Jurgen Klopp and his strengthened Liverpool side seem to be on somewhat of a hot streak- they’ve started the season sensationally, with away victories against both Arsenal and Chelsea, along with a 4-1 thumping of the current Premier League champions, Leicester City. After such a vibrant start, is it acceptable to be expecting Liverpool to challenge for the trophy that the club have been craving for since 1990? This season could be one of the best opportunities they will have of doing just that with no European Football to contend with.
For any side to face Arsenal at the Emirates in their first League game of the season is daunting to say the least- but Liverpool thrived and hit 4 past Arsene Wenger’s side to wake up the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri. Impressive performances from Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and many others have really stood out, but was this incredible start likely to be maintained in the future against the Premier Leagues top sides? Well it certainly seems so. In the last two games, as already stated, Liverpool have humbled the Champions Leicester, as well as more recently, Chelsea, consequently finding themselves on 10 points after 5 games and within touching distance of the table toppers, Manchester City.
The media and fans alike are all talking about how sharp, energetic and dedicated the Liverpool squad currently look. In each of the League games this season, they’ve provided Arsenal, Leicester, Burnley, Tottenham and Chelsea with very limited time on the ball and looked superb in their closing down and break up play. But will this frantic and energetic style effect the team in a negative manner as the season rolls on? Well in my opinion it won’t. Liverpool have no other competition to contend with. The League Cup is a marvelous opportunity to showcase the young talent that the Reds currently possess, while the FA Cup could be used in a similar fashion. There’s no Europa League Football this season which is a positive- playing in the said competition and travelling around Europe for pointless Thursday night fixtures isn’t something a title challenging side needs to be dealing with. The likes Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester all have a considerable amount of games more to play than that of Liverpool, meaning fatigue shouldn’t be an issue heading into the March, April and May months. It’s also worth noting that key players such as James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne featured in over 50 games last season, which can be tough on a player. Realistically, the same players should be clocking up around 40 appearances if they remain injury free this campaign.
Eyebrows were raised during the summer transfer window, Liverpool opted to raid Southampton once again, this time for Sadio Mane. Mane, who found the net against Arsenal, also scored in spectacular fashion against Leicester at Anfield and many regard the former Saints man as one of the most important pieces to Klopp’s Liverpool puzzle. The forward, who can operate on the flank or up top, seems to have all the qualities of a quick poacher and clinical goalscorer all rolled into one. Another of the summer signings came in the form of Georginio Wijnaldum, who’s settled into his deep laying midfield role superbly over the first few games of the season. Wijnaldum likes to cover ground, and I was shocked to find out that on average, he covered more distance per game (10.1km) than Jordan Henderson (9.7km) did last season- suiting Klopp’s hardworking and tireless style of play down to the ground.
So, to Jurgen Klopp’s benefit, Liverpool are now faced with the prospect of a full season where they are able to channel their sole concentration into the 1, or at most 2, Premier League fixtures per week and it’s looking good so far. In October, the Red’s square off in the hugely anticipated tie against Manchester United at Anfield in the Monday Night Football- interestingly, United will be hosting Fenerbache in the Europa League just 3 days later, while Liverpool don’t have another game until the following Saturday. Will Mourinho have one eye on his Europa League tie on the Thursday? Well the advantage is certainly with Klopp and it’s a match I can’t see Liverpool losing.