Will Merseyside have a bigger say in the Premier League this season?
Ever since the competition came into being, the Premier League has been a tale of two cities: Manchester and London. Since its inception in 1992, Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers are the only non-London and non-Manchester clubs to lay their hands on the Premier League trophy.
While the Merseyside clubs, Liverpool and Everton have mounted title challenges, they’ve never been able to sustain it to win the crown. However, the sun seems to be shining brighter in Merseyside this time round and they look destined to play a bigger role in the title picture.
Everton had a tumultuous 2017-18 season as they sacked Ronald Koeman in October after a string of poor results. Though Allardyce steadied the ship and guided them to the 8th place, Everton looked far from their usual self. In the summer, the club appointed Marco Silva at the helm in order to have a crack at the European spots.
Silva is an astute manager and enjoyed promising spells with Hull City and Watford. He had a good transfer window for Everton as he got rid of all the deadweight in the squad while making shrewd acquisitions.
Everton went shopping in Barcelona and got hold of Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes. In addition to these three, Everton broke the bank to sign the enigmatic Richarlison from Watford.
While Mina, Digne and Gomes are proven talents, Richarlison is a gamble. However, Richarlison produced his best football under Silva at Watford and the duo would look for similar results at Everton.
Having spent close to a hundred million pounds in the market, the Toffees seem to have assembled a good enough squad to have a tilt at the top six. They drew their first game against the Wolves but they displayed great character to end on level terms despite being a man down.
The 2018-19 season holds a lot of promise for Everton and the Goodison Park faithful would hope that they have a much bigger say in the Premier League than in the years gone by.
Despite all of Everton’s potential heading into the new season, the red half of Merseyside is clearly more upbeat about their chances and for good reason.
Klopp has entered his 3rd season as Liverpool manager and looks primed for a sustained title charge. Liverpool were the winners of the transfer window as they ironed out their deficiencies while strengthening other areas of the pitch.
Towards the end of last season, it had become increasingly clear that Liverpool needed another midfielder and a reliable goalkeeper to harbour any hopes of an assault on the title. They identified their targets early and brought in Fabinho and Alisson in addition to the expected arrival of Keita.
Liverpool’s front three is one of the most devastating trios in world football. Hence, finding a player willing to play second fiddle to them would have been an arduous task. Klopp worked his magic and got Shaqiri on board. Though Shaqiri can frustrate at times, on his day, he is simply unplayable.
Liverpool started off the season in blistering fashion as they put four goals past a hapless West Ham United. Keita ran the show from midfield and Salah and Mane chipped in with the goals. However, the most refreshing aspect of the game would have been Liverpool’s ability to keep a clean sheet. On many an occasion before, they have suffered due to their defensive shortcomings.
After a couple of years in charge, Klopp has finally got his Liverpool side ‘pressing’ the way he would want. It was on display on Sunday when they hassled and harried the West Ham defenders into making mistakes.
To supplement this, Liverpool have a very good record against the Premier League’s other big boys. They were one of the only two teams to beat Manchester City. The only weakness City seem to have is against teams that press efficiently.
Though Arsenal lost the game comfortably, they were able to trouble City with their urgent ‘pressing’. At this juncture, Liverpool ‘press’ better than Arsenal. Thus, Liverpool would be the opposition that Pep would fear above all the others.
Liverpool haven’t been involved in a title race since that infamous Steven Gerrard slip in 2014. However, evidence seems to suggest that it could be about to change. Klopp, the German who was brought in to re-establish Liverpool as a force, could end up pleasing the Kop.
The Premier League, which has been a tale of two cities might just end up becoming a battle of three cities. Unless Liverpool let it ‘slip’, they look set to have an enormous say in where the Premier League ends up, come May 2019.