2019-20 will be remembered as the season when Liverpool won their first EPL (Premier League) title despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the suspension of the league for a few months. As we head into the 2020-21 season, it is safe to say that the world has still not come to terms from the deadly pandemic.
Nevertheless, Liverpool managed to steamroll their way to the EPL title last season by being head and shoulders above everyone else. Now that they have got the monkey off their back, the Reds will be out to defend their crown with pride and also look to conquer Europe along the way.
That said, Jurgen Klopp’s team can expect tougher competition this season as their rivals have left no stone unturned to close the gap between themselves and the defending EPL champions.
Chelsea and Manchester City have added several quality players to their ranks as they hope to challenge Liverpool for the EPL title. But if Liverpool pick up from where they had left off last season, this season could soon turn out to be a race for the consolation prizes for the rest.
Ahead of Liverpool’s maiden EPL title defence, here are three things we can expect from the Reds this season:
#1: A good start to the season will be pivotal for Liverpool’s EPL ambitions
From the moment Liverpool walks out to the pitch to face Leeds United in their first game of the new EPL season, they will be under pressure to replicate the kind of performances that led them to glory last season. The Reds have their task cut out in the initial weeks of the new campaign.
The champions might still be on cloud nine after getting their hands on the EPL title last season, but they need to reset quickly and start from scratch. However, playing on the opening day of the season allows the club to get a headstart on the competition.
Liverpool open their EPL title defence against a Leeds United side that is riding high on confidence after being promoted to the Premier League for the first time since the 2003-04 season. Under the stewardship of Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds could well give Liverpool a run for their money with their high-pressing brand of football.
The Anfield-based team then visit Stamford Bridge next week to take on Chelsea in the first heavyweight clash of the EPL season. Frank Lampard has added some world-class players to his squad and will be eager to see how they perform against the best club team in the country.
With Klopp’s team starting the new season with three tricky encounters, their performances in these games will go a long way in determining their aspirations for the rest of the domestic campaign. Liverpool will have to be at their very best right from the start if they wish to successfully defend their EPL title.
#2: Liverpool’s lack of new signings could be justified as the season goes on
After clinching the EPL title last season, Klopp has chosen not to make any significant additions to his squad during the ongoing transfer window. While that decision might come as a surprise to some, it does make sense.
Last season, Klopp figured out his best starting-eleven that led Liverpool to glory and will hope that they would do an encore this time around as well. As we head into the final few weeks of the transfer window, Liverpool have only added Greek defender Konstantinos Tsimikas to their ranks so far.
Though the club are said to be in talks to sign Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich, there will not be too many other significant additions to the squad in the coming weeks. If Alcantara does join Liverpool, he will mostly be a like-for-like replacement for Gini Wijnaldum who is expected to leave for Barcelona.
Liverpool might look like they lack depth in their ranks, but they can give the likes of Mohammad Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané a break as the season goes on by playing Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri.
The only area where Liverpool are running a risk is in defence, though. If either of Virgil Van Dijk or Alisson Becker picks up an injury during the season, the club lack quality replacements who could fill in for them. Joe Gomez and Adrian are good backup options, but neither of them is good enough to be a regular feature in a team that is looking to rule the country and the continent.
#3: The best might not have come yet for Liverpool
Given how superior Liverpool were compared to everyone else in the EPL last season, they should simply be looking to maintain those levels of performances this season as well. Easier said than done, Liverpool’s competition this year will not only come from the other teams in the league but also from meeting the lofty standards that they set for themselves during the last campaign.
As far as their possible objectives for the new season are concerned, Liverpool will also be looking to conquer Europe by claiming their seventh UEFA Champions League title. Once the continental competition gets underway, the Reds will have to find a way to hold their own in both the EPL and the Champions League.
Liverpool will, however, have to cope with the continued absence of their boisterous fans at Anfield for at least the foreseeable future, owing to the ongoing pandemic.
With the Anfield faithful always proving to be a driving force for the team, Liverpool can be rest assured that their fans will be cheering them on from the comfort of their homes around the world. Whenever the fans would be allowed to return to the stadium, they will hope to see their beloved team ruling in both the EPL and the Champions League.Published 12 Sep 2020, 20:07 IST