With the Premier League nearing the halfway point, now is an appropriate time to hand out some mid-season Liverpool awards.
The 2020-2021 season has defied any sort of reasonable predictions. Few predicted the defender crisis the club faces, the effects of COVID-19, and the team’s wildly inconsistent form.
Liverpool currently sit on 34 points after 18 matches, 18 less than they had at the same stage last season. Nonetheless, they find themselves just 3 points out of the top spot.
The congested fixture list and the bevy of injuries have resulted in many players failing to find a rhythm this season. Long-term spells on the sidelines have affected Thiago, Diogo Jota, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, and more. That doesn’t even consider the injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
With all this in mind, here are Liverpool’s award winners at the midway point of the 2020/2021 season:
Player of the Season: Mohamed Salah
Recent performances may cloud Liverpool fans’ memories, but make no mistake, Salah has performed brilliantly.
The Egyptian paces the Premier League with 13 goals on the season. Salah has also contributed 3 assists, tied for second on the team. Furthermore, Salah boasts a reliable injury record, especially important given Liverpool’s luck in this department.
Liverpool’s attack doesn’t possess the same threat that it has in past seasons, but the Egyptian still carries the side with moments of magic. Goals against Leeds United, Man City, and Spurs have been especially important.
If Liverpool are to regain their scoring touch and repeat as league champions, Salah’s form will be paramount.
Newcomer of the Season: Diogo Jota
As inspiring as Thiago has been recently, Jota easily wins this award. The Portuguese forward hit the ground running with Liverpool, scoring in his Premier League debut against Arsenal.
Jota continued his splendid form with goals against Sheffield United, FC Midtjylland, and a hat-trick against Atalanta. With increasing reliance on Liverpool’s front three, Jota has offered a refreshing, direct attacking option.
The former Wolves player has achieved remarkable accolades since his move to Merseyside. He became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler to score 7 goals in his first 10 appearances. Furthermore, he became the first Liverpool player to score in his first four home league matches.
Nothing demonstrates Jota’s importance to the side more than the team’s performances since his knee injury in early December. Taking away Liverpool’s 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, Liverpool have scored just 8 goals in 7 games.
Recent reports indicate that Jota will still need a few more weeks before returning to the Liverpool side. Jurgen Klopp and fans alike will be counting the days.
Most Indispensable Player: Fabinho
Liverpool fans have grown accustomed to Fabinho protecting the backline. Few would have imagined that Fabinho would become the key to the backline that he once protected.
With Liverpool suffering from injuries to Van Dijk, Gomez, and Matip, Jurgen Klopp has deployed Fabinho as a centre-back. Despite the unfamiliarity with the position, one could reasonably argue that Fabinho has been one of the best centre-backs in England.
The former Monaco man’s ability to read the game, organize the defence, and win aerial duels have proven vital to his success. Despite being forced to play with an array of defensive partners, Fabinho has performed admirably.
At this point, Liverpool cannot afford to lose the Brazilian at any cost. His versatility will be absolutely essential in both the short and long term.
Surprise Player: Curtis Jones
Not to be taken for granted, many envisioned an extremely bright Liverpool future for Jones. His stunning curler against Everton last season offered a glimpse of his abilities.
However, few expected the academy product to be utilized as much as he has so far this season. Jones has already made 19 appearances this season for Liverpool, 11 in the Premier League.
With midfielders Fabinho, Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and more all suffering injuries, Jones gained an opportunity to impress Jurgen Klopp and fully took it. The 19-year-old offers an attacking thrust from the midfield that few others have in their locker.
Jones has turned from exciting prospect to undisputed member of the first team. Liverpool fans should look forward to seeing Jones on the field for the foreseeable future.
Most Disappointing Player: Takumi Minamino
When Minamino joined the side a year ago, many envisioned that he would provide the attacking output that Jota now has.
Unfortunately for the former RB Salzburg player, life in England has proven relentless. Minamino has appeared in just 8 league matches this season, with only 2 starts.
Minamino has struggled to adjust to the physicality of the Premier League thus far. His lack of consistency in the side hasn’t allowed him to use his tidy link-up abilities.
Now, Minamino faces a crossroads with at least 4 attackers well above him in the pecking order. It will be interesting to see how the Japanese international responds and whether or not he can rebound.
Player to Watch: Xherdan Shaqiri
With Liverpool’s recent scoring struggles, Jurgen Klopp has leaned on Shaqiri to provide a creative spark.
The Swiss international has faced most of the season in the injury room but finally seems healthy again. Many believe that Shaqiri could provide a new dimension to the Reds’ attack.
“Big Shaq” possesses a wand of a left foot, allowing him to whip in dangerous crosses from any angle. Furthermore, he adds an element of risk-taking and mercuriality that the side largely lacks.
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool players all hold the former Stoke player in high regard. With Shaqiri keen to prove his worth, expect to see more of Shaqiri the rest of the season.
Player who could use a Move: Divock Origi
While Minamino has been disappointing, Origi has disappeared entirely.
Origi has only appeared 9 times for the Reds this season, with only 3 of those in the Premier League. This has amounted to just 1 goal in a League Cup tie against Lincoln City.
The Belgian has been linked with moves away for multiple transfer windows now, yet he still dons a Reds jersey. Jurgen Klopp has even chosen to leave Origi out of the matchday squad at some points this season.
While Liverpool fans will always hold Origi in high regard for his memorable goals, now is the time for Origi to find a new home.