Premier League 2019/20: Is this Liverpool’s year?
After a gap of 29 years, the dream of winning a league title is brewing again in the hearts of every Liverpool supporter. With Jurgen Klopp’s tactical brilliance, a majestic trio upfront and a solid defence, fans are sure that this is their year.
Liverpool started the 2018-19 season in sublime fashion and ended up winning the UEFA Champions League for the sixth time, more than any other English club, but failed to get their hands on the Premier League trophy as they were one point behind the defending champions Manchester City in a battle that went down to the very last matchday.
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool have never won a league title. Despite a disappointing history, Liverpool fans now believe their team can break the Premier League jinx.
The beginning of the turnaround
The whole turnaround of the club started with the arrival of their charismatic German coach Klopp in 2015. At a time when Steven Gerrard had just left and the memory of losing the title race, a year ago, were still haunting the club, Klopp started infusing energy and new talents in the team with a vision to achieve success in every tournament.
Although Liverpool didn’t achieve success overnight, smart transfer choices in the following years, after losing star players like Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho have contributed majorly to the development of a well-balanced side that we are witnessing today. The arrival of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk encapsulates the club’s amazing performance in the transfer market which also includes a world-class goalkeeper in Alisson Becker.
Despite the lack of cover for Van Dijk or Andy Robertson, Liverpool have a great depth in their squad. They have a lethal trio upfront in Mane, Roberto Firmino and Salah with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri providing an extra edge to the team.
Liverpool have a compact midfield and the manager also considers Adam Lallana a different option as he was deployed in a deeper midfield role in pre-season. Another candidate for the job of injecting more penetration and creativity into Liverpool’s midfield is Naby Keita and Klopp’s options are increased by the availability of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, following a long-term injury.
Joe Gomez is also back in the squad which means Fabinho is no longer required as a centre-back in the absence of Joel Matip. Klopp's footballing philosophy is mostly based on the counter-pressing style which puts more onus on the midfielders and playing Fabinho in his natural position with Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum will help the team get more favourable results. They are a side which plays with a CDM and the two centre-halves at the back and the rest can go wherever they want. That is not an ill-disciplined thing. That is organised. That is what causes all the problems to the other teams.
Liverpool is playing ruthless football at the moment, sitting at the top of the table with 15 points in five games; they have now won 14 successive Premier League matches. The Reds have also extended their unbeaten league run to 22 matches and their home record is nothing but astonishing as they haven’t lost a single home game in Premier League in more than two years.
Needless to say, they have learnt a great deal after losing a close title fight against Manchester City last season. Liverpool lost only one Premier League game in the previous season, but seven draws and Manchester City's 14-game winning spree were enough to keep them at bay.
City slip helps
The prospects of Liverpool winning the Premier League trophy are brighter than ever this season as they have a mature side with vast experience of playing football under pressure. On the other hand, Manchester City have had a poor start this season, losing five points after the first five games, which will eventually help Liverpool in the title race later on. Manchester City is currently sitting at second place in the points table with 10 points after Norwich City pulled off one of the biggest upsets of this season as they beat the defending champions 3-2 in a close encounter at Carrow Road.
The positive effect of losing a do-or-die battle against Manchester City last season is evident in Liverpool's game as they are now playing aggressively in every match.
Despite their first Premier League defeat since January, Manchester City will be a big challenge for Liverpool in their quest for the first league title and it will be interesting to see how the title race unfolds in the future.
Liverpool does have something to worry about in terms of past traumas as well. The painful memory of that infamous Gerrard slip is still lurking at the Anfield. The fitness and injury of the top players could prove crucial at the later stages of the league, which is popular for its ups and downs. Despite all these possible potholes, Liverpool have much to look forward to as they are now a serious title contender for that elusive title.