Table Review: 4th, 75 points, 21 Wins, 12 Draws, 5 Losses, Goals For: 84, Goals Against: 38, Goal Difference: +46.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Top Scorer: Mohammed Salah, 32 Goals
Liverpool’s season contained much promise. Mohammed Salah was a revelation, as the mercurial winger broke the record for most goals in a Premier League season. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, along with Salah, combined as an attacking trio superbly. Even the loss of Philippe Coutinho, who signed with Barcelona in January, didn’t halt the progress of Liverpool’s rampant offense.
Yet, it was a familiar story for Liverpool, as far as title ambitions came. Despite all the promise, they failed to solve their defensive woes. Of the top four, Liverpool conceded 38 goals, placing them fourth amongst the UCL qualifiers. The signing of Virgil van Dijk was a positive step, but the same issues remained. Ultimately, injuries and a focus on the Champions League saw Liverpool slip towards the bottom of the four.
Overall, Klopp had Liverpool trending in the right direction in 2018-19. Holes in the squad, particularly in the midfield and in attacking depth, were sore points.
IN: Alisson – GK – €62.75M, Naby Keita – CM – €60M, Fabinho – CM – €45M, Xherdan Shaqiri – RW – €14.75M, Daniel Sturridge – ST – Loan Return, Divock Origi – ST – Loan Return
OUT: Danny Ward – GK – €14M, Emre Can – CM – Free, Danny Ings – ST – Loan
The big signing, Alisson, is sure to delight Liverpool fans. After Lois Karius’ disastrous Champions League Final, confidence in the German’s ability has never been lower. Klopp moved swiftly, bringing in the former Roma keeper and current Brazil number one, for a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper. Naby Keita joined from Red Bull Leipzig, having been purchased last season. Liverpool also brought in Fabinho, a defensive midfielder, to add some grit to an already robust midfield rotation.
Whilst the three big names in Alisson, Keita and Fabinho caused the most waves, it was other moves that will make a large impact in a long and grueling season. Xherdan Shaqiri was brought in to provide attacking depth, and was also used as an attacking midfielder in the preseason. The returns of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge will ensure that Firmino, Mane and Salah are able to be rotated.
Perhaps the only flaw was the failure to bring in a world-class partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defense. Should Joel Matip return to full fitness, Liverpool have a solid pairing nonetheless. In what was a largely successful window for the Reds, the squad looks ready to challenge for silverware on all fronts in 2018-19.
Predicted Starting XI
Alisson, Fabinho and Keita will all slot into Klopp’s preferred XI, almost immediately. Expect Karius and James Milner to drop to the bench, with Emre Can now plying his trade for Juventus. Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold represent good attacking quality from the flanks, but will leave susceptibility in defense at times.
Fabinho, Henderson and Keita, ably backed up by Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, will fuel a strong midfield, capable of supporting both attack and defense. The Fab Three, Mane, Firmino and Salah will look to repeat their form from last season.
Squad weaknesses include a lack of depth. Should Robertson or Matip/van Dijk suffer injury, backup options will likely fail to perform at a suitable standard. Another option on the wing, as well as Shaqiri, may prove necessary as the season goes on. Nonetheless, the squad shapes up as a strong unit. It’s up to Jurgen Klopp to make the next step.
Table Prediction: 2nd, 86 points, 26 Wins, 8 Draws, 4 Losses, Goals For: 87, Goals Against: 33, Goal Difference: +44.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp
Top Scorer: Mohammed Salah, 24 Goals
Pace. Dynamism. Ethic. Talent. Liverpool possess all in spades. One just has to look at the front three to see the basis for what could make this team so special. In this squad, Jurgen Klopp can finally attempt to make that next step. To push on to a greater achievement.
Although this is a truly great squad, I can’t see them coming over the top of last season’s champions. That doesn’t mean that silverware is out of the question, but the season is long. Consistency is key. In past seasons, Liverpool have not been able to maintain an elite level for long enough. Still, Liverpool have the potential to go all the way in 2018-19.
When it comes to a Premier League season, any stumble is costly. Could Liverpool avoid yet another slip up?
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