Predictions revisited: How did Liverpool’s season go compared to what we predicted last summer?

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By ‘The Don’ – @donkopleone

Last August I wrote an article in which I took Liverpool’s fixture list and by predicting the results for every game across the season, looked at how we could become champions of England once again.

Disappointingly, this review of those predictions comes after Manchester City claimed the title for the second successive season, yet the real Liverpool side still exceeded the results that I had hypothesised.

In August I wrote: “[In this prediction] we win the title with 87 points, while Manchester City are right behind on 86,” acknowledging that this required Guardiola’s side to lose 14 points from the previous season.

I argued that City’s failure to sign a new defensive midfielder could come back to haunt them and that defending the Premier League is notoriously difficult, before concluding: “If we were to reach that total [87 points] and not land that elusive 19th league championship, we would be very, very unlucky.”

As it was, obviously, we were even more than “very, very unlucky,” and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool became the side with the third greatest points total ever in a 38-game season in the top tier of English football. Sadly the team who boast the record for both first and second in that category happened to pip us over the line.

Gallery: Every Liverpool player’s goal output in 2018/19 – Prediction vs. Reality

Nevertheless, why not look at how Liverpool exceeded my expectations across the season?

1) WEST HAM (H)
Prediction 3-1 W
Result 4-0 W

We got the opening day win I expected, but a clean sheet against an offensively-talented West Ham side highlighted a greater defensive strength to this team.

2) CRYSTAL PALACE (A)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 0-2 W

In August I suggested “a draw would hardly be a disaster”, but it soon became clear that to win the league this season, draws in traditionally tough away games against teams outside the top six would not be acceptable. Both fixtures against Palace this season were stern tests, and until Sadio Mane netted a late second goal this game was right in the balance.

3) BRIGHTON (H)
Prediction: 4-0 W
Result: 1-0 W

Although this result saw the Reds keep a third successive clean sheet, the game was much tighter than I had anticipated. An indicator, then, that the previous blitzkrieg mentality was to be replaced with a more balanced approach. I noted in this prediction that to win the league we would need to win all of our home games against sides outside of the top six, and suggested a home record of W17, D2, which we went on to match.

4) LEICESTER (A)
Prediction: 1-2 W
Result: 1-2 W

Ring-ding-ding correct score alert! I considered this prediction to be somewhat ‘hopeful’, but it turned out to be on the money. Well done me!

5) SPURS (A)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 1-2 W

In the prediction I praised my hypothetical Liverpool for coming through these first five games unbeaten – in reality, Klopp’s side went one better, with five wins out of five. An exceptional start to the season.

6) SOUTHAMPTON (H)
Prediction: 2-0 W
Result: 3-0 W

Another good win and clean sheet. As for my prediction, I rightly suggested Mark Hughes would struggle to take Southampton back to the level they were at under Mauricio Pochettino, and he was sacked soon after this.

7) CHELSEA (A)
Prediction: 1-3 W
Result: 1-1 D

I acknowledged this was another ‘hopeful’ result, but was expecting Sarri’s Chelsea to struggle early on in the season and gradually improve. As it was, both teams entered this game unbeaten, and these records were maintained thanks to Daniel Sturridge’s late thunderbolt.

8) MANCHESTER CITY (H)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 0-0 D

After Sky Sports built up this as the ‘game of the season’, the actual fixture was fairly uneventful with both sides showing their opposition plenty of respect. Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty felt like it could be the crucial moment in the season, but ultimately this point was a better one for City than it was for us.

9) HUDDERSFIELD (A)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 0-1 W

Despite the three points, this was one of Liverpool’s worst performances across the season, so in that respect I was right that our players may struggle following an international break and tough run of fixtures. Nevertheless, I overestimated a Huddersfield side who were eventually relegated in record speed, and our poor showing went unpunished.

10) CARDIFF (H)
Prediction: 6-0 W
Result: 4-1 W

While I expected a red destruction of Neil Warnock’s side, the reality was that Cardiff made it 2-1 with ten minutes to go at Anfield, and so this tie was a nervy one.

