Send your thoughts on Liverpool’s lack of spending and anything else to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Liverpool trap
I’m pretty frustrated that Liverpool haven’t dipped into the transfer market on any great scale yet but I think it’s safe to say that, judging on their recent record, Liverpool’s analysts have got pretty good at reading what they do and do not need, so I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt (big of me I know!). I think Will Ford is falling into the trap of underestimating the strength, depth and flexibility of Liverpool’s squad. The first thing that Liverpool’s first XI have is an excellent injury record. Very few are injury prone and, though there have been the odd injury that they’ve dealt with, part of Liverpool’s strategy has been targeting first team players who do not break down.
If one looks through the squad one can see that there is good cover for the first team, of course it’s not as stocked in certain positions as some of our rivals but all the glittering attacking options available to Man City last season didn’t stop them losing 9 games last season, in large part because they did not have adequate cover for their one decent centre back. Adrian is a perfectly serviceable 2nd choice keeper and we have two decent enough options at full back in Williams and Tsimikas (the latter of whom may well both push Robertson and give him more rest enabling him to be more effective). Either Matip or Gomez are excellent third choice centre halves and Fabinho will be the 4th choice. There ae a number of promising youngsters in that position who will also get game time in the cups (van den Berg, Hoever, Koumetio). In midfield Liverpool are well stocked, able to choose from Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Jones, Grujic. For the forwards I think that we will probably see a 4-2-3-1 formation rather more often and Minamino, Shaqiri, Origi, Elliot and, if he stays, Brewster might all suit that better than 4-3-3. Minamino I think is going to be one of the surprise packages for the season and Origi, for all his shortcomings, has scored goals in Cl finals and semi-finals which I don’t recall any of City’s forwards doing recently!
All-in-all Liverpool’s squad is a lot stronger than people think and I think we’re going to see some impressive breakthroughs by some of the younger players they have been nurturing. Finding solutions within the squad is something Liverpool are pretty good at, so let’s wait and see before rushing to judgment. I seem to recall journalists last year saying Liverpool would never be able to repeat their league feats of the previous season…
It amazes me how much of the analysis of Liverpool and a potential title defense seems to miss the cautionary tales of defending a title on the cheap. City won the title in 2012, then spent some couch cushion money on Javi Garcia, Maicon, Rodwell and Sinclair. Lost the title in 12/13. Next year, they buy Fernandinho, Jovetic, Negredo and win the league. Look at Chelsea, they won the title in 14/15, then just made a modest add in Pedro and fell off to 10th the next year. And Leicester City almost goes without saying. The moral of the story is defending a title without spending in the Premier League doesn’t really work.
Liverpool spent a season and a half with the pedal to the floor trying to catch up to City. City previously played 2 seasons of virtuoso football before falling off. The reality is you can’t push the pace forever. Since February, in competitive matches Liverpool are 8-2-7. That’s not a team with their pedal to the floor. You could make a case they’ve been in a speed wobble since the new year with how many close call wins they picked up in January. Once Klopp & Company salted away the title they lost focus. They’re now going to face a whole season where teams are going to be big game hunting them and they’re not used to being the prey. Every other club wants that “________ takes down the Champions” headline.
Liverpool really had to have everything fall their way last year in the injury department, can you really expect a 3rd year in a row where none of their core players are out long term, like we saw with City seeing Laporte, Aguero and Sané being out? I doubt Liverpool secures a Champions League spot missing VVD, Salah and Mané for any sustained amount of time. If teams have started nicking wins off them this year, other managers definitely have the book on this Liverpool roster. Without spending, I don’t see how they hold off Arsenal for the 4th CL spot, let alone defending the league.
