Three reasons Liverpool fans can be confident for Man City battle despite lack of signings

Express

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09 серпня 2019 13:00

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After earning 97 points last season but still finishing second to Manchester City, Liverpool - who at least went on to win the Champions League - go in search of a first title in 30 years with Pep Guardiola’s City again their main foes.Jurgen Klopp believes Tottenham, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal will all have a greater say on the destination of the title this year but the truth is it will be either City and Liverpool lifting the trophy come May 17, 2020. The German opted against a single significant signing in the summer transfer window, deciding instead to concentrate on working with what he has.And while Liverpool fans might have liked some new faces to keep the squad fresh and strengthen in areas light in depth, Klopp is confident he can extract the same performance from his side as last season - if not draw out even more.

Based on the success rate of the German’s decision-making during his four-year stint at Anfield so far, he is well deserving of the fans’ faith - and there are plenty of reasons to be positive heading into the new season.This Liverpool team is wonderfully talented, boasting a collection of world-class players who have the physical and mental qualities to be the group to end the club’s agonisingly long title wait.The bulk of Klopp’s current crop are all either at the peak of their powers or entering their prime, which should offer encouragement they can maintain their high performance levels, particularly given the fact they were not reliant on demolishing teams last season but also harnessed an ability to grind teams down and win ugly. Mohamed Sarah, in particular, looked sharp against Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley and might have had a hat-trick on another day. After 54 league goals across the last two seasons - added to 22 assists - the Egyptian looks ready to go again, with his impact having been vital in the past 24 months.

But the crucial difference this time around for Liverpool is that the Merseyside outfit have kept all of their key players. Previously, as in 2009 with Xabi Alonso and 2013 with Luis Suarez, that has not been the case. As a result title challenges have been fleeting and they have had to start from square one again only months after coming so close to glory.Not this time. Going into 2019-20, Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk among others remain at the club - and even better, their contracts all have them tied down for the foreseeable future. This Liverpool side has improved year-on-year under Klopp and though it might seem fanciful to suggest they can surpass last year’s achievements in the league, they have exceeded expectations in the last two campaigns in reaching the Champions League final in their first year back in the competition in 2017-18 and then gaining a club-record points haul last year to run Man City so close. Not only that, but they now finally have experience of winning something. That first taste of silverware can be vital for teams to kick on and win more, just as it was for City when they won the FA Cup eight years ago, their first major trophy since 1976. They have won seven nine since, including four titles.

James Milner, who knows a thing or two about experience, spoke after Liverpool’s European Cup triumph in June about the “the belief and the winning mentality” that getting that first trophy at City had and it could well do the same on L4. Klopp is exactly the man to ensure that a hunger for trophies is not satiated by that success but only fuelled further.Liverpool can also welcome several players into the fold who are capable of adding plenty to the team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one, giving the midfield a fresh ability not just to harry the opposition but to break through the lines and carry the ball into dangerous areas. Naby Keita is now fully settled and can offer similar qualities, having been sublime at full flow in the Bundesliga. A full season of Fabinho at his best will also make a significant impact.While Joel Matip was excellent in the second half of last season, Joe Gomez and Van Dijk’s pre-Christmas partnership - until Gomez picked up a long-term injury at Burnley - saw Liverpool concede just six times in their first 15 games and offers promise they can remain as resolute as last year.Supporters may have reacted badly to the suggestion that an injury-prone player such as Adam Lallana is “like a new signing”, as Klopp said, but the contributions that players like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Gomez and teenage prospect Rhian Brewster can make should not be underestimated.

By keeping their squad together, adding in returning players capable of making big impacts and harnessing the mental boost of the Champions League win, Liverpool can take the next step and win a long-awaited title. It will take a monumental effort given the strength of Guardiola’s City but they have now gone toe-to-toe with the Citizens in 90 minutes and also across a 38-game campaign and will take great confidence from their achievements last season. Facing Norwich tonight at Anfield - where they are unbeaten in the Premier League or the Champions League since April 2017 - is an excellent opportunity to set the standard.“Everybody knows that we will go again, 100 per cent,” said Klopp after the last game of the season in May. Now he and his players have to prove it.

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express entertainment додав (ла) Cavan Bradford

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