one end, the Reds must also look back on missed opportunities from Allen, Suarez and a late Victor Moses effort and wonder just what might have been from a contest that will live on through the ages.

The Non-Performance at Hull

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    Hull 3-1 Liverpool, December 1

    While the Southampton loss was out on it's own as Liverpool's worst performance of the season for quite some time, it was surpassed by this defeat to a spirited and deserving Hull City side at the KC Stadium.

    Still reeling from the news that they were to be without Daniel Sturridge for a number of weeks, the Reds never really got going in Yorkshire, with Moses and Sterling unable to provide Suarez with strong enough support in attack.

    Jake Livermore's deflected effort gave the hosts the lead, only for a Steven Gerrard free-kick to draw Liverpool level.

    Hull kept pressing, though, and after home goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved well from Moses, a David Meyler strike and Martin Skrtel's own goal compounded Liverpool's bad day and ensured that Rodgers and company will know that they'll need to improve their away form to stay near the top places in the table.