After challenging all fronts during the 2021/22 season, Liverpool surprisingly failed to showcase their best last term, finishing fifth in the Premier League as a consequence of that, they have missed out on qualifying for the Champions League this season.
The Merseyside club’s ageing midfield was reportedly the main issue behind their downfall last season so Jurgen Klopp decided to revamp the midfield department in the recently concluded summer window.
It initially looked like Liverpool were planning to sign three midfielders after letting Naby Keita, Alex Olexlade-Chamberlain and James Milner leave the club.
However, the sudden departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia forced the Reds to sign a fourth midfield option. Liverpool eventually managed to sign Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch this summer.
Holding midfield position
It was thought that the Merseyside club were keen on signing a new deep-lying playmaker after selling Fabinho and even formalised their interest in Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia. However, after missing out on signing both of them, Liverpool opted to sign Endo from Stuttgart.
Although the Japanese is highly regarded in the Bundesliga, he hasn’t proved his worth at the highest level yet. So, the number six position is looking a bit weak for Liverpool at the moment. Mac Allister can play in that role and has played there in the first few games, but he is more comfortable playing in the box-to-box role.
Szoboszlai has impressed the most among the players – who moved to Anfield this summer, though Gravenberch hasn’t played a single minute yet after joining the club on deadline day.
The Hungarian explosiveness, dynamism, technique and willingness to work hard off the ball have made him the fan favourite already and he seems to be the exact type of player that suits Klopp’s high-pressing system.
Jurgen Klopp likes to deploy a high-pressing and high-intensity style of football. Using hard-working midfielders is the fundamental part of his system and he enjoyed the most success at Liverpool with a midfield trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
However, Klopp has tweaked his system a bit in recent times and has started to use a creative player with two more hard-working midfielders in his midfield trio. The German boss previously signed Thiago Alcántara and enjoyed a bit of success in that new system but is yet to win a big achievement.
Mac Allister and Gravenberch are similar creative players but they are more mobile than Thiago so they should provide creativity with the ball and also the intensity without possession.
The start of the season
Supporters were eagerly anticipating the new season after overhauling their midfield. Anfield has been a sell-out well ahead of games, and while fans can buy Liverpool FC tickets at Seatsnet.com, demand is still extremely high for all matches this season.
However, performance-wise Liverpool haven’t had a great start to this season as they showcased vulnerability in the first three games against Chelsea, Bournemouth and Newcastle United, though they managed to accumulate 10 points from the first four games.
So, they have been able to earn the points by winning matches and that has so far covered up the Merseyside club’s issues. However, it is clear that Liverpool have certain frailties at the back and if they can’t rectify that problem then they may struggle this season as well.
Joel Matip and Joe Gomes struggled to showcase their best last season and they haven’t had a great start either this term. On the other hand, although Ibrahima Konate has showcased that he has the quality to become a top-class defender, he has been struggling with injury problems since moving to Anfield.
Virgil van Dijk hasn’t been at his best in recent years either, while Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive frailties are widely known. So, it was a real surprise that Liverpool didn’t look to sign at least a new defender to bolster their backline.
However, Liverpool’s high-pressing system helps the defence from facing many attacks and that’s the main USP of Klopp’s style of football. However, like last term, if they fail to put the energy in every game then their defence can be exposed brutally.
So, the Anfield club will be hoping that Klopp will be able to find the right solution with the ammunition he currently has to help the club challenge for the Premier League title this season.
Players generally take time to settle down in English football, especially when they come from abroad so Liverpool’s midfielders could take a bit of time. Top teams always pick during the business end of every season and the Reds fans will be hoping that they will be able to do that this campaign.
So, Liverpool can challenge for the Premier League title this season but their defensive issues could end up being the biggest stumbling block in their hopes of achieving that.
Mohamed Salah boost
Managing to keep hold of Salah is set to be a huge boost for Liverpool in their quest to win the league title this term.
Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad reportedly formalised their interest in signing the Egyptian and even tabled an official proposal worth around £150m.
Liverpool rejected that proposal as they were desperate to keep hold of Salah. But, it was reported that Nuno Espirito Santo’s side would return with an improved bid worth more than £200m to persuade Liverpool to cash-in on him.
But, they never submitted that offer so Liverpool have now managed to keep their key man at the club as the Saudi Arabian transfer window has now slammed shut.
Arsenal mounted a surprise title charge last term before falling just short in the final hurdle. They have strengthened their squad this summer and are looking like a more balanced squad at the moment than Liverpool’s so the Gunners are expected to be the closest challenger of Manchester City this term, not the Merseyside club.
After failing to finish in the top four last term, Liverpool’s primary objective for this season would be to qualify for the Champions League. However, Liverpool could opt to sign a new defender and an elite-level holding midfielder in January and that could transform their season completely.
They showed by tabling a £110m bid to sign Caicedo that they have the money to sign more players and they could look to add more firepower in January to help Klopp fight for the Premier League title this season.
So, in terms of Liverpool’s current squad, it doesn’t look like they have enough firepower to challenge for the Premier League title this term. However, things might change should they opt to resolve key issues in the January window. Therefore it is going to be interesting to see whether Liverpool can eventually manage to challenge for the league title this season.
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