One always has to put their money where their mouth is when discussing who is likely to win the league and it undoubtedly takes a brave person to dispute City’s claim to the throne given their complete and total domination last season. In the same breath, there can’t be any denying that this Liverpool side is as good as any team that has won the title in recent times.
When considering the strengths of Klopp’s Liverpool, one immediately thinks about the rampaging trio of Mane, Firmino, and the irresistible Salah. Quite rightly too as these three are arguably Europe’s most lethal attacking threat and the performance against West Ham signalled that they are ready to pick up from where they left off last season.
Back at it. ❤ pic.twitter.com/URq2hHjuwV
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 12, 2018
It’s not just Liverpool fans that enjoy watching their poetry in motion but also the neutrals. It’s a joy to watch with every move forward looking like it could result in a goal and so often it does. The speed of passing and precision on the final ball has one of the threesome repeatedly stabbing the ball into an empty net with the goalkeeper as well as defenders bamboozled and lying scattered across the box in complete bewilderment.
With an attack like this, you could justify that Liverpool are the team to beat this season purely because they will overrun everyone in their way but it’s their defence that needs mentioning. Klopp’s backline came under serious fire during the majority of last season for being too brittle but since the arrival of Van Dijk from Southampton, the stats make for compelling reading.
The towering Dutchman arrived in January and it didn’t take long for him to shore up the cracks. The Reds haven’t conceded a goal at home in the league since February and since that time have only seen seven scored against them on the road. When you combine Liverpool’s relentless attack with their new formidable defence, it’s easy to see why Klopp’s men may well be title winners at the end of the season.
The development of fullbacks Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have given the Reds fluid movement on the flanks when both attacking and defending. Their work rate and quality of final ball have given Liverpool a new dynamic that makes them virtually impossible to contain.
Klopp’s work in the transfer market has been exemplary with the big German manager using it to perfection. The holes that Liverpool used to have are no longer there after a pragmatic Klopp broke the bank to fix the issues that could hamstring his team. When you consider the contrasting fates of Liverpool and Arsenal in the transfer market you realize what an astute manager Klopp is.
Arsenal were as good as Liverpool going forward but refused to invest in their defence after many years of warning signs. The Gunners now find themselves reeling and the odds on Arsenal to win league 2019 are 64/1 after having skyrocketed on the Betfair Exchange. That could have so easily been Liverpool but Klopp acknowledged that there were weaknesses, addressed them and now it’s going to be a furious fight for the title.
Liverpool haven’t conceded a league goal at Anfield since February
Since making his Liverpool debut, no player has kept more clean sheets in the Premier League than Virgil van Dijk. pic.twitter.com/X2zYDKhQZ4
— Football Factly (@FootballFactly) August 14, 2018
When City arrived at the Emirates for the season’s opening victory against Arsenal, Sky Sports reported that the first thing members of the coaching staff asked was, what the score between Liverpool and West Ham was at Anfield? City know they are in for a scrap, make no mistake about that.
The final and most telling piece of information is that in the last three competitive meetings between Liverpool and City, the Reds have won all three and scored nine in the process. Not many managers, if any actually, hold the wood over Guardiola but Klopp seems to have taken the ascendancy. There’s nothing sensational or scandalous about it, Liverpool ought to be title favourites as things stand.
Liverpool have the last laugh at Napoli manager and star after nasty comments
The Reds beat their Italian rivals to march into the next round of the competition, and Alisson had the last laugh as he blocked Arkadiusz Milik’s stoppage-time effort.
All Napoli needed to do was avoid defeat, or lose by a one-goal margin after scoring at Anfield. However, some comments made by the manager and a star player will surely haunt them.
Carlo Ancelotti was the Chelsea manager earlier in his career and knows all about Liverpool, and the Mirror shared some of his quotes regarding this fixture from a month back.
The Italian was speaking after their win over Red Star on matchday five and was confident of making it through (h/t Mirror):
“We have been a real surprise in this group and I think those same people would be even more surprised if we manage to go through the next stage.
“If we don’t qualify instead we can call ourselves… a***holes.
“At this stage of the competition I truly believe that if we don’t qualify we should call ourselves a***holes.”
“My strongest memory is that they have a sign saying ‘This is Anfield’ and everyone was talking about it, so I was thinking it’s very big, you know,”
“I came through the tunnel and I asked, ‘Where is the thing?’ and they said you missed it and I hadn’t noticed it.
