Liverpool's title chances: Is it too early to celebrate?
As the 2017/18 Premier League campaign drew to a close, we saw Manchester City finish miles ahead of their closest title rivals. One club seems to have stepped up to the Citizens' challenge: Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp has taken every piece of criticism about his side and turned it into what he's receiving praise for this time around.
"A defence that leaks more than it should," they said. Alisson Becker was unveiled as a world-record £66.9m signing over the summer as Klopp's new first-choice goalkeeper. In addition, the rise of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as a centre-back pairing has proven a force to be reckoned with, ensuring Liverpool's standing as the best defensive side going into Christmas.
The statistics don't lie either: 11 clean sheets and just seven goals conceded after 18 matches.
Improving their midfield options with savvy transfer business
"A shallow midfield," they said. With the influential Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sidelined long-term, the Reds' boss has had to tap into the transfer market to develop his midfield further.
Snatching Xherdan Shaqiri from relegated Stoke, signing Monaco's Fabinho for £40m as well as Naby Keita - who we're yet to witness at his best - just proves they are now spoiled for choice just where they need to have competition for places, in midfield.
An attack which never runs out of options, Liverpool's iconic front three are now bolstered by taking advantage of Klopp's modus operandi: the gegenpress. Unlocking both flanks, wing-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are increasingly becoming important on both ends of the pitch.
While the Merseyside club appear on track to win this season's title, the situation seems eerily reminiscent of the 2013/14 campaign. This was the season where Liverpool turned out to become the only club to fail to win the league, having been on top of the table at Christmas.
Four years have passed since then, but the ghosts of that unfortunate season continue to haunt their supporters. All their hopes would be that this season is not a repeat performance - times have changed, and so have Liverpool.