Liverpool begin the Premier League season with a lot of hope pinned on the team. No European distractions means the side is expected to finish in the top 4 with many even expecting the side to make a title challenge. It is a recurring pattern as a Liverpool fan – a season outside the Champions League but plenty of optimism for the next season. This year, however, the presence of a top class manager in Jurgen Klopp means there is plenty of reason for optimism. Since taking over in October last year, Klopp managed to take the Reds to two cup finals. He has had a full preseason under his belt and in the summer window, he has made the additions which he thinks are necessary for the Reds in their quest for success. He has also had time to work on tactics and player development which means Liverpool are in a much better shape than they were last season when he was called to replace Brendan Rodgers.
The transfer business has been positive from the Reds with many problems addressed this summer. There was a severe lack of pace in the side and Sadio Mané’s signing should positively change that. The midfield was also overrun a lot last season and adding Giorginio Wijnaldum shows Klopp has identified this problem and is keen on making amends. Defence has been an issue for a lot of years now and the addition of Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and importantly, goalkeeper Loris Karius means the Reds will do better at the back.
There is little doubt that the players Klopp has at his disposal are very talented. The only problem here could be consistency. Too often, many of the players have had an erratic season and haven’t put on consistent performances. Philippe Coutinho is a wonderful example of the same. Called the “brain” of the team, Coutinho is extremely talented and truly is a magician on good days but he is equally guilty of putting on underwhelming performances for chunks of the season. Similarly, Klopp possesses a lethal attacking arsenal in Coutinho, Firmino, Mané and Sturridge but these players need to ensure they are able to perform consistently and don’t go missing on crucial occasions.
Another problem that could prove detrimental is injuries. Injury to key players, might hamper a string of good results. However, Liverpool do have quality in depth in case that happens so predicting the former might be erroneous. For example, in the previous seasons, an injury to Sturridge has caused panic for the Reds. However, the presence of talented strikers in Divock Origi and Danny Ings means this probably wouldn’t be an issue.
Liverpool arguably have the toughest start to the season and it is crucial the Reds don’t drop too many points. Considering how well the pre-season went, it is difficult to envision them struggling too much as well but competition this season is going to be immense with most teams looking the strongest they have in years.
Klopp has mostly preferred to use the 4-3-3 system with Liverpool this pre-season and the signings made by the club also suggest that this is the formation he is going to largely employ this season. The back four of Clyne, Klavan, Lovren and Moreno picks itself for the first tie with Mignolet in goal. Klopp wants his midfielders, all his players in fact, to have the ability to win possession by pressing and pressuring the opponents, break attacks and quickly move the ball forward into threatening positions. Last season, with Jordan Henderson’s injury woes and declining form; James Milner’s limitations in the midfield, Klopp was not able to carry this out, but the signing of Wijnaldum especially points to the fact that the Reds will be lined up in this system. Emre Can is the only player who has a nailed on spot in the team and will start in the holding role with two of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Marko Grujic or Giroginio Wijnaldum in front of him. Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho can also be used as the most attacking midfielder in a trident. Klopp has a number of explosive attackers in the team in Coutinho, Firmino and Mané who are expected to lead the Liverpool attack as the front three for the opening game against Arsenal with Daniel Sturridge missing the tie with an injury. Like mentioned before, Klopp also has Origi and Ings to choose from for his striker options.
It’s a possibility that Liverpool can find themselves in the business end of the table at the end of the season if they replicate the form they have shown in a number of games under Klopp. The main aim for the German manager, however, would be to see genuine progress and for his style and tactics to be firmly established. Realistically, Liverpool are expected to finish in the 5th place but they have the potential to do even better.