Liverpool’s 2018/2019 campaign was absolutely momentous. The Reds broke the record for the highest points in a Premier League season by a team that failed to win the league as they managed to amass an incredible 97 points, just one fewer than eventual winners Manchester City, who were the only team to beat the Reds in the Premier League all season. But success did come in the club’s favourite competition, the Champions League, as they lifted ‘Ol’ Big Ears’ for the sixth time.
Beating fellow Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League Final in Madrid will have served as vindication for German manager Jurgen Klopp, who had come under criticism from some quarters having not yet lifted a trophy beforehand during his time on Merseyside. Can he make sure his side kick on and ensure they win more silverware this term with that long wait to lift the Premier League trophy finally coming to an end?
Liverpool Betting Specials
To win the Premier League – 1/20
Mo Salah to be top Premier League goalscorer – 8/1
Sadio Mane to be PFA Player of the Year – 10/11
To win the Premier League and FA Cup – 9/2
To win the Champions League – 9/2
All odds from William Hill and correct at the time of writing
In what was surely their most successful season of the Premier League era, Liverpool so nearly ended their agonising wait to lift the trophy last season as they managed an incredible 97 points, an amount that would be more than enough to win the trophy most seasons. In the end, Manchester City managed to collect just one more and the Reds would have to settle for their runners-up medals despite losing just one game all season long.
It was in the Champions League where the Reds truly excelled though, coming from three goals down to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals before overcoming Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. There is no doubt Liverpool supporters will have been delighted with that win given their club’s history in the competition, but to just fall short of the Premier League trophy in the cruellest of ways must have hurt.
Jurgen Klopp has quickly reached heroic status among the fervent Anfield support. The German boss endeared himself to the fans almost immediately when he arrived part-way through the 2015/2016 campaign, he seemed to have a clear blueprint for how to get the club back to their best and within four years he found himself lifting the Merseysiders’ sixth European Cup trophy, with that plan being vindicated in the best possible way.
There can be no doubt Klopp has had money to spend but he has spent it wisely, identifying key areas to improve upon and bringing in the perfect candidate in each position. The additions of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson in the last two years in particular have proven to be incredibly intelligent buys to add a defensive base to the gegenpressing, ‘heavy metal football’ Klopp prefers from his teams when on the attack.
Transfer Window Activity
Perhaps unsurprisingly given how strong Liverpool were last season, there were no new major arrivals into Anfield in the summer. The only incomings were young Dutch centre-back Sepp van den Berg from Zwolle and teenage English forward Harvey Elliott from Fulham, plus goalkeepers Adrian and Andy Lonergan who were signed as back-ups to Alisson. However, with the Brazilian sustaining an injury in the very first match of the season against Norwich, former West Ham keeper Adrian was pressed into action rather quicker than anticipated.
More importantly, the Reds managed to hold on to all of their key assets, with only fringe players like Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno leaving the club in the summer. But they wasted no time in bolstering their ranks in January as Japanese forward Takumi Minamino was signed from Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg and he made his debut in the FA Cup third-round victory against Everton.
The Key Man
One of the easier key men to pick out in the Premier League, Virgil van Dijk has been at the absolute heart of everything good Liverpool have done since he arrived at the club in January 2018 for what was a world-record fee for a defender at the time. The Dutchman has been an absolute colossus at the back since then for Jurgen Klopp and his side and quite rightly picked up the PFA Player of the Year last term.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk (PA Images)
The stats speak for themselves. In the 2018/2019 Premier League campaign, Van Dijk oversaw 20 league clean sheets, was not dribbled past by a single player, won 181 of his 264 aerial duels and made no fewer than 199 clearances. Equally adept in playing out from the back as he is in winning duels as an out-and-out old-fashioned defender, Van Dijk has become the blueprint for the modern day centre-back since he moved to Anfield.
Will Klopp Turn To Youngsters Ahead Of New Signings?
How do you improve a squad that came so close to winning the Premier League last year and managed to get its hands on the Champions League trophy? Indeed, there is even a feeling that the likes of Fabinho and Naby Keita will be better for having a full season of English football under their belt, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Jurgen Klopp decided against dipping into the transfer market in the summer.
Instead, the German has hinted he may be willing to afford more game time to some of the youngsters knocking on the door of the first-team squad. Midfielder Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, the new arrival from Fulham, are among those being given first-team opportunities this term.
Who Is Van Dijk’s First-Choice Centre-Back Partner?
One position that is difficult to pinpoint in the Liverpool starting line-up is which of their defensive options is most likely to partner Virgil van Dijk on a regular basis. Joe Gomez appeared to be nailing down the starting berth in the early stages of last season before he sustained an injury which saw the likes of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren afforded more game time in the latter stages of the campaign.
Fit-again Gomez has been first choice recently in the injury absence of Lovren and Matip but there is a handful of talented young defenders in the academy waiting for a chance of game time too, including Dutchman Ki-Jana Hoever. In reality, Van Dijk’s ability brings whoever partners him up to another level and the healthy competition will undoubtedly please the coaching staff.
Where Will Liverpool Finish This Season?
We think this will be Liverpool’s season.
Having gone so close last year only to fall just short, you could be sure they would be as determined as ever to dethrone Manchester City this term and given how difficult we have seen teams find it to retain the Premier League trophy in recent seasons, we always suspected the Cityzens would find it even more tough to win the competition for a third consecutive time, particularly with Pep Guardiola surely more driven than ever to ensure he lifts the Champions League trophy as a priority this term.
The Reds have welcomed back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from long-term injury and Naby Keita is more influential this time around now that he has had time to adapt to the Premier League. We expect the Reds to end their league title wait in 2019/2020.
It looks like being a difficult year for fans of other Premier League clubs who have enjoyed mocking Liverpool’s lack of Premier League trophies in recent years as we back that long drought to finally come to an end come May. With the quality they have in every area of the pitch, Liverpool will be difficult to beat as they go in search of the trophy that has eluded them for almost 30 years.
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Liverpool FC Tips & Betting Specials 2019/2020
Can the Reds go one step further after just missing out on the title last term? Get our Liverpool betting tips and the latest LFC betting specials here.