A Little Bit of History…
When Liverpool became English league champions for the 18th time after the 1989/90 season was over, nobody would have believed that 30 years would pass until this legendary club lifted the trophy again. It seemed implausible, but that’s how the story played out. A series of close calls and near misses was the story of those three decades, and clubs that were once in Liverpool’s shadow (Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs) were soon leaving them in their wake.
The arrival of charismatic manager Jürgen Klopp (below) in October 2015 was the gamechanger. Apparently being pursued by Chelsea to take over at Stamford Bridge, Liverpool moved quickly to secure the services of the man who had taken over an underperforming Borussia Dortmund side and led them to challenge a dominant Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
Success came quickly to the red side of the city, and they could have secured the league title a season early. Judged on pure footballing excellence, the 2018/19 Premier League season may be the greatest in English football history. For those that weren’t lucky enough to see it, the quality of football was exceptional, like nothing we’d seen before. Liverpool and Manchester City went head-to-head from the opening match to the final whistle.
They finally finished as runners-up to Manchester City, but they only lost one league game all season. In fact, they were unbeaten at Anfield in the league for the second season in a row and equalled the club record of 30 league wins in one season. Their final points tally was 97, the third-highest total in the history of the English top division and the most points scored by a team without winning the title. However, they did add a sixth Champions League title to their buckling trophy cabinet.
The Premier League title finally made its way back to Anfield 12 months ago, but after their spectacular, record-setting triumph in the 2019/20 Premier League season, Liverpool hit something of a slump in the last campaign. Struggling to maintain the sky-high standards that they’d previously set, and hit with injuries to key players, they never really established a genuine championship defence, winning less games and scoring fewer goals. Even a top four finish was looking seriously in doubt at one point. After a disastrous February/March, the team rallied, winning eight of the final 10 matches and finishing the season in the Champions League places.
The Season Ahead…
2021/22 should be different, and Liverpool are in position to challenge for the Premier League title once again. In Jürgen Klopp, they have one of the best managers in the world, and he’s sculpted a dynamic, exhilarating football team. When Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah are on top form, they have possibly the most devastating front line in world club football, with exceptional back-up provided by Diogo Jota. Liverpool have a squad that oozes quality; Fabinho has been unparalleled in the defensive midfield position since his arrival at the club in 2018. His versatility to play in different defensive roles is extraordinary.
Club captain Jordan Henderson has seemingly replaced the irreplaceable Steven Gerrard as the heart and soul of the team, and the brilliant Virgil van Dijk is now back from terrible knee injury he suffered in October 2020. Perhaps the one slight dissapointment has been Naby Keïta, who hasn’t yet shown the talent that secured him his $66 million move to Liverpool two years ago. But, at 26-years-old, there’s plenty of time to shine.
In summer transfers so far, the club have signed defender Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig for around $45 million and are rumoured to be in the market for Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Adama Traore.
As far as players leaving, there have been several departures, including Georginio Wijnaldum moving to PSG and the highly regarded Harry Wilson signing for Fulham on a permanent deal, a move that surprised many. There are also stories circulating that midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri could be on his way out too.
Location Liverpool, Merseyside
Stadium Anfield (53,394 capacity)
20/21 Final League Position 3rd
Opening Game of 21/22 Season away at Norwich City
21/22 Predicted Final League Position 3rd
A place in the top four shouldn’t be a problem for Liverpool, especially if they can carry over the form that they showed at the end of last season. But with Manchester City breaking transfer records to add more quality to their squad, and an invigorated Chelsea on the rise, a 20th league title might be just out of their grasp.