Updated: Mar 7, 2020
Three wins, nine points and top of the league, surely this has to be their year? In this blog post I look at their resurgence since Klopp arrived and provide five reasons why this should be the year they finally win the Premier League.
When I started getting into football in the mid-late 90s Liverpool were yesterday’s men.
Some promising talent and a trophy here and there, but were they ever likely to challenge for the title? No chance. Not even close.
Living in the shadow of Man Utd and Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger had their number time and time again. The glory days of Shankly, Paisley, Souness amd Dalglish were long gone.
Fast forward twenty years and roles have reversed, Man Utd and Arsenal are now living in Liverpool’s shadow. Well, they almost are. One thing missing is that coveted Premier League trophy, a trophy they haven’t won since the 1989/90 season. That’s 30 years of hurt...I’m surprised no one has written a song about it!
Here’s five reasons why this could be their year.
1. They're the Champions of Europe
Last summer Liverpool were licking their wounds after a 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. Two howlers from the Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius cost them dearly. So close yet so far!
12 months later they went one step further and won the thing! If you don’t succeed, try, try again. And succeed they did, beating Spurs 2-0 in a comfortable victory at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid (of all places).
They got over the psychological damage created by 2018’s defeat to be crowned Kings of Europe for the sixth time. As the ecstatic Jurgen Klopp so eloquentlysang to the BT Sport interviewer, ‘let’s talk about six baby, lets talk about you and me…’.
And now we can make parallels with the Premier League. Last season, Liverpool lost the league by 1 point. With 97 points it was the third highest total in Premier League history. So close, yet so far…again.
The enigmatic Klopp will have them trying, trying again and will easily take inspiration from their Champions League win. Being the Champions of Europe must give you some inspiration, right?!
2. They have the genius of Mo Salah
It’s often easy to forget that Mo Salah used to be on Chelsea’s books and was quickly disregarded. After Mourinho publicly criticised the Egyptian for a poor display against Shrewbury Town in 2014, the writing was on the wall. He was shipped off to Serie A’s Fiorentina and never expected to grace the British Isles again.
Now look at him. Returning to England in 2017, Salah soon became a fan favourite with his dazzling skills and goalscoring form. Who was this guy everyone wondered and what had he done with the Salah that had escaped to Italy two years before?!
By the end of his first season he had been voted the PFA Player of the Year and there’s little sign he’s slowing down. He’s already scored 74 goals in 107 games for Liverpool and, be it his finishing or dribbling, he is easily one of the best players in the world.
In the 58th minute of Liverpool’s early evening kick off on Saturday against Arsenal, Salah picked up the ball on the right touchline close the half way line. With David Luiz approaching, it looked like the Egyptian had nowhere to go. Suddenly the genius came out to play.
Pretending to slow down, he waited for Luiz to approach before taking him out the game with a sudden burst of pace. He ran towards goal before curling a shot with his left foot into the bottom corner. Magic Mo strikes again.
He’s already started the season brilliantly (3 goals in 3 games) and is their deadliest weapon to winning the Premier League trophy.
3. Klopp will deliver, he always does
It’s hard not to like Jurgen Klopp. The big teethed smile when he wins, running onto the pitch after late derby winners, and his ability to reference Rocky in post match interviews. What’s not to like?!
Where managers like Jose Mourinho stink the place out, Klopp brings so much joy to the game. His enthusiasm is infectious and clearly rubs off on the Anfield fanbase and players.
At Dortmund he developed a style of football called ‘Gegenpress’, a form of high press tactical football where players would swarm the man in possession, winning it back in dangerous positions. He’s developed a similar style at Liverpool and this has been at the heart of their resurgence.
When the German joined Liverpool in October 2015, they were sitting 10th in the table and were, quite frankly, going nowhere. By the end of the season he had led them to a Europa League Final. Two years later they had made it to a Champions League final before winning it a year later. Klopp works miracles quickly.
