It was a great summer for Liverpool, who wasted no time in moving on from their Champions League final defeat in late May, snapping Brazilian versatile defender and midfielder Fabinho within 48 hours of that night in Kiev thereby moving thoughts swiftly to the future, rather than weeping in the demise of that loss.
The artful accession of Xherdan Shaqiri for about £13.5m has added depth in attack, while the signing of Alisson in goal has given Jurgen Klopp’s side the look of strength in all areas. There are no obvious weaknesses in the side.
A title challenge is expected but what can we expect from Klopp’s side in 2018/19?
Concede fewer than 40 league goals
Last season, Liverpool leaked fewer than 40 goals in the Premier League for the first time since the 2009/2010 season – quite extraordinary for a team with ambitions of winning the title. Amazingly, after the Reds’ 4-1 heavy defeat at the mercy of Tottenham in October, they bragged of the best defensive record in the EPL till the remainder of the season (22 goals conceded in 29 games followed by Manchester City who bottled 23).
The arrival of Virgil van Dijk was a great significance in the heart of the defence, especially as the Dutchman created a strong relationship with Dejan Lovren and seemingly got the best out of the Croatian. With Van Dijk now firmly established, Liverpool must carry that strong defensive work through a full campaign with Alisson in co-operative synergy.
The additions of dynamic midfielders Fabinho and Naby Keita will also come off; the former will likely play a deep-lying role, forming a resolute defensive diamond in front of Alisson. Keita, with his ability to win possession high up the pitch and turn the ball over in admirable fashion in midfield, will add another defensive screen.
Mane, Salah, Firmino should garner 20+ goals
Last season, Liverpool’s vivacious front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino summed 91 goals in all competitions. Mané’s goal in the Champions League final gave him 20 goals, adding to Salah’s incredible 44-goal tally and Firmino’s 27. It’s gloomy that Salah will match his record-breaking achievements of last season, though. As long as none of the trio suffers a lengthy injury, all will hit 20+ goals this season.
A Champions League quarter-final (at least)
With their history and character in the classy competition, the Merseyside club will hope to get to the last eight or even pass that milestone. Few pundits predicted Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final last season, but given their A-game to dismiss any side in Europe with Klopp’s high-energy, thrilling football, it was expected.
The additional intensity in depth and experience in the squad following that run to the final, Liverpool will demolish any side in Europe this season. Not since 2009 have they made it to the quarterfinal of the Champions League in successive seasons, but they also have good prospects of it repeating the same feat a decade on.
This article was written by Alex Ndace; he tweets via @AlexNdace
Culled from Issue 21