James in Canuckistan
We’ve been caught…
I enjoyed your article about Jurgen Klopp ahead of the upcoming season, but couldn’t help but wonder if it was designed essentially as a delivery vehicle to include the words “Klopp face mask” in a headline/URL…
Oliver (proud owner of this Jurgen Klopp face mask; looks better on me than it does on her, in fairness) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Okay Donp LFC I’ll bite, “disrespecting Southgate and the national team gives an insight into the mentality of players at these clubs” Really? Perhaps they should all wear tee shirts proclaiming their innocence maybe our fans can abuse Southgate for being the manager who sent them home, Scouse logic at it’s finest. I’ll give you a prediction Liverpool will struggle to make the top four this season Liverpool fans will still be sanctimonious arses and City and United will finish above you causing one end of the Lancastrian way to spontaneously combust.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
This is going to be controversial but I’ve always had this thing with Man City. I feel like some of their players get vastly overrated. Look at Kompany for example. People think for some reason that he was a key figure for them when in fact he hasnt played more than 17 games than them since 14-15. He was obviously a good player but I can recall several big mistakes hes made but they’re never spoken about. He was found out quite often in Europe. David Silva is next. Great player and very consistent. But I remember people saying and F365 could probably be included in this that hes the best PL midfielder of all time or in the top 5… not a chance. Hes been good over a decade but at his prime he wasnt as good as some of the greats. Even Fabregas who I believe gets vastly underrated had a better career than him in my opinion. Fabregas had a better peak for sure and started at a much younger age and up until about 2015 they were at the same level. Fabregas has had several seasons much better than Silva. Bernardo Silva is another. Hes been good and theres no doubt about it but people seem to forget that his first season was considered average and he only started 15 games. A bit like Mahrez first season, they were just settling in. His second season was top class and his game evolved much more. But them last season he was just decent again and didnt start most of the games. I feel like there is a pattern here because all these guys are really likeable and seem like decent lads but I notice they never get stick. Silva and Kompany have never done anything in Europe which is a metric used to criticise a lot of top players. I look at the 11-12 and 13-14 season and two very key players them seasons were Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri. Without them, they wouldnt have won the title. They both had several key moments in winning that title. But this gets quite forgotten about because they’re dickheads.
Not hating on Man City either, just these players in particular I feel get over praised. I love Aguero, KdB, Sterling, Laporte. But I feel like theres players like this everywhere who get praised heavily because they’re likeable. I know its blasphemous to say this about those players especially David Silva and Kompany but I feel like City would have been fine without them most of the time bar maybe 11-12 where they were both excellent.
Many are getting there predictions in for the new Premier League campaign and I can’t blame them, that new season vibe is there and I can’t wait for Saturday lunchtime!
However instead of a whole list of who I think will finish where, I thought I’d reduce it down to a player I think will be the one to watch this season and he is a former Blue at newly promoted Fulham.
Michael Hector joined Chelsea a few years ago and let’s be honest he was never going to get a game, sadly, however he has turned his career around after several loans and looks a key part of that Fulham back line, he finally gets to make his Premier League debut and I feel if he does just as well as he did in the Championship then a he will be linked with a move to a top eight side within two seasons.
Ted, Manchester : you want to know how excited I am of new upcoming season in five words?
You got it!!
GUARDIOLA, KLOPP , MOURINHO, BIELSA, LAMPARD, and ill cheat and add in one more word , ARTETA!!!!
There is nooo league in the world than premier league with better collection of world class managers!!
ITS GOING TO BE A BLOOD BATH I TELLS YOU!!!
Notice how I didn’t add OLE to my five word list, I don’t rate him as a manager. His only tactic is counter-attack and that ain’t gonna work all time. United ain’t going anywhere until Pochettino becomes manager.
Bring on the new season!!!!
JP music cityyyyyy in the house !!!!
Since people are making PL predictions in the mailbox I guess I’ll make some of my own *warning* may contain sarcasm and silliness:
– Liverpool win the league again and everybody is genuinely happy for them.
– Man City finish second but don’t put up a real title fight again and the press reports this objectively putting most of the blame on Guardiola like they would if it was any other manager. Raheem Sterling also goes the whole season without accusing anybody of being racist.
– West Ham finally issue a statement admitting they are not a big club and promise to only make sensible transfer targets just before making a 250m bid for Kylian Mbappe in January.
– Joelinton finishes the season as the league’s top scorer with a record 37 goals, unluckily no other Newcastle player scores at all and they are relegated.
– Burnley finish 17th and go the whole season without winning, losing, scoring or conceding after Sean Dyche’s new tactic of covering the whole goal mouth with really big and tall players drafted in from Japanese Sumo Wrestling and the NBA is a resounding success.
– After a poor start to the season Sheffield Utd sack Chris Wilder. Sean Bean while wearing a fake beard and claiming to be fictional former player Jimmy Muir takes over as caretaker manager so he can do research for his role in the upcoming movie ‘When Saturday Comes 2’. He gets the job permanently after he guides the team to a 4th place finish.
– James Rodriguez unaware of British drinking culture celebrates signing for Everton by going on a night out in Liverpool and doesn’t make his league debut until March when he finally sobers up.
– Fulham stay up, really I’m serious they do, trust me on this.
