A couple of months ago, it seemed like things might finally be turning around. After a season of fits and starts -- 9-0 wins soon followed by 4-1 losses; defeating Manchester City, winning 7-1 in the Champions League, and canceling it all out with losses to Leeds and Nottingham Forest -- Liverpool went into the World Cup break with a win over Napoli, a road victory at Spurs and a 3-1 home win against Southampton.
More than anyone, this club needed a break -- and most of their players were going to get one. Outside of Virgil Van Dijk (Netherlands), Jordan Henderson (England), and Darwin Nunez (Uruguay), none of Liverpool's outfield players were expected to start at the World Cup. A number of others -- Thiago, Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson, Joel Matip, Harvey Elliott, Roberto Firmino, to name a few -- weren't even going to Qatar.
Sure, they'd struggled in the Premier League, but despite that 4-1 defeat to Napoli, Liverpool's 15 points in the Champions League group stages were more than all but two other teams. Plus, it was still the same players and same coaches! Outside of Sadio Mane, everyone was back from last season's record-setting side. And they'd brought in Nunez for a new flavor up front, while the young duo of Elliott and Fabio Carvalho added some youth and some attacking/midfield depth to an aging squad.
Yes, there were injuries but even a depleted version of the squad should've still comfortably settled into somewhere within the top four. Hell, these guys finished third with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams starting at center-back two years ago.
The first two games back from the World Cup suggested that Liverpool might, in fact, be fine. Even with injuries across the attack, Liverpool dominated matches away to Aston Villa and home to Leicester City. Come the end of the year, they'd won four in a row in the league and were just four points back of fourth.
Well, it's February now, and Liverpool haven't won a Premier League game in 2023. In fact, they've only won a solitary point, have only scored a solitary goal, and have conceded nine times in four matches. Things aren't getting better; it seems like they're only getting worse.