Diogo Jota's return to form, Curtis Jones' revival and seven reasons for Liverpool fans to be cheerful despite their disastrous season

Curtis Jones Mohamed Salah Liverpool GFX
It's not been easy to find positives amid a miserable Reds campaign, but Jurgen Klopp is right to believe that better days lie ahead

Liverpool’s future has already started, according to Jurgen Klopp. What it will look like, however, is another matter entirely.

Whichever way you slice it, this has been a chastening season at Anfield. There may be mitigating factors, and perhaps a drop-off was inevitable given the energy and emotion expended in recent years, but who seriously could have predicted a campaign quite like this one for the Reds?

After 31 Premier League games last season, Klopp’s side had lost twice, were on 73 points, had one trophy in the bag already and were chasing three more. This time around, they’re 23 points worse off, seventh in the table and the only thing they’ve got to look forward to in May - assuming they don’t somehow scramble a top-four finish - is the end of this annus horribilis and a long, refreshing break.

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End of an era stuff really, isn’t it? But while it has been easy to spot the negatives, and easy to direct criticism the Reds’ way, Klopp has been determined to take a glass-half-full approach in recent weeks. 

And believe it or not, there are still a few things for Liverpool fans to cling to, despite their side’s struggles.

GOAL takes a look on the bright side of life…

  1. Mo Salah's still scoring
    Getty Images

    Mo Salah's still scoring

    Considering he has had, by his own high standards at least, a bit of a mixed campaign, Liverpool’s talisman is still clocking up some pretty impressive numbers, don’t you think?

    He’s missed a couple of penalties recently, but Saturday’s winner against Nottingham Forest was Salah’s 27th goal of the season in all competitions, and his 16th in the Premier League. Only Harry Kane, Ivan Toney and a certain Norwegian in Manchester have more, and Salah has more league assists (seven) than any of those three, and more than the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes too, for that matter.

    The Egyptian is on course for his third consecutive 30-goal season, and his fourth in six seasons at Liverpool. If there were doubts about whether the lucrative contract he signed last summer might affect his motivation, they have surely been answered, and in pretty emphatic style too.

  2. Luis Diaz is back

    Luis Diaz is back

    While Liverpool have been able to count on Salah’s presence on one flank, they have been denied the services of their other wing wizard for much of the campaign.

    Diaz’s knee injury, suffered in the defeat to Arsenal on October 8, eventually sidelined him for more than 30 matches, but the Colombian has made his return to action this month, and has already given Reds fans a glimpse of what they've been missing.

    “Pure joy,” is how Klopp has described the 26-year-old, and certainly Diaz’s energy, determination and skill from the left has been sorely missed this season, with Liverpool too often lacking spark and purpose, especially away from home.

    Having him back in any capacity is a major boost, having back at full tilt will be like welcoming a new, world-class attacker into the team.

  3. Diogo Jota's drought is over
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    Diogo Jota's drought is over

    After a year without a Liverpool goal, Jota scored four times in the space of five days last week, and what a welcome sight that will have been for Klopp.

    The Portugal international has always had a decent habit of netting decisive strikes for the Reds, and the manner of his recent finishes against both Leeds and Nottingham Forest suggests that not only is he returning to full sharpness after a season disrupted badly by injury, but that the confidence which marked his first 18 months on Merseyside is starting to return too.

    With Cody Gakpo doing well since his January arrival, and with Darwin Nunez’s first season with the Reds having yielded 15 goals despite a few teething problems, Klopp believes he has a forward line capable of competing with anybody in the future. A fit and firing Jota is a huge part of that.

  4. Stefan Bajcetic has emerged

    Stefan Bajcetic has emerged

    Amid the dark days of winter came a shining light for Liverpool, wearing the No.43 jersey and with his socks rolled down to his ankles.

    Bajcetic was a virtual unknown at the start of this season, but he certainly isn’t any more. He may be less than 20 games into his professional career, but the 18-year-old looks very much like he’s here to stay.

    There’s something special about the Spain Under-19 international, something which convinces you he's got a long-term future at the club. Whether it’s his composure in possession, his fearlessness in the tackle or the way he reads the game and picks up second balls in midfield, Bajcetic looks like he’s got the lot.

    However Liverpool’s midfield rebuild turns out this summer, expect the youngster to be a significant part of it.

  5. Curtis Jones is stepping up

    Curtis Jones is stepping up

    Despite playing close to 100 games for Liverpool’s first team, it is fair to say that Jones is yet to convince everybody that he can be a mainstay.

    But there have been definite signs in recent weeks that a) he is over the injury which has dogged him for the best part of nine months and that b) he is grasping what is needed to play regularly in the Reds’ midfield.

    Jones has started each of his side’s last four matches, and has found ways to influence the game besides his usual neat-and-tidiness. Klopp says that off-the-ball work, counter-pressing, is “the ticket” into his team, and Jones has done that as well as anybody in recent weeks, while also helping create goals and keep possession.

    He’ll need to do more if he’s to keep himself in the side, of course. Liverpool are going to spend on midfielders in the summer, and rightly so. 

    But at least the 22-year-old looks like he’s ready for the battle, and the more talented, young, hungry players Klopp has at his disposal the better. Jones, like Bajcetic, and like Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, Ben Doak and Calvin Ramsay, has the potential to make life a lot easier for his manager. The time to deliver is now.

  6. The transfer window's nearly here

    The transfer window's nearly here

    Whatever Liverpool do in the final weeks of this season, their plan for the summer transfer window won’t change.

    Klopp has made no secret of his desire for reinforcements, with midfield the main focus of attention. Work is already taking place on a number of fronts, with the likes of Mason Mount, Ryan Gravenberch and Alexis Mac Allister all prominent on the club’s list of targets.

    A new centre-back would also be desirable, particularly if Joel Matip leaves, while a back-up goalkeeper will be needed if Caoimhin Kelleher heads off in search of regular game-time. 

    On the way out will be the likes of Naby Keita, Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, all of whom are out of contract. James Milner may also leave, although a new deal should not be ruled out at this stage, while Nat Phillips is likely to be sold and Arthur Melo will be sent back to Juventus after his pretty miserable loan spell.

    It means there will be a fair bit of upheaval, certainly more than Liverpool have been used to in recent years, but with change comes opportunity, and Klopp will hope that in the coming weeks, some of the glaring issues within his squad can be well and truly fixed.

  7. The top-four is still within reach...just
    (C)Getty Images

    The top-four is still within reach...just

    It still looks like a long shot, but we shouldn’t rule out a top-four finish for Liverpool just yet. With seven games remaining, the Reds must make up a nine-point deficit to both Newcastle and Manchester United, the latter of whom boast a game in hand for good measure.

    Unlikely, yes, but strange things can happen at this time of year, and Newcastle’s remaining fixtures include games against Arsenal, Brighton and Chelsea, as well as trips to relegation-threatened Everton and Leeds. 

    Manchester United, meanwhile, play Chelsea and Brighton as well as Tottenham and in-form Aston Villa. Possibilities, perhaps, for the gap to be closed.

    First and foremost, though, Liverpool must ensure that they themselves are flawless between now and the end of the season. They've won their last two, and they now need to win their next seven.

    Then, and only then, will they have half a chance.