– The country of Portugal and all its citizens are purchased by Wolves in a deal brokered by Jorge Mendes.
– Since Chelsea were unable to sign a new one before the transfer window closed they decide to play without a goalkeeper as Lampard considers it a more effective option than playing Kepa. Bizarrely it is and they concede less goals than last season.
– The Glazer’s finally cash in by selling Man Utd for 3 billion pounds to her majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
– Leeds Utd are a really popular and welcome addition to EPL.
– Brendan Rogers comes up with a revolutionary new system for Leicester City that involves changing their formation and tactics every 15 minutes regardless of how well his team are playing.
– Arsenal finish 10th but the press all still say Mikel Arteta is a ‘promising young manager’ as he is such a nice guy and they don’t want to hurt his feelings.
– Southampton set an impressive new EPL record, shame that it is for losing 10-1 at home.
– Aston Villa finish 16th but are still relegated after all other PL clubs vote in favor to declare that forcing away fans to attend matches in Birmingham contravenes human rights law.
– Jose Mourinho causes further tensions with Tanguy Ndombele by leaving him out of his PL squad and naming him as the clubs mascot Chirpy Cockerel.
– Graham Potter’s Brighton experiment semi-successfully with tiki-taka. The team however still ends up in relegation scrap as they like Barca are excellent at passing the ball around until the opposition falls asleep but unlike the Catalan giants it also regularly puts their own players to sleep so they draw most games 0-0.
– Crystal Palace finally get relegated, a national holiday is declared as football fans around the country rejoice.
– West Brom, you already stopped reading this once I mentioned them so no need to write anymore.
Go on then I’ll join in the race to look the least stupid in May (or whenever the season finishes this time)
Top 4 – Liv, Man C, Man U, Chelsea – I can’t see anyone not picking these two at the top, I think this Liverpool side has at least another season in them, high movement positions young enough to keep going and spine of the team not quite through their peak yet. Yes injuries may hamper them this year as they haven’t bought but take a couple out of any of these sides and looks a bit unpredictable, Man U & Chelsea best of the rest (could be any order tbh) but Chelsea dependent on new signings gelling well and Frank fining a good balance between rotation and allowing new understandings to forge on the pitch with the small turn around in games this season (obviously I’m assuming a new keeper comes in as well)
Europa / Top 8 – Arsenal, Wolves, Spurs, Leicester – bit obvious I know, Wolves coped most of last season with Thur/Sun football and will be strong with only league games this season, Arsenal looked as if something was coming together after the restart and would imagine this will continue and will run the top 4 close. Other two are just the best squads of the rest, not sure about Spurs look like they could have a really good side and if it clicks along with Jose’s nous they will be higher but just feel there is something to go wrong there at any time (might be wishful thinking as opposed to any actual knowledge) Leicester will depend on whether Vardy has one more year in him as they don’t look like they are trying to get anyone else and haven’t seen enough progression from Iheanacho
Relegation – Looks difficult this year but Fulham will be Norwich a few plaudits for trying to play decent football but no results especially when Mitrovic realises VAR means refs do have eyes in the back of their heads. The other two could be any of West Brom, Brighton, West Ham, Palace, Newcastle, Villa (sure I’ve left someone out) oh let’s put Leeds in there as well, can see a lot of really tight (i.e rubbish) games this season with the tight schedule. Newcastle look like they’ve bought well so probably the season it falls apart after all of us thinking they were certainties last year, is four midlands clubs too many should Villa or West Brom go? Palace might hinge on the loan move for Batshuayi as they could maybe nick a few of the tight games to be clear again, Brighton look the same as last year so will be there again and a few results could go either way to keep them either side of the line. No point making any predictions about West Ham as we all know they could be anything and if they ditch Moyes after no results in the first few games (Noble for player/manager anyone) it starts all over again. Leeds are obviously the wildcard dependent on the players making the step up as we know Bielsa can, at lot of unknowns in the side who looked good in the championship but we’ve seen before it’s a bit of a leap, in all honesty they will be safe just whether they are top of the bottom 6/7 or top of the middle 5/6.
Top Scorer – Hoping it’s Werner but feeling he will drift a lot so might share the goals around (or we’ll be in the same situation as last year with loads of possession around the box without troubling the keeper) Aubameyang would have to my choice for his finishing and calmness in front of goal
Signing of the season – Still a lot of love for James and would love to see him find a bit of form and movement of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison along with attacking full backs could give him a lot of options as the No 10, Werner would have to score at least 20 goals to offset the fee and bring him into this conversation.