“So in the second half, I’m looking at this small thing and asking, ‘is this so special?'”
The last thing anyone needs to do is rile up Liverpool in a European game. Napoli, hopefully, have learnt their lesson now.
Liverpool interested in 18-year-old Championship starlet from Leeds United
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are doing very well in the Championship and sit second in the table as they look to gain promotion.
The forward has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs as the report adds that Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City are keeping tabs on the Englishman.
The report claims that Clarke signed his first professional contract when he turned 17 and is valid until 2021, hence the player will not come on the cheap.
Liverpool invested heavily in the summer window with four first-team players coming, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on our activity in January.
Jurgen Klopp has worked wonders with some of the youngsters at Liverpool, and Clarke’s development could be better under our youth team coaches.
It would be unlikely for Clarke to slot straight into our first-team as the Reds have a lot of competition in the midfield and attack.
The Reds lead the Premier League after 16 games, and with the right investment in the side, we could make it a real title race against Manchester City.
Liverpool could face some tough sides in knockout round of the Champions League – but here is why they can beat them all
Liverpool did it the hard way, but they did it. The Merseyside club made it into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Napoli, and there were some heart-stopping moments along the way.
From Sadio Mane’s misses to Alisson’s big save in stoppage, this match certainly lived up to its billing and Anfield was a bundle of energy pushing the Reds towards victory.
In all honesty, Liverpool should have won this game by a comfortable margin, but things are never easy for us.
Our poor away form saw us lose all three group games not held at Anfield, and this played a huge role in us finishing second in the group behind PSG.
Last season, we topped the group and we got a decent tie in the first knockout game with a trip to Porto. Of course, the Estadio do Dragao is a difficult place to visit but we won the first-leg 5-0.
Expecting something similar seems a bit of a stretch, given who all we could face in the first knockout round.
Tough tie awaits Liverpool
Finishing second means we will face one of the other group winners in this season’s competition. We can’t face a Premier League side as UEFA rules prohibit same country teams meeting in the first knockout round, and our possible opponents could be:
Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto, Bayern Munich/Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid/Roma, Juventus.
That makes for some tough games, and if things work in our favour we could be drawn against a Porto or Ajax, but that’s wishful thinking.
There is another issue we have to keep in mind with Virgil van Dijk missing the first leg of the knockout round due to his yellow card against Napoli.
Liverpool have been excellent in the Premier League but their performances in Europe haven’t been outstanding this season.
However, to progress, they need to get some things right.
Liverpool need to tweak things to get the best out of the side
Jurgen Klopp has tweaked a lot with his formation this season, and it has worked more often than not. Shifting from the crazy heavy metal 4-3-3 last season, the German has deployed a safer 4-2-3-1 with Mohamed Salah leading the line and Roberto Firmino playing behind the Egyptian.
This pragmatic approach makes it difficult for teams to break us down but our attack isn’t as fluid as it was last season.
The Reds struggled with their 4-3-3 in Europe this season, and some of our worst displays actually came with this formation in use.
Looking at the opposition, only the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona should scare the Reds. We have a decent record against Borussia Dortmund with that magical night in the Europa League a couple of years ago.
Further, Bayern Munich aren’t the dominant force they were under Pep Guardiola and have already lost three Bundesliga games this season.
The Reds should keep playing their 4-2-3-1 formation and possibly field Naby Keita in behind Roberto Firmino.
The Guinea midfielder has the guile and ability to run past defences with his dribbling, while Firmino can stretch any defence with his movement.
Shifting Salah out wide to the right might be a risk after his exploits down the middle, but this makes us play similar to what we did last season.
The Egyptian was brilliant down the right against Napoli and he seems to be hitting form at the right moment.
The trio of attackers need to find their verve, and fortunately, we seem to be heading on the right track if the last few games are taken into consideration.
The midfield is where we should see more change with Fabinho starting more games in Europe alongside Jordan Henderson.
The Brazilian is a shield to our defence but is capable of threading the needle too. The pair of Fabinho and Keita have been picking up in recent games, and their partnership will be crucial in our Champions League run.
We have toned down the Gegenpressing in the first half of the season, but that surely has to change once we face some of the tougher sides.
The defence and our goalkeeper are possibly the best in England, and one of the best in Europe, so we aren’t worried about that.
The Reds are in great touch now, and qualifying for the knockout round will have given us more confidence.
We beat Napoli at home, we beat PSG at home, and frankly, we shouldn’t worry about who we face in the next round.
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