The Premier League title race looks set to be as tight as ever this season, with the top six currently separated by just a few points. Though it’s still early days, at this rate we could be looking at the closest fight for the title in Premier League history.
Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United are all in serious contention for the trophy and there’s a strong argument to be made for each of them becoming champions this season.
City remain the bookies’ favourites to successfully defend their Premier League crown at odds of roughly 10/11, with Chelsea and Liverpool not too far behind at around 5/2 and 7/2 respectively.
If you’re considering having a flutter on which team will win the league this season, you’d be wise to choose from these bookies to make your selection from, as they’re offering the best odds.
Liverpool have made a strong start to the season, and were the only side to remain unbeaten in the competition after eight games. However, questions have been raised over an issue that has existed for a couple of seasons now; the depth of the Liverpool squad.
Last season in particular, Jurgen Klopp found himself with limited options in quite a few positions, largely because of a swathe of injuries.
The summer transfer window was a quiet one for the Kop, with Ibrahima Konate the only signing of note and the likes of Gini Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri permanently moving elsewhere.
With the club involved in four separate competitions this season, some are concerned that there is not enough depth to withstand such a rigorous schedule, particularly over the notoriously challenging Christmas period.
Conversely, their closest title competitors – Chelsea and City – have noticeably deep squads with top-tier selections and backups in most positions. This is, in part, because they have simply spent more; since 2012, City have spent a reported £1.44bn on new signings, with Chelsea closely behind at a tally of £1.39bn on transfers. This compares to the £910m spent by Liverpool.
Match fitness could prove to be the deciding factor for Liverpool’s title hopes this season. There are a few areas where they look a little vulnerable, particularly in midfield and upfront.
Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are both excellent midfielders but they’ve not been as reliable in terms of fitness as Klopp would have hoped. Between them, they’ve made just 52 league starts over the past three seasons, from a combined potential of 228 matches.
If either of them were to be sidelined this season, Liverpool could face issues in the centre of the pitch. This is a particular concern considering other options in the area such as Thiago Alcantara, James Milner and Jordan Henderson are all past the age of 30 and have had injury woes of their own in the past.
However, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones are developing into terrific players and while they’re probably not quite ready for consistent first-team action, they certainly represent capable options for Klopp to call upon.
Where Liverpool arguably lack high-quality depth the most is upfront. Their talisman, Mo Salah, is one of the best players in the sport but cannot and should not be relied upon to solely produce results, particularly when you look at the stacked forward lines of Chelsea, City and United.
The likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Divock Origi are proven commodities and present threats to any defence, but an injury or two would leave Liverpool lacking somewhat upfront.
That being said, the Kop still boasts the sixth most valuable squad in Europe, according to analysis from the CIES Football Observatory, with an approximate value of £742m.
Plus, across the various competitions they’ve played matches in so far this season, Klopp has managed to rotate the starting XI effectively, resulting in some big results such as their Champions League victory over Atletico Madrid.
Such rotation hasn’t been possible in recent seasons because of injuries but, with more players now match-ready, Klopp can switch things up when he needs to and the players have come through when it’s counted.
They’ve also maintained chemistry and cohesion despite these frequent changes to the lineup, conveying a versatility and adaptability that few other clubs can match.
While, on paper, it may seem Liverpool might suffer from a shallower squad this season compared to their closest rivals, they’ve already proven that they can win points with various different starting lineups, and they still boast some of the most exciting talent in the Premier League.