Connect in the back of the net

It has been twenty seven years since Liverpool last lifted the First Division title in the English top flight.

Since the glory days under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool have taken a back seat and watched a dominant Manchester United winning countless titles in the reformed Premier League.

Although Liverpool challenged on a rare occasion, they have been left behind by the likes of Arsenal, who challenged United in the late 90s, early 00s, while financially backed Chelsea and Manchester City have opposed the old guard in the last decade.

However, with the arrival of Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have re-emerged and look to pose a threat for the up and coming season. The question is though, is it finally Liverpool’s year for league glory?

 

A manager that can deliver

When Klopp arrived in October 2015, Liverpool fans rejoiced that they captured a man, capable of bringing the title back to Anfield.

Although his predecessor, Brendan Rodgers was inches of accomplishing this feat two seasons prior, Liverpool receded the following campaign and struggled to match the high standards from the 13/14 season. But with Klopp arriving on the scene, there is a sense of excitement for the future.

From his time at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp achieved back to back Bundesliga titles, a German cup and reached the Champions League final in 2013. This was seen as more impressive as Dortmund struggled financially throughout the mid-00s.

However, with Klopp’s shrewd transfer business and developing youth, Dortmund were able to form a collective team, who challenged Bayern Munich for the German crown.

Although Klopp ended his first season with two cup final defeats (League Cup and Europa League), it signified times were improving. He followed this up by finishing fourth the next season, which brought Liverpool back to the premiere of European football, the Champions League.

Now preparing for his second full season, Klopp has the experience of what to expect to win the Premier League.

 

A capable squad?

To be capable of winning the league, a team requires skilled and experienced players, who can manage the overwhelming pressure of consistency and ruthlessness in games throughout an extensive season.

For Liverpool, they do contain players with these attributes. One notable member is James Milner. Although not the most exciting player in the team, he is the most consistent, hardworking and probably the most underrated due to his performances going under the radar.

From his time at Manchester City, Milner has won two Premier League titles before departing to Anfield in the summer of 2015. His experience around the camp can energise the players to push for the title.

In midfield, Liverpool have Jordan Henderson and Emre Can to call upon.

Henderson has taking over the captain’s armband since Steven Gerrard’s departure in 2015 and has been consistent ever since. He made 3.7 tackles per game while having a passing success rate of 86%.

Emre Can on the other hand, provides stability in midfield, while posing an attacking threat, scoring 5 goals and providing 2 assists last season. His performances has him linked with a move to Juventus but Liverpool expect him to sign a new contract as they believe he is crucial for them going forward.

From the attacking perspective, Philippe Coutinho is another player that can make a difference.

Although linked with a summer move to Barcelona, Liverpool and Klopp expects Coutinho to stay as he would be a huge loss for Liverpool’s title ambition. Although, Coutinho does not have any league winner medals in his cabinet, he does attain the skills and qualities to push Liverpool to the next stage.

Coutinho ended last season with 13 league goals and contributed 7 assists, which accumulated over a quarter of Liverpool’s goals (69). A player of Coutinho’s stature would benefit any team in their charge for a title.

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are two other players capable of making a difference. Both scored double figures last season (13 and 11 respectively), while Mane was awarded Liverpool’s player of the season for his efforts.

Additionally, both players can either play on the wing or as forward, which allow player flexibility in terms of team formation. With the addition of Mohammad Salah from Roma, stiff competition will emerge next season between Coutinho, Firmino, Mane and Salah, which provides Klopp with more depth for his team, something he lacked last year due to injuries.

 

A new striker required?

With Liverpool linked with players in defence and midfield, they have not being actively looking for a new centre forward.

Although the media claimed they enquired for Kylian Mbappe and snapped up Dominic Solanke from Chelsea, Liverpool have not made a claim for a world class forward.

They do boast the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi in their ranks but the former has been on the treatment table for the last couple of seasons, whereas the latter has been in and out of the starting line-up, contributing 10 team goals (7 scored, 3 assists) last season.

This suggests Liverpool are lacking an all-out striker, who can hit the regular heights of 20 plus goals a season. With Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United bolstering their attack with expensive forwards, it does ask, do Liverpool require a stellar new striker of their own?

 

Lack of financial muscle?

With the likes of Manchester City, United and Chelsea spending over 100 million pounds each this season in attempt to win the league, one must ask will Liverpool miss out due to  their minimal spending.

Granted, Klopp is not known for spending excessively on players and rather develop youth or unknown players. Furthermore, the owners of Liverpool have splash the cash from time to time but in terms of their rivals, it has been minuscule.

Though they have brought in Salah for over 35 million pounds, it has been their only major expensive signing, with the likes of City, United and Chelsea spending that amount regularly on new squad players.

Although money does not always speak (Leicester City in 2016), one must ask themselves, can Liverpool deliver without spending excessively?

 

Verdict

From the gathered facts and findings, Liverpool’s chances of landing the title this season can be seen as 50/50.

From the positives, they have a world renowned manager, who is capable of upsetting the odds to land the title. Furthermore, Liverpool do have players in their ranks such Coutinho, Mane, Can and Firmino, who can influence Liverpool’s style of play and push them up the league table.

However, there are issues they need to address. One has been a lack of a recognised striker.

Although Origi has had an respectful season and is still only 22, Liverpool either need him to be firing from all cylinders from the word go or face the prospect of not having an all-out striker, who can score at will and can change the tide of games when needs be.

Moreover, Liverpool have spent less than their title rivals and although that does not necessary mean the title is already lost, it does entail that Liverpool’s rivals have a more in depth squad, something that was an issue for the reds last season.

 

Written by James Reidy

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