11) ARSENAL (A)
Prediction: 1-2 W
Result: 1-1 D

Unai Emery improved Arsenal’s big match record this season, which surprised me. And having criticised the signing of Sokratis, the Greek arguably became the North London side’s best central defender. Nevertheless, with a goal wrongly ruled out for Klopp’s side, my 2-1 prediction was nearly spot on.

12) FULHAM (H)
Prediction: 3-1 W
Result: 2-0 W

A game remembered for Alisson’s quick-mindedness to spring the counter-attack which led to Mo Salah’s opener. There’s nothing more to say.

13) WATFORD (A)
Prediction: 1-0 L
Result: 0-3 W

I thought we would lose our unbeaten record with a tricky tie at Vicarage Road on the back of a problematic international break. However, with an Alexander-Arnold free-kick the highlight, the Reds remained invincible thus far.

14) EVERTON (H)
Prediction: 2-0 W
Result: 1-0 W

I talked about us absolutely “shithousing” a win here, and “the more the three points piss off the bitters the better”. Well, well well. Divock Origi. 90+6.

15) BURNLEY (A)
Prediction: 1-2 W
Result: 1-3 W

Another great shout from DonKop, I expected “Burnley to really struggle for the opening half of the season, as their squad [looked] too small to successfully combine the pressures of Premier and Europa League football,”which came to light with Burnley very much in relegation danger at this point. Yet it was Burnley who went ahead at Turf Moor, and it required great resilience- and the introductions of Firmino and Salah- for Liverpool to succeed.

16) BOURNEMOUTH (A)
Prediction: 0-4 W
Result: 0-4 W

Absolutely no idea how I predicted this, I did forecall an end-to-end affair but this was an exceptional result fuelled by a Mo Salah hat-trick. In fact, I remember saying at the time that Liverpool’s South coast display was our most complete of the season so far, with quality in all departments. A great, if predictable (!?), result.

17) MANCHESTER UNITED (H)
Prediction: 1-0 W
Result: 3-1 W

I underestimated just how far United would regress- although I saw us ending our recent United hoodoo. In reality, thirty-six shots at goal saw Jose Mourinho absolutely embarrassed and promptly sacked.

18) WOLVES (A)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 0-2 A

What a run this was. As expected, this was a tough, tough fixture, but Virgil van Dijk’s first goal of the season saw us make it seven successive wins during the tough winter period. Top on Christmas Day, *sighs*.

19) NEWCASTLE (H)
Prediction: 2-0 W
Result: 4-0 W

A Lovren humdinger (!) to kick things off, who remembers that from Boxing Day?

20) ARSENAL (H)
Prediction: 4-1 W
Result: 5-1 W

I’ll be honest, I did a very good job on this whole prediction business back in August. Although in recent years tonking Arsenal at Anfield is hardly a rare occurrence, is it?

21) MANCHESTER CITY (A)
Prediction: 3-2 L
Result: 2-1 L

In August I suggested City may have the advantage in this fixture by coming off a game against Southampton rather than Arsenal. As it was, this game was 11mm away from going another way. Let’s end it there and stop crying.

22) BRIGHTON (A)
Prediction: 2-2 D
Result: 0-1 W

…At least we recovered with three points, which I had not foreseen. Brighton posed less offensive threat this season than they did the year before, and we doubled up on 1-0 victories with another Mo Salah winner.

23) CRYSTAL PALACE (H)
Prediction: 5-1 W
Result: 4-3 W

I expected goals, but not as many from Crystal Palace as reality brought. Liverpool only conceded more than two goals in one game twice during the 2018-2019 season – away at the Nou Camp and at home to Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace. A strange duo. Stats courtesy of OptaDon.

24) LEICESTER (H)
Prediction: 2-1 W
Result: 1-1 D

Had Naby Keita rightly been awarded a second half penalty this would have been bang on, making it two from two on my Leicester predictions.

