​It’s the same old story as a Liverpool fan, isn’t it? Last year it was Madrid, this time it was another Spanish giant, but the same theme remains prevalent: glorious failure on the cusp of success. 

Or that’s how it feels just now, at least. 

It’s often hard to look at the positives after a crushing defeat when expectations were high. However, if we take that defeat in Catalonia for what it is – a lesson from the best footballer on the planet and a reminder that the Reds still have a bit to go before they can call themselves one of Europe’s biggest dogs once again – we begin to see that things definitely aren’t all doom and gloom. 

Here are a few reasons to stay positive in the weeks and months to come. 


Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Will Be Back Firing

Joe Gomez’s form in the early part of the season had him rivalling Virgil van Dijk, in some people’s eyes, as ​Liverpool‘s defensive MVP. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, was beginning to properly repay his £35m transfer fee, and is to be​ handed a 12-month contract extension to make up for the year he lost due to injury.

Both are back in and around the squad, and with a full pre-season’s worth of match-fitness under their respective belts, they offer terrific new options to this Liverpool side. 


The Defence Is Only Getting Better

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​And that leads us partly onto our next point. It’s frightening to think that the Reds’ ‘first choice back four’ – Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson – has an average age of just 23. 

Considering the Reds have conceded just 20 league goals so far this season, the prospect of  further defensive improvement before a signing is made really makes you feel sorry for opposition attackers at Anfield in the years to come. 


Naby Keita is Coming Good

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Naby Keita finally arrived at Liverpool in the summer, a year after his move was announced, and had suffered from a desperately poor final season in Germany. Arriving on Merseyside, it initially looked like his woes would continue, failing to hit the heights expected of him after a promising debut, and found himself frozen out of the team for long spells.

Just as Fabinho before him, however, he has persevered to become an important part of a combative midfield three, and finally looks to have cracked it. ​Injury setback aside, he’ll be one to watch next season if his current trend is anything to go by.


Anfield Is a Fortress

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​Liverpool haven’t lost at Anfield in the Premier League in a run that now stretches back over two years. Anfield is now once again a place any opponent – including Barcelona and their three goal advantage – will fear. 

If Jurgen Klopp’s side can carry that run into next season, then it will be a huge asset in what should be another title race.


Gini WIjnaldum’s Continued Versatility

Georginio Wijnaldum was expected to be frozen out of the Liverpool team with the wealth of options now available in midfield, but to his credit, he has got his head down and become more important to the side than ever.

Central to that has been his versatility. He has played in both holding and more advanced midfield roles this season, and made his debut as a centre-forward against Barcelona during the week – even if it wasn’t his best evening. He’s also filled in at centre-back previously, and Klopp seems to love his attitude, so moving forward, he looks like he will continue to be key. 


FA Youth Cup Winners

Looking into the long-term future now, the Liverpool team that won the FA Youth Cup against Manchester City last week looks to have ​more than a few stars with a genuine chance of making it into the first-team in the long run. 

In particular, the on-fire duo of Bobby Duncan and Paul Glatzel – with 45 goals between them at youth level this season – look like promising options going forward. 


Rhian Brewster’s Development

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A little further forward in the pecking order, young striker Rhian Brewster has endured a season hampered with an injury picked up last season. He was due to return around Christmas, but it didn’t materialise due to some complications. 

It now looks as if next season is his target for a return to fitness, but he is believed to be very highly thought of by Klopp, with the new deal he was given in the summer proving that. He could be the alternative attacking option Reds fans have so long been crying out for, and break into the first team like Trent Alexander-Arnold. 

Mohamed Salah Has Proven He’s More Than a One-Season Wonder 

As impressive as Mohamed Salah was last season with his 44 goals in 52 games, there were some fears that it may have been a freak phenomenon, and he wouldn’t be a consistent goalscorer in the long run. Well, we can safely put that one to bed. 

He hasn’t quite hit the same levels – it would have been difficult to, really – but has still managed 25 goals and 13 assists in 49 appearances so far. Going into the final two games of the season, he tops the Premier League scoring charts. 

Given that he has now shown he’s more than a one-season wonder, the pressure will be off the Egyptian King going into 2020.


More Klopp & Edwards Signings to Come

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Whatever Jurgen Klopp has been feeding the recruitment team over the last two or three seasons, he needs to keep it up. His strike rate for signings has been spectacular – Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson all counted among the long list of hits that have taken the Reds to a new level.

There is hardly a need for an overhaul this summer, but with Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno among the fringe players looking set to leave this summer, we should see one or two reinforcements in the Klopp mould, sealed with Michael Edwards’ seemingly magic touch for getting a deal done. 


Captain Henderson’s Advanced Role

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What the face of Liverpool’s midfield could look like in the long-run is anyone’s guess given that there are as many as six players currently in contention for three spots, and the latest player to truly lay down the gauntlet is captain Jordan Henderson. 

Formerly frustrated by his lack of first-team action, he asked Klopp to give him a chance to prove himself further up the park than his usual six role against Southampton, and has since laid on assists for two goals, proving he can be an attacking threat from midfield. 


Third Successive Season in the Champions League

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It might seem like stark consolation now, but at the beginning of last season, Champions League football in the long-run was by no means a guarantee. Now, the Reds have made the semi-finals for the second year on the bounce, and will have a third crack at it next season. 

Put that into the perspective of how the last four or five seasons have looked, and that is a decent accomplishment. The simple fact that we can’t take much solace from this is a sign of how far Klopp has taken the side forward since his arrival. 


Tactical Versatility

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The side that made the Champions League final last season were good, there’s no disputing that, but they were a bit one-note. If they couldn’t blow teams away in the first half-hour with their relentlessly high-pressure 4-3-3, then they didn’t have much else to turn to. 

That has clearly been a concern for Klopp and his coaching staff, and it has been addressed this season. We’ve seen a 4-2-3-1 with Mohamed Salah up top at times, we’ve even seen a 4-4-2 with the Egyptian partnering Roberto Firmino, and most recently, we’ve seen Sadio Mane used as a central striker to catch opponents off-guard. As good as plan A is, then, it seems Klopp is not afraid to twist it when he needs to. 


Team Has Shown Bottle for the Big Occasions

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Liverpool were always a danger going forward for any side on their day, but they never looked like the kind of side who could grind out the 1-0s or last the distance with Europe’s elite when the pressure is on. They have now shirked that tag. 

It’s easy to lose count of the amount of times they have had to win in order to keep the pressure on Manchester City, and they’ve gone and done it with a late winner or a scrappy goal. They ground out a win against Napoli to make the Champions League last 16, and look far more calm in the face of pressure than they have since the early days of Rafa Benitez.


The Squad Won’t Be Dismantled This Summer

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The fear with previous Liverpool squads has always been that yes, they may be good, but it’s also likely that the star players will be on their bikes come the summer. That was the case with Luis Suarez, and with Philippe Coutinho, but these days, Liverpool is the end for players, rather than the means. 

The superstar trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have all recently(ish) penned new terms, and with Jurgen Klopp also showing no signs of going anywhere, it seems as if the current group will be together for the long-run.


All Signs Suggest It’s Only the Beginning

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This Liverpool side has been so impressive that it should feel like the culmination of an era – but there is absolutely nothing to suggest it is the end of anything. 

Continuity has been key for Klopp so far, and it looks like it will continue to be, as they look better placed than ever for a return to glory. If not this season, then very soon.

Source: https://www.90min.com/posts/6359733-15-reasons-to-be-cheerful-as-a-liverpool-fan-despite-humbling-defeat-in-barcelona?utm_source=RSS