Flagging Reds – How Liverpool form compares to their worst Premier League starts

Back-to-back losses against struggling Nottingham Forest and Leeds have extended one of Liverpool’s worst starts to a Premier League season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side sit ninth in the table with 16 points after 12 games and here, the PA news agency looks at their season to date and their worst of the competition’s current era.

Unwanted symmetry

Crysencio Summerville, partially obscured, scores Leeds' winner at Anfield
Crysencio Summerville, partially obscured, scores Leeds’ winner at Anfield (Richard Sellers/PA)

Four wins, four draws and four losses have led Klopp to repeatedly write off his side’s title challenge already.

Opening draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace provoked some cause for concern before a first major blow with defeat to bitter rivals and fellow early strugglers Manchester United.

Beating Bournemouth 9-0 and then Newcastle appeared to answer those doubts, and a derby draw with Everton is hardly unusual, but when Brighton’s Leandro Trossard scored a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw and Arsenal then edged a 3-2 win it was just two victories from eight for Klopp and co.

Almost inevitably they responded by beating high-flying Manchester City, their title rivals in recent seasons, with Mohamed Salah stealing the free-scoring Erling Haaland’s thunder.

They beat West Ham 1-0 but lost to Forest by the same scoreline before Crysencio Summerville’s late winner for Leeds provided another setback.

The Bournemouth result has helped Liverpool to a plus-eight goal difference, scoring 23 and conceding 15, but it has not translated to results while injuries and the below-par form of Salah, with just four league goals so far, have contributed to a concerning position.

Leaders Arsenal have almost twice as many points as Liverpool, 31 to 16, while they are 13 behind City and eight points outside the Champions League places having played just 12 games – albeit one game fewer than Tottenham or Newcastle who lie third and fourth.

Rare slump

Liverpool joint managers Roy Evans, left, and Gerard Houllier ahead of the 1998-99 season
An identical record to this season saw Roy Evans, left, leave Liverpool as Gerard Houllier took sole charge (PA)

Only five times previously have Liverpool had 16 points or fewer after 12 Premier League games, finishing sixth or seventh on each occasion.

1992-93

The first Premier League season brought the Reds’ worst start, with only 13 points at this stage leaving them 16th out of 22 teams.

Their three wins came against Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and third-placed finishers Norwich, against whom they recorded their first clean sheet of the campaign in the 11th game. They climbed to ninth before a mid-season slump but won seven of their last 12 games to finish sixth.

1998-99

Like this season, four wins, four draws and four defeats left Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier’s team with much to do.

They had won three of their first four, including 4-1 against Newcastle, but then had only a 5-1 win over Forest to show for their next nine games before Houllier took sole charge. They climbed from 11th at that point to finish seventh.

2010-11

Roy Hodgson watches his Liverpool side in action against Blackburn
Roy Hodgson lasted barely half a season at Anfield (Martin Rickett/PA)

Roy Hodgson’s reign proved short-lived after Liverpool won only one of their first eight games, against West Brom, and were in the relegation zone until a three-match winning run against Blackburn, Bolton and Chelsea.

Hodgson left them in 12th place in January, with Kenny Dalglish guiding them to sixth by the season’s end.

2012-13

Just two points came from the first five games, with four goals scored and 10 conceded, and though Luis Suarez’s hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Norwich stopped the rot, their only other wins in the first 12 came against Reading and Wigan.

They finished seventh but Tottenham, ninth-placed Swansea and West Ham (10th) were the only top-half teams they beat all season while eighth-placed West Brom did the double over Brendan Rodgers’ side.

2014-15

Liverpool lost six of their first 12 games for the only time in the Premier League, while aside from beating Tottenham 3-0 their other wins were by a single goal over Southampton, West Brom and QPR.

A sixth-placed finish kept Rodgers in post – but only until October of the following season when he was succeeded by Klopp.