Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Premier League State of Affairs: LIVERPOOL

The Reds find themselves top of the league after 11 rounds of the Premier League, in a place that looked virtually impossible just 12 months ago.

Sadio Mane is Liverpool's top Premier League goalscorer, with six in ten appearances. 
(Photo: Sky Sports)

It’s hard to believe the transformation and evolution of the playing group since Jurgen Klopp took over in October, 2015.

But for those who witnessed the German sprinkle his magic over Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund earlier in his career, maybe Liverpool’s improvement is no surprise at all.

Over the course of last season, Klopp helped restore the Liverpool squad’s confidence in themselves. He set new standards and raised the side’s expectations, with the influence eventually taking them to – two – cup finals.

In his first preseason at the club in July, 2016, he took them on what has become a standard international trip across two continents, building both fitness and camradery.

Crucially, during this time he made the astute signings of Sadio Mane from Southampton, and Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle United. Both additions came almost as a surprise to the wider, outside stakeholders, but have provided depth and improvement in much-needed areas.

Klopp didn’t exactly plug the gaps in the side’s holes considering he resisted the urge to sign a left back and utilised what he had on hand, but he made calculated decisions.

While putting faith in the majority of the squad he had might have been considered a gamble by some, the add-ons have installed a healthy competition for places in the starting team.

The fact that striker Daniel Sturridge, who was not long ago considered Liverpool’s best player, cannot hold down a place in Klopp’s favoured XI is a telling sign of how far the Reds have come.

But how far they can go will be an exciting journey to watch unfold. While matching the breathtaking brilliance and deadliness of the Brendon Rodgers’ Luis Suarez-led side of 2013-14 would be tough, Klopp’s side is beginning to open up sides and tear them apart.

Of course, no title is ever won in November, and whether the weight and long held expectations of winning a maiden Premier League title burdens their chances remains to be seen.

In recent weeks, Klopp has been pouring cold water on any title-winning talk, attempting to douse any false pretences that could develop amongst his players.

He knows, no title is secured until it’s all said and done. Liverpool fans should also know this better than any.

But it’s clear this Klopp-guided team is a legitimate chance at winning some silverware this season.

If they can keep their momentum going, Liverpool could do anything this season.

As they say: you’ve got to lose one, to win one.

Last season, Liverpool lost two.

Prediction: Close, very close.