Liverpool 2017/18 Season Preview: Could this be their year?
Liverpool had a season of mighty ups and lowly downs but they more or less reached the shore they were sailing for. They alternated between being a team that could unsettle the juggernauts and one that were best suited to keeping their title fantasies to themselves while keeping their fingers crossed for a top four finish.
Their squad depth woes remain largely unaddressed and it will come as no surprise if Liverpool step on the gas in the closing weeks of the transfer window.
Under the tutelage of the 'Normal One', the Scousers will roll up at Anfield with the hopes that this might indeed be their year. Jurgen Klopp's side look promising and buzzing with the vigour of youth and will attempt to re-establish themselves as a force to reckon with in Europe.
Ins: Dominic Solanke (pending before tribunal), Mohamed Salah (£40m) and Andrew Robertson (£10m)
Liverpool have pulled off a clever move in landing Dominic Solanke (free agent) after he decided to leave Chelsea. The 19-year-old has been impressive in the pre-season and scored two goals, the latter being a stunning header against Athletic Bilbao. However, he will face stiff competition from the likes of Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp's side suffered a dip in form in the absence of Sadio Mane last season and the addition of Mohamed Salah whose attributes are almost identical to that of the Senegalese winger will fortify their attack. The Egyptian's pace and quick movements coupled with his ability in front of goal will ensure relentless pressure is applied from the flanks. The Premier League full backs are going to have a difficult time against Liverpool if their pre-season showings are anything to go by.
Robertson is young and it is quite obvious that we won't see the youngster's best for a couple more years. But if Moreno continues to be sub par and Milner has to assume midfield duties, Liverpool will occasionally hand the charge of the left wing to the 23-year-old.
Outs: Kevin Stewart (£8m), Lucas (£5m), Andre Wisdom (£2m) and Ryan Fulton (free)
Lucas' departure is a blow to Liverpool. The 30-year-old is a team player and the players will miss his presence in the dressing room.
Kevin Stewart's season started with promise but he couldn't keep it up and fell down the pecking order and was deemed surplus to requirements. It is unlikely that Liverpool will miss him much.
The defender Andre Wisdom and Ryan Fulton have been offloaded following their loan spells.
Probable starting XI
Klopp's system is built on lungs and legs that pack the power to blow the wind out of the oppositions' sails. Their high-pressing tactics have constantly unsettled opposing sides' momentum and enabled Liverpool to ensure a high shot suppression rate.
Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah share blistering pace and the ability to slalom past defenders.
Firmino's work-rate and technical ability make him a unique weapon. Meanwhile, Mane could very well be the player of the season for the Merseysiders. At his best, Mane is uncontainable and all the traits that make a quality winger will be on display in all their glory.
Coutinho will be their creative outlet in midfield and if he continues to roam around the final third and find those incisive passes, which have got Barcelona seeking his services, Liverpool will have no problems rattling the netting on a regular basis.
Wijnaldum's consistency will further power the inventiveness of Coutinho. Liverpool can expect similar returns this time around from the Dutchman who scored six goals and assisted nine times in the Premier League last term.
Henderson is one of the most reliable defensive midfielders in the Premier League and his belligerence and leadership will bring stability to the centre. His presence will be a calming presence to the still unsettled backline.
Liverpool are not a team that get flustered when confronted with big names. They had the best record against the top 6 last season and are likely to keep it up in the upcoming campaign.
Klopp will need to buckle down and spend some dough to strengthen his backline because sticking to their guns will surely drive them against a wall. Liverpool's set-piece woes will continue to cost them valuable points.
The van Dijk saga has been going on forever and the Reds need to stop moseying about and sign him up before Chelsea prise him away. The arrival of van Dijk could even inspire Lovren, Klavan and Matip to step up.
The left-back position which is likely to be occupied by Moreno is another source of worry for Klopp. If the Spaniard can perform like he did against Bayern Munich in the pre-season match, the Scousers will rest easy. Otherwise, they will have to resort to using a young Robertson, or ask Milner to step in.
The addition of another bulwark in midfield looks imperative as Champions League returns to Anfield this season. Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keita is evidence of the same. Henderson's game leaves us wanting more on the creative front and Liverpool will not want a leak in their wall in case he picks up an injury.
The fact that Barcelona are lurking to sign Coutinho is yet another headache. Liverpool have been able to ward them off so far. Klopp is confident that Coutinho will stay and the Brazilian has reportedly vowed to not force a move through if the club are not interested in selling him.
A reintegration of Sakho into the squad could help the Anfield outfit but Klopp is adamant about not giving him a chance.
The signing of Keita and van Dijk could make Liverpool contenders for the title this season. But their squad lacks depth as evidenced by Lucas Leiva stepping in to play centre back on six occasions last season.
Liverpool are ominous on their day but their Robinhood tendencies need to be curtailed. The lack of intent they exhibit against undaunting oppositions has to end or they will suffer like they did last term. The pounding could be even more severe with the added fatigue that comes with strutting their stuff in Europe's elite competition.
Right now, the kind of talent they pack is intimidating but they can't ride the same cart every day and not expect its wheels to get chafed. Ultimately, they'll need to bolster their ranks and if they do it efficiently, Liverpool will have the muscle to threaten and maybe even make the throne theirs this season. But if that does not happen, the story of This will be our season will wend its way to the next.
Predicted Position: 3rd