We’re inching ever-closer to the start of the 2019/20 Premier League, with Jurgen Klopp’s men opening the season on Friday 9th August against newly-promoted Norwich City.
While the Champions League victors may not feel overly anxious about the prospect of the promoted Championship winners, everyone will be keen to show they can continue the glittering form of the previous season. Liverpool have once again cemented their status as a team to fear, but Pep Guardiola and Manchester City were putting out similarly scintillating performances last season, making it a fascinating, if frustrating, tussle to the final day. A fantastic era for English football, but what will separate these clubs and put Liverpool on top?
Bookmaker William Hill has champions Man City as 8/15 favourites with Liverpool hot on their heels as second favourites with odds of 5/2. Such fine margins sound familiar to Reds fans, don’t they? 2018/19 was a record-breaking season with Liverpool and City combining to create the most points accumulated from a top two ever with 195. Trent Alexander-Arnold even notched up the most assists ever from a defender in an outstanding personal campaign.
Although being in the record books is always great, The Reds finished just one point adrift of City after a stellar season – a season brimming with form that in any other year would have won them the title. So how can Klopp tip the balance in Liverpool’s favour for the upcoming season?
It’s a difficult question to answer when looking at how to improve such a successful squad. However, Liverpool legend and former centre-back Jamie Carragher recently told Pundit Arena that The Reds could do with adding a creative player to the mix. This was in direct reference to re-signing former Anfield favourite Philippe Coutinho after his well-documented troubles at Barcelona.
While many fans may not have been happy with his departure, he’s undoubtedly world-class. However, unfortunately for anyone wishing for his return, Klopp has ruled out a Coutinho re-sign, and in addition another transfer rumour. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale also won’t be gracing the Anfield turf as a Red. Klopp told Sky Sports:
“A team is not a collection of the best individual players, they have to work together…
“Liverpool is a long-term project. The team is really good. Will there be difficult situations? Probably. There would be if we bring in a new player, or two or three. I didn’t say we won’t do anything, it is going to be a big window for sure but people don’t think about the people who are already in.”
With or without the likes of Coutinho and Bale, former City boss Stuart Pearce feels the belief Liverpool will have gained from such an impressive season means they’ll finish champions at the end of the 2019/20 campaign. He told TalkSport in July:
“It’s the Holy Grail they’re chasing with this Premier League title and I think it will sharpen their focus even more now.
“They’ve got Joe Gomez to come back and there are such high expectations on him, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to come back as well to join what they’ve got.”
Both clubs have built incredibly strong squads over the past few years, two of the strongest Premier League squads ever, in fact. So we’ll most likely be seeing less transfer activity from Liverpool and City as we will from the clubs chasing to catch up. What will be key is keeping fit, consistent squads, great form and managerial magic. Whether The Reds need to invest in a creative player to enhance the squad, or can simply ride the wave of belief that the previous season has instilled, it’s sure to be another hotly-contested Premier League title. If City’s form drops by the finest of margins, Klopp’s men must be ready to punish them. Whether it’s players returning from injury, a new creative player or just a bit of luck – one factor might be enough to tip the balance.