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Are Liverpool really Premier League title contenders
13 September 2018, 17:04
Are Liverpool really Premier League title contenders

Liverpool return from the international break as the Premier League’s top team. Thanks to goal difference, Jurgen Klopp’s side leads the table. Liverpool have sat top of the table early in the season before only to come crashing down in the end. Is this Liverpool different and are they really Premier League title contenders?

Klopp addressed two key areas in the offseason. The first was defence as the club signed goalkeeper Alisson Becker to replace mistake-prone players Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius. Alisson’s performances in goal have already saved Liverpool a few times. Despite his ridiculous Cruyff Turn mistake against Leicester that led to a goal, Alisson has been solid for the Reds.

The other area addressed by Klopp was the team’s depth. Last season, Liverpool were thin on the bench. Outside of the team’s starting XI, there were few dangermen waiting to come on. This season has seen the additions of Naby Keita, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri. There is now competition for places in the team and capable backup players on the bench.

Liverpool have benefited from a soft schedule to open the season. West Ham, Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Leicester were all beaten with just one goal conceded by Liverpool’s defence. While West Ham was dominated, the Crystal Palace win was laboured and ugly.

Brighton nearly snatched a draw, but Alisson’s late game save prevented that from occurring. Liverpool should have won against Leicester by far more, but a poor second half allowed the home team back into the match. Mohamed Salah had an uncharacteristically poor performance which was called the worst of his Liverpool career.

Yet, Liverpool’s win in spite of Salah’s poor performance shows the growth that Liverpool have made this season. Last year, Liverpool would have capitulated without Salah on the pitch. Without the Egyptian, Liverpool’s players lacked confidence in 2017-18. The Champions League Final was the perfect example of them crumbling without Salah.

Liverpool’s defence has allowed just one goal this term. Klopp hasn’t had the chance to play his preferred centre-back duo from a year ago as both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have been recovering from injuries. Instead, Klopp has turned to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez. Dutch international Van Dijk was signed to be the central defensive stopper for Liverpool.

He has excelled in the heart of defence and made Liverpool much tougher. Gomez has been on the periphery of the team for years. Originally used as a left-back, injuries continually derailed his bid to be a regular. Finally, he is getting his chance at centre-back, his natural position.

The season is about to become far more difficult for Liverpool. Klopp will lead his side out against Tottenham on Saturday at Wembley. Liverpool will then play Chelsea and Manchester City in back to back weeks to finish September. There is also the matter of the Champions League with games against Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli in the coming weeks. Liverpool cannot forget about an EFL Cup fixture against Chelsea on September 26th either.

Fixtures are set to come fast and furious for Liverpool. Depth will play a big part from here on out as Klopp attempts to keep Liverpool a top the Premier League. Liverpool have the tools to stay Premier League leaders, but Klopp must keep them from making the mistakes that plagued them in the past.

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OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Manchester City 32 12 10 2 0 36 5 31
2. Liverpool FC 30 12 9 3 0 23 5 18
3. Chelsea FC 28 12 8 4 0 27 8 19
4. Tottenham 27 12 9 0 3 20 10 10
5. Arsenal 24 12 7 3 2 26 15 11
6. Bournemouth 20 12 6 2 4 21 16 5
7. Watford FC 20 12 6 2 4 17 14 3
8. Manchester United 20 12 6 2 4 20 21 -1
9. Everton FC 19 12 5 4 3 19 15 4
10. Leicester City 17 12 5 2 5 17 16 1
11. Wolverhampton 16 12 4 4 4 12 13 -1
12. Brighton 14 12 4 2 6 13 18 -5
13. West Ham 12 12 3 3 6 14 18 -4
14. Newcastle Utd 9 12 2 3 7 9 15 -6
15. Burnley FC 9 12 2 3 7 12 25 -13
16. Crystal Palace 8 12 2 2 8 8 17 -9
17. Southampton 8 12 1 5 6 8 21 -13
18. Cardiff City 8 12 2 2 8 11 25 -14
19. Huddersfield 7 12 1 4 7 6 22 -16
20. Fulham FC 5 12 1 2 9 11 31 -20

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