Points Tally: 10 / 15 points (Europa League Semi-Finals)
The month got off to a decent start, as the Reds contributed to the start of the end of Tottenham Hotspur’s title challenge by holding them to a 1-1 draw at Anfield. This scoreline would then be repeated in Dortmund, as Jurgen Klopp found an away goal on his return to his old club. First indications of Liverpool’s increased efficiency in front of goal came when Stoke City visited Anfield, as the home side ran riot to win 4-1.
Dortmund were the next visitors to Liverpool, as the Reds managed to, somehow against all odds, catapult themselves into the semi finals of the Europa League. Two more league victories followed – a 2-1 away win at Bournemouth which should have been more comfortable, as well as a 4-0 derby win, which should have also seen a wider margin.
origi found his feet in april, before finding one below funes mori’s
However, despite taking a two-nil lead in the first half, the Reds could not continue this momentum in the second period of their next fixture against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle side, as the relegation battlers fought their way back to draw 2-2. And in the final moments of the month, away at Villarreal in the Europa League semis, Klopp’s men fell to an unfortunate first leg defeat.
Player of the Month: Joe Allen (average rating: 7.6)
Divock Origi would have undoubtedly had a strong shout for this accolade, had he not fall victim to Ramiro Funes Mori’s sick challenge in the second half of the Merseyside derby and managed to feature in the final two games of the month, considering how well he had been playing prior. Another likely candidate was Dejan Lovren, as he effectively sealed his spot in Klopp’s central defence.
Yet no one is more deserving than Welsh wizard Joe Allen. Much-maligned under the previous regime, Allen has made great strides under Klopp, even as he has not seen as much game-time as he would have liked. Injury to Emre Can opened the door for Allen to step up, and he has not disappoint.
allen: really fighting for a new contract
Allen starred in the first leg draw at Dortmund, where he replaced Can at half-time. The Welshman made his first start of April during the convincing victory over Stoke, before playing another crucial substitute’s role in the dramatic comeback win against Dortmund at Anfield. He was arguably the best player at Bournemouth, and continued his steady form for the last three games of April. With skipper Jordan Henderson and Can out for the foreseeable future, Allen will be a key man for the Reds’ charge for European glory in May.
Flop of the Month: Roberto Firmino (6.25)
The Brazilian has been pretty off-colour recently, after producing his best performances so far this season in February and March. Granted, Firmino started April injured, but he has not come close to resuming his previous form ever since.
Firmino did little to spark the comeback against Dortmund, with the Reds only coming to life after Klopp hauled him off. He did do okay at Bournemouth, scoring a poacher’s effort just before half-time. But even in what was a supremely easy derby victory, Firmino could not really conjure up anything tangible.
The only aspect for which the Brazilian could be applauded for was his work-rate and willingness to dispossess opposition defenders. Klopp will hope Firmino can return to fitness as soon as possible, especially with Origi out for the rest of the season.
What else? The very moment Lovren leaped and headed home at the Kop end on 14th April, there was probably no other highlight for this season, let alone just for April. Having all hope extinguished twice in just one game, before somehow finding a way past one of the top teams in the world right now, who would have thought?
what. a. night.
Despite everything going wrong within the first ten minutes of the return leg, the Reds managed to find that resolve within themselves to fight back, with Origi leading the comeback with his superbly taken effort. After Marco Reus had put Liverpool back within three of qualification, Philippe Coutinho, and then Mamadou Sakho, helped tie things up again. And the rest was history.
A derby victory would always come as a highlight for the Reds. A nice 4-0 scoreline would rank highly as well. But the manner of Everton’s display and the supreme comfort which Klopp’s men enjoyed throughout the entire derby meant that this victory wasn’t as sweet as first thought. Still, it was good to see the Blues dismantle right in front of the Anfield faithful.
young talent exists, it’s just a matter of who’s truly good enough
Perhaps the most comforting highlight was finally seeing the likes of Sheyi Ojo and Danny Ward make their league debuts, while Kevin Stewart was given more minutes. Ojo did very well against Stoke, supplying the cross for Daniel Sturridge’s goal, and combined well at Bournemouth. Ward also did well on the south coast, and was unlucky to walk away without a clean-sheet. Stewart continued to push for his place in next year’s team, as he shined against Stoke, looked decent at Bournemouth and was just a little unlucky against a reinvigorated Newcastle side.
Areas of Improvement:
After letting two-goal leads slip in February and March, Klopp would have thought these lapses would have been consigned to the past. Not this Liverpool side, as they let slip a 2-0 half-time lead against Newcastle… at home. They should clearly have been home and dry, with a third early in the second half. But such is the fragility of this Liverpool squad, they crumbled in the second period, just like they did against Sunderland and at Southampton.
Just imagine if the Reds had gained the extra 7 points from those three games.
And of course, with the league and top four all over for the Reds, their main aim is the Europa League right now. After slipping to an unfortunate, last-gasp 1-0 defeat at Villarreal, the Reds really need to step it up in the next leg at home, and do their Anfield faithful proud.
April was a very positive month for Klopp, with some semblance of consistency in his side’s league form starting to surface. Of course, the usual fragility still exists within this squad, and one that Klopp will definitely deal with in the summer window. Right now, Klopp just has to focus on continuing the month’s scoring rate during the second leg of the Europa League semi-finals against Villarreal, and make sure his Liverpool side get to the showpiece final in Basel.