25) WEST HAM (A)
Prediction: 2-2 D
Result: 1-1 D

In August I suggested this would be a “very tricky fixture, indeed”, and surprise, surprise, two dropped points at the Olympic Stadium were a key two lost in our title challenge. I am enjoying this season recap slightly less right now.

26) BOURNEMOUTH (H)
Prediction: 4-1 W
Result: 3-0 W

Back to winning ways in worlds both real and theoretical. Things to remember about this game? The brilliant team move leading to our third – and Mo Salah’s first – on the day.

27) MANCHESTER UNITED (A)
Prediction: 0-1 L
Result: 0-0 D

Better than I had predicted but no Liverpool fan will look back at this trip to Old Trafford with much joy. A United side depleted by injuries were there for the taking, so it was another two points dropped for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

28) WATFORD (H)
Prediction: 6-0 W
Result: 5-0 W

Oh come on, could we not have just popped one more home? Given either Sadio or Virgil a hat-trick?

29) EVERTON (A)
Prediction: 1-1 D
Result: 0-0 D

I am on a good run on predicting us dropping points away from home, in ‘Prediction World’. In real world, however, I was watching my beloved Reds lose our seven point lead at the top of the Premier League table with a draw at Goodison Park. A frustratingly correct prediction.

30) BURNLEY (H)
Prediction: 2-0 W
Result: 4-2 W

In all honesty, I watched this game at the end of an all nighter and am finding it difficult to remember exactly what happened. Burnley scored a dodgy corner and we came back. Good win.

31) FULHAM (A)
Prediction: 1-2 W
Result: 1-2 W

Another prediction bang on. I suggested “these are the kind of games where titles are won and lost” and three points here were very important, sadly City matched it but a week later.

32) TOTTENHAM (H)
Prediction: 3-1 W
Result: 2-1 W

“I expect this will be a ‘must-win’ match, and we will later watch Spurs’ trip to the Etihad knowing that we need them to get something.” Oh dear God. Why was I so painfully correct?

33) SOUTHAMPTON (A)
Prediction: 1-2 W
Result: 1-3 W

Decent prediction, and an even better win. After this comeback victory I thought our name was on the trophy.

34) CHELSEA (H)
Prediction: 2-2 D
Result: 2-0 W

I expected Chelsea under Sarri to be more offensively dangerous than was proven. The 85-40 GF-GA ratio I had predicted became just 63-39. Truth be told the Blues never looked like scoring twice at Anfield, even if Eden Hazard came close on a few occasions.

35) CARDIFF (A)
Prediction: 1-3 W
Result: 0-2 W

In August I saw this being a very tough game if Cardiff were “in 18th”, fighting for their lives. Indeed such a situation came to pass, but Liverpool’s quality did shine through.

36) HUDDERSFIELD (H)
Prediction: 4-0 W
Result: 5-0 W

Why did I say four? Why could I not have just said five, a nicer, rounder number? I guess I just didn’t expect Huddersfield to be quite as terrible as they were…

37) NEWCASTLE(A)
Prediction: 0-2 W
Result: 2-3 W

Maybe I was being hopeful, thinking “Rafa, being the Red he still is, does not want to screw us over, and plays the kids”. As it was, Rafa set out a strong test, and only through Divock Origi’s first big moment of many that week did we take our challenge to the final day.

38) WOLVES (H)
Prediction: 3-1 W
Result: 2-0 W

I was hoping City’s result at the Amex would be irrelevant to our final home win, but as it turned out, all Anfield ears were glued to radios, hoping for Brighton to build on Glenn Murray’s opener. They didn’t. The title went to Manchester.

Premier League record

Predicted: P 38, W 26, D 9, L 3, GF 92, GA 32, GD 60, PTS 87

Reality: P 38, W 30, D 7, L 1, GF 89, GA 22, GD 67, PTS 97

Home record

Predicted: P 19, W 17, D 2, L 0, PTS 53

Reality: P 19, W 17, D 2, L 0, PTS 53

Away record

Predicted: P 19, W 9, D 7, L 3, PTS 34

Reality: P 19, W 13, D 5, L 1, PTS 44

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