Säsongens första förlust för oss kom på Turf Moor mot Burnley, på söndag är det chans till revansch då Sean Dyches mannar kommer på besök på Anfield. Nykomlingarna har gjort en stark säsong hittills och parkerar på en ganska säker position i mitten av tabellen, klart bättre än ligans två andra nykomlingar. Natalie Bromley från podcasten NoNayNever(@nonaynevernet) har varit med laget i de senaste årens pendlande mellan Premier League och Championship, här kan ni läsa hennes syn på laget, de övriga nykomlingarnas prestationer och Liverpools chanser att nå CL:
1. It´s been a while since we last met, how would you describe your season so far?
Better than expected! We came into this season as clear favourites to go straight back down and everyone expected us to struggle. To be sitting in 12th position, 9 points clear of the bottom three with just 11 games left to go is a fantastic return from a season’s hard work.
2. You´ve struggled away from home this season, why do you think it´s been that way?
This is a puzzle to be honest. As a general point, it is very hard to win away games in this league as everyone is strong at home and not many teams will drop points on their own soil. So we should probably not expect to win that many games away from Turf Moor. Saying that, we should have picked up more than 2 points so far so this does need looking at. I suspect it’s a combination of a lack of confidence and some naive tactics? Dyche has been guilty of being a little negative away from home at times (trying to play tight for a 0-0 draw, rather than trying to get something from the game) and of course the psychological impact only worsens with each defeat.
3. Last time we met you wrote that Gray, Keane and Defour would be key players for you this season, how good have they been this far?
All three have been very very strong for us. Defour is currently injured and his loss has been really felt on the pitch; we lose all creativity and dynamism when he is missing. Hopefully we will see him back soon! Gray and Keane have performed exactly as we thought they would, but I would also add Tom Heaton to that list. He is a real quality keeper and has provided a very solid defensive line for us. Gray has managed to score 9 goals with very little service from our midfield and I really feel that adding some creativity to the wings will only increase his goals.
4. You signed Jon Flanagan on loan when the season started, how has been when he has played?
Not great, if we are honest. He has been restricted to cup games and cover for injuries/suspensions, but hasn’t really taken his chance when it’s been offered to him. Interestingly, I do wonder whether this is the result of a position issue – Dyche has played him exclusively at left back and we believe he is better suited to the right – but so far we haven’t seen much promise in him. I would like to see him in his natural position before completely writing him off though!
5. You´ve been away from Premier League for a year, do you think there are any differences between the league now and the last time you were up?
Besides a shocking standard of refereeing, no, not really. And I think that has shown in the performances and results we have put on the board. We have taught ourselves well and become experienced in what it takes to survive in this league. We were very naive tactically both two years ago and in 2009/2010 but this year we have tightened up our home form and beaten mid-table teams like Bournemouth, Southampton and Leicester.
6. Both Middlesborough and Hull are in the relegation zone, why do you think you´ve adapted to the PL better than they have?
I think in Boro’s case, it just comes down to experience. They remind me of us a couple of years ago. It has been a long time since they were int he top flight and much has changed since then. They need to learn and adapt to this league; they have been particularly naive in parts. Hull do have recent PL experience, but came up as play-off winners and have struggled all season with managerial changes and squad problems. I just don’t think Hull were ready to come up, both mentally and logistically.
7. What are your thoughts on the fight for Champions League, do you think Liverpool will make it top four?
It is so very very tight up at the top that it could be anyone’s. Liverpool can take that final place, but only if they sort out some consistency issues. Beating Burnley at the weekend could be just the catalyst they need, whilst a loss (or a draw) could lead to some nervous in the final 10 game push.