Premier League Top Six Preview: Liverpool

Liverpool were very active in the transfer window this summer with Jurgen Klopp using the Coutinho transfer money in addition to a generously allocated budget from the owners, to address areas of weakness in his squad. He has strengthened key areas of the pitch now and has also managed to hold onto the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane making his Liverpool side strong favourites to not only end their six-year trophy drought but also their long-lasting wait for a Premier League title. 

The Champions League final heartbreak now seems in the distant past for Liverpool fans and the haunting memories of goalkeeping errors not only in that game but the past few seasons with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius may well be over. The arrival of Alisson Becker for a record goalkeeper transfer fee has excited Liverpool fans because their biggest weakness has just become one of their biggest strengths. Liverpool have never struggled to score goals whether it was with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard or now with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, it has never been a problem. Their problem has always lied defensively, the likes of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho have all been first choice centre-backs for Liverpool in the past few seasons and it has cost them trophies.

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Since taking over in October 2015, Jurgen Klopp has led a rather weak Liverpool side to three cup finals. In his first season he reached both the League Cup and Europa League final with a squad that he had inherited from Brendan Rodgers midway through the season. He lost both and then recently guided Liverpool on a miraculous run to the Champions League final where they lost again thanks to errors from Loris Karius and a freak Gareth Bale goal. This isn’t necessarily a problem for Liverpool though, because it shows that Klopp has the managerial ability to guide a squad to a final but once they get there, they lack the quality up against the very best opposition. Now, with a much-improved side and potentially their best side of the Premier League era, they look set for a memorable campaign.

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The well known “It’s Our Year” phrase mocked upon Liverpool fans by rivals could actually be a reality this season and there’s strong reason to believe so. Firstly, the arrival of Alisson Becker is huge for Liverpool. Towards the end of last season, it was clear that Virgil van Dijk had massively improved the Liverpool defence and the players around him, he makes Dejan Lovren look good and he has allowed the inexperienced Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to thrive in the toughest of matches. Secondly, the midfield which now consists of Naby Keita and Fabinho who both add a whole new level of quality to a midfield that previously consisted of James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson. This will drive them to have creativity, solidity and defensive cover all provided by £40-50 million signings. Lastly, the attack which still consists of the deadly trio that we saw last season but now has Xherdan Shaqiri and the returning Daniel Sturridge as backup options.

Liverpool appear to be a threatening side but they still have certain weaknesses. The centre-back partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren came good last season and they both played brilliantly but they have no cover. The next centre-back in line is Joel Matip and then Ragnar Klavan and both of those two simply aren’t good enough for Liverpool. Another major weakness is that they still haven’t replaced Coutinho and while Naby Keita will offer similar attributes, he will act more as a box to box midfielder rather than a number 10. If Liverpool had brought in a new centre-back and then also a number 10 like Nabil Fekir then they would have been even stronger title contenders.

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Overall, Liverpool have a lineup full of quality and while they still lack in some departments of the squad, I think Jurgen Klopp’s expertise will help guide them to silverware. I do still think Manchester City have the edge for the title with the experience and world-class talent scattered through their squad but Liverpool will certainly challenge them all the way and the pressure on Manchester City could work in Liverpool’s favour.

  • 2018/19 Predicted Finish: 2nd (+2)
  • Premier League Title Chance: 8/10
  • Other Silverware Chance: 8/10
  • Predicted Top Scorer: Mohamed Salah
  • Predicted Player of the Season: Naby Keita
  • Major Strength: Front Three
  • Major Weakness: Defensive Depth

I think Liverpool have similar chances to win trophies this season to Manchester City and I could very well see this season as a two-horse race between them. Jurgen Klopp has shown how well knockout football, especially across two legs, suits his style of play and if he doesn’t get his hands on the Premier League trophy this season then I think he will get his hands on something else, maybe one of the domestic cups assuming that the Champions League trophy is still slightly out of reach. Let us know what you think about Liverpool’s trophy chances by tweeting @AllOutFootball_ using #AOF.