Liverpool's emphatic 5-0 win over Swansea City last week marked the first time this season that the Merseyside club have beaten a team placed above them in the Premier League table. 

This fact shows it has not been smooth sailing for the new manager at the helm, Brendan Rodgers, whose side currently rest in eighth spot in the table.

The Anfield giants experienced a poor previous term, which saw them finish in eighth place - their worst position in 18 years. Such was the nature of this result that it forced the club's American-based owners to sack then manager Kenny Dalglish, a Liverpool great and an immensely popular figure among the fans.

Rodgers was then handed the Anfield reins in view of the Northern Irishman's successful spell at Swansea City and was tasked to restore the Reds lost dominance in domestic and European competitions.

If Rodgers had no worries over the challenge of this new assignment, he was soon to get a wake-up call as the team suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion on the opening day and it took them six games to register their first league win of the season.

Rodgers has been credited for introducing a new playing style to the Premier League which revolves around retaining possession and playing quick passing football, but doubts began to creep in over the manager's playing philosophy and its ability to succeed at Anfield. 

However, Liverpool were able to overcome their slow start and slowly they crawled up into the top half of the table. After 27 matches, the team now find themselves just three points off the top six, and still carry an outside chance of breaking into the top four.

It can be argued that the team made up for their shortcomings in the league last season with their domestic cup performances, which saw them hoist the League Cup trophy and finish runner-ups to Chelsea in the FA Cup.

A careful scrutiny and analysis of stats and figures though will present a different picture.

Liverpool only managed to score 47 goals in total throughout the 2011/12 campaign, while the team have already crossed that mark this time around, having hit the back of the net 49 times in 27 matches.

But in both seasons, the Reds have been guilty of profligacy in front of goal. Their conversion rate was a paltry 9.1% in the previous term and this season it stands at 12.8%.

Defensively, Liverpool have remained as resolute as last season, keeping 10 clean sheets in total thus far and having shipped just 34 goals. 

Perhaps the most significant improvement that Liverpool have witnessed has been the form and consistency of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan sensation could only manage 11 league goals throughout the 2011/12 campaign but has already hit the net 18 times this season and is only second to Manchester United's Robin van Persie in the scoring charts. Whenever the Reds needed an inspiration, Suarez stepped forward to provide it.

The only downside for Liverpool though has been their inability to chalk out wins against the Premier League's high-profile clubs. For any team to stake their claim for a Champions League spot, it is expected of them to beat their competing rivals. 

For now, it can be said with a certain amount of certainty that Brendan Rodgers' troops will end up short of finishing inside the top four places. But the fans should take heart from the improvement that their team have shown over recent months and how they have developed an eye-catching brand of football under the new manager.

For now, all Liverpool can hope for is a strong finish and to make sure they head into next season in a rich vein of form and hence emerge as strong top-four contenders.


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