And again, we can make some parallels with his previous club. When the charismatic 52-year-old took over as Borussia Dortmund manager in 2008 they were a club in need of repair and fresh ideas. The previous season they’d languished in 13th position in the Bundesliga, and like Liverpool in October 2015, were in dyer need of innovation. They were a sleeping giant, an underachieving national establishment who hadn’t won a trophy in years. Sounds familiar, right?
By 2011, they had beaten the odds and won the German Bundesliga with a record breaking points total of 81 points (since beaten by Bayern Munich). Two years later they were playing in a Champions League Final.
Jurgen Klopp is gradually delivering the same narrative to Liverpool and the League title is the next piece of the jigsaw.
4. Their unlikely full back dream team
When Andrew Robertson signed for Liverpool from the relegated Hull City two years ago for £8 million, many an eyebrow were raised and many wondered whether the 25-year-old Glasweigan left back was of the required standard. At first he did nothing to dispel that feeling.
When the regular left back Alberto Moreno injured himself in December 2017, Robertson grabbed his chance. Form the off, he bombed up and down the left wing with an energy the Anfield crowd had never seen before. Since then he’s been a fan favourite and a vital part of the team contributing great defensive cover and becoming a key attacker at the same time.
Likewise, 20-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold has also established himself as a fan favourite. Back in 2015, Steven Gerrard tipped the young Scouser to have a great career ahead of him and how right Stevie G would be. With a Beckham-esque delivery, he’s firmly established himself in the Liverpool and England starting XI.
The two players both contribute so much towards Liverpool’s attack. Arsenal on Saturday was a great example. Unai Emery’s Arsenal set up to crowd the centre of the packed with a diamond formation. WIth the midfield crowded, this gave both widemen free reign to support the attack and deliver deadly cross after deadly cross into the box.
They have become important playmakers in their own right and last season provided 23 assists between them, a record for two full backs. With their solid defensive attributes as well, they were even the two highest scoring players in Fantasy Football!
5. Virgil van Dijk is the classiest defender in the game
Van Dijk is an absolute Rolls Royce of a defender and current PFA Player of the Year. It’s difficult to think of a better modern centre back in world football.
Liverpool conceded less goals than anyone else last season (22) and this was mostly down to this man. He reads the game brilliantly, wins most of his aerial duels, outmuscling and outthinking every attacker he comes across. Strikers simply can’t get past him and he rarely goes to ground.
Van Dijk been such a class act for Liverpool you actually forget that it wasn’t that long ago he was plying his trade in Scotland with Celtic!
Every iconic team has an iconic centre back, this is Liverpool's.
And here's your bonus reason...
6. Firminho, the understated Brazilian, is their secret weapon
With Salah and Mane gaining a lot of praise for their goalscoring exploits last season, Firminho was still the engine that glued the Liverpool frontline together.
His white teeth and sharp hair cut may suggest an exuberant character, but the opposite in fact appears to be the truth.
Klopp plays him as a ‘false 9’, and his skill and selflessness led Thierry Henry to refer to him as the ‘most complete striker in the (Premier) League’.
When Salah and Mane aren’t firing, Firminho is your man. He has scored 49 goals in 140 Premier League matches, not a bad record for a supporting striker, and he scored the winner against Southampton in the second game.
Jurgen Klopp has assembled one of the greatest Liverpool sides of all time, but there’s one fairly massive hurdle that stands in the way: Man City.
City won every domestic trophy going last season and are an outstanding team to watch with a seemingly endless pot of money to draw from. Not to mention the brilliance of manager Pep Guardiola.
But momentum is on Liverpool’s side. They’ve won their last 12 Premier League matches and can dismantle the best teams on their day, as proved by their defeat of Arsenal on Saturday.
The race to the title is going to be as exciting as ever. I've a feeling it’s going to be Liverpool’s year. Surely Man City can’t stand in their way again...