POTY – If De Bruyne can win it when they don’t win the league and he missed approx. 2 months through injury I suppose he will win it again
YPOTY – Think this should be revised to players under a certain amount of games alongside the age range thinking of some of the players as young when they have played 2 or 3 full seasons seems a bit stupid, as I have said Liverpool will win the league again (stop making me type that) can’t look past Trent for this again
Manager of the season – Bielsa if Leeds finish top 8/10 but should be league winner really so Klopp
Underperformers – Newcastle, as above everyone starting to think they will be ok with the signings and Callum Wilson will score a few but they will still be bottom 4
Overachievers – Would this be Sheff Utd again if they finish top half as I think they will be in the 8/9/10 positions with Leicester & Leeds/Southampton. Can’t really see any other candidates for this unless Arsenal win the league or Leeds finish top six neither of which are going to happen, most of the other outcomes would just be an achievement rather than a major surprise (Man U or Chelsea win the league, Fulham stay up, Burnley top 10, Spurs, Wolves or Arsenal top 4)
MOTS – Whichever is the first match I’m allowed to go to live in a full stadium and not have to have my temperature taken whenever I walk through a door so nothing this season then, I’ll pick Arsenal v Chelsea on Boxing day a stormer to break up our lockdown Xmas hoping we can still go to a pub to watch it
Wishing everyone a happy new season but looking at the timetable might be sick of it all by the end of October, does anyone else think there is a little bit too much football and we are pushing these players to their limits which must affect the quality
Scott (bit boring reading it back no curveballs at all sorry) Surrey
Just wanted to join in the ‘fun’. By making it actually a bit more fun.
So, as I lay here sleep deprived thanks to a 3 month old baby… my alternative predictions:
1) We’ll be blown away by how often the refs use the VAR screen at the side of the pitch.
2) The new (premier league) match ball will be a real talking point for the first time since the Jabulani lit up (ruined) the South African World Cup.
3) A goalkeeper will score a premier league goal.
4) Despite no fans in the stadium, there will still be a racism row. Somehow.
5) Everton will win a Merseyside Derby.
6) Gary Lineker will make 4,823 puns on Match of The Day.
7) We will see a record number of injuries across the full season. I reckon 36% higher than the previous record.
8) Bruno Fernandes will continue to be credited for his ‘unique’ penalty style… that Jorginho has actually been doing for years.
9) There will be another strong rumour about the first gay premier league player coming out.
10) Only one player with an X in his name will score this season.
Wonder what odds I’ll get on this accumulator?
Ash, CFC, buying everyone and ruining football again, Kent.
Oh I do love silly season which is predicting where teams will finish. We make mugs of ourselves every year buts it’s all fun. However I’m useless at predicting what the table will look like come may so I have a few alternate predictions so here we go:
Own goal of the season: Harry Maguire at Elland Rd. I’ve missed the Man Utd v Leeds games. They’re always feisty. I feel when United visit Elland Rd the home crowd will crank up the volume (providing fans are allowed back in stadiums by April) and it’ll be a hostile atmosphere. Maguire will attempt a back pass, which will go going horribly wrong to everyone’s amusement passed a gormless De Gea
Best/worst red card: Serge Aurier. He’s an accident waiting to happen. He’ll probably do a flying kick on someone ending their season. Think we all agree on this one so moving on…
Team to implode: Its got to be Tottenham. They’ve got Mourinho after all and rather than him having a 3 year cycle I reckon he’ll lose his sh#t by November ending in one of the funniest resignations the league has ever seen.
Team to make everyone lose their sh*t: Man Utd. I loved how everyone was up in arms at the number of penalties we won last season. I expect even more this year much to my amusement and everyone else’s despair.
Worst match of the season: Palace v Burnley. Let’s be honest the football they serve up is dire. Sorry Ed the raven guy but you know this. I expect this to be a dour affair where everyone decides to turn their attention to their lawns to see just how much the grass grows in 90 mins.
Underachievers: I feel Liverpool will not be as good as last year however I’m going with Sheffield United. The old school 4-4-2 will be found out and they’ll struggle. They’ll survive though.
Overachievers: Everton. With the recruitment this year especially midfield I expect them to be challenging Wolves to be best of the rest. I’ve always had a soft spot for them. Must be the enemy of my enemy is my friend type of thing.
Anyway enjoy the ride everyone.
Imran G, Manchester (the red half)