Liverpool FC – Title Contenders?

They came agonisingly close a couple of seasons ago but by allowing mistakes in their remaining games they opened the door for Man City to sneak in and steal what look to be deservedly theirs.

Gerrard’s now infamous slip and 10 unbelievable minutes at Selhurst Park ultimately cost the Merseyside club their 1st league triumph since 89-90. It’s been far too long for a club the stature of Liverpool to go without winning the highest domestic honour but this season they look capable of ending decades of hurt.

The start they have made has been impressive…16 points from 21. Away wins at Arsenal and Chelsea make statements throughout a season but to achieve both so early lays down an impressive marker. Throw in a hammering of Champions Leicester, a reasonable point at Spurs and it almost makes you forget about the early Burnley ambush at Turf Moor. Whilst most sides will drop unexpected points, it is these “Burnley-type” results that Klopp will be keen to eradicate, something which looked to be lesson learnt at Swansea recently.

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Last Saturday the animated German Manager celebrated his 1st year at Anfield, he can look back on a part-season that included appearances in the Capital One and Europa League Finals after inheriting a side from Brendan Rodgers and can claim he overachieved. Now with a summer transfer window under his belt it is clear that he has identified players and strengthened from back to front…

Loris Karius is over his early injury and is challenging Mignolet for the No1 jersey with 39 year old Manninger providing the experienced back up.

The shrewd acquisitions of Matip and Klavan have added depth and steel to the heart of the defence, you have to say that they are desperate for an out and out left back though. Milner has more than proved his worth by filing in, but a naturally left footed player would add additional balance to the starting XI. Hull City and Scotland’s Andy Robertson (recently linked) could be the answer for a reasonable price.

Midfield has seen the arrival of Gigi Wijnaldum from Newcastle for an inflated fee but he seems to be more at home on Merseyside than he did further north where he suffered relegation. The emergence of Kevin Stewart is a pleasing sight and the Kop are finally seeing the best of Lallana. Jordan Henderson is taking the captaincy role for both club and country, just like his idolised predecessor.

Mane, Coutinho and Firmino are a frightening trio for any defence to deal with and the fact that they are currently keeping a fit Daniel Sturridge out of the team is the highest praise they can be given.

An overall transfer spend of £62m was offset by recouping around £75m with the departures of Benteke, Ibe, Allen and perhaps most importantly Mario Balotelli. The fees and the times were right for these players to move on.

Just like the squad the Main Stand has been addressed. A new 3rd tier increases the capacity and takes the ground to a new level.  More supporters = more noise (hopefully positive). Just like Parkhead it is something special hearing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” bellowing out just before kick-off.

No European football provides a massive advantage, no long midweek journeys leading to disrupted weekend kick off times. The Champions League is where club belongS, however they should be using the dramatically reduced schedule of games to steal a march on the rest of the Premier League.

Speaking of domestic opponents…Next up are old rivals Manchester United on Monday night, a win would take them 6 points clear of Mourinho’s men. A game which needs no introduction and often meets expectations, if Klopp’s XI can shake off the rustiness of the international break then they should be aiming to make a further statement of intent in front of the watching World.

The Manager is in place, the squad is well-balanced, the books are showing positive numbers and the ground has finally gone under some re-development. It’s an exciting time if you’re a Liverpool fan, a time where it must be difficult to stop envisaging another prolonged period of success on the horizon.

The joint top scorers in the division still have work to do but from what they have shown already this season there is no reason why they can’t hold aloft that much sought after and long overdue trophy come May, football needs a serially competitive Liverpool side and it looks like we may just have one again.

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Liverpool vs Chelsea image sourced from www.football365.com
Liverpool fans image sourced from www.skysports.com

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