Manchester City are expected to continue last season’s Premier League dominance and be the first side to retain the title since Manchester United did over a decade ago. But expectations are by no means guarantees. Liverpool have shown from their early season form that they are up for the challenge.
Jurgen Klopp is excited at the prospect of unseating the current champions. Head-to-head the German is the only manager in the game that has the better of Pep Guardiola. However, he has always played second fiddle when it comes to league table finishes. From their days managing Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in Germany to Liverpool and Manchester City, it’s been the same story.
But after last season’s exploits of being the only manager to beat the Spaniard in three out of four matches and back-to-back, at a time when Man City were supposedly untouchable, anyone would grow in confidence. Klopp is now on a personal mission to prove he can also do it on the table.
Although he concedes that Man City and Guardiola are favorites for the title, he has not hidden his intention to go for it this season. From pre-season interviews to breaking transfer records it has become clear Klopp is ready to go for the jugular.
Liverpool already had one of the best squads in Europe last term. A top four finish and reaching the Champions League final with record goals scored in the competition was no accident. The club boasts of one of the best front three partnerships on the continent.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest goalscorer in the UCL last season. But the next three top scorers on the chart were all Liverpool players. The club’s front three all reached double figures in the competition. They had a knack for simply outscoring opponents to progress. So even a goalkeeping problem could not stop them, except in the final where Real Madrid took full advantage of goalkeeping errors and the injury to their talisman.
Speaking of who is the reigning PFA Player of the Year. Mohamed Salah came from nowhere to steal the headlines from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi with his scintillating displays. The Egyptian even outscored the reigning Ballon d’Or winner in the league. Salah has been pure gold for Klopp and Liverpool. Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino complete a deadly trio that ripped Man City apart last term.
But the German manager has gone a step further to add steel to the squad. Naby Keita in midfield brings to mind the days of a certain Steven Gerrard at Anfield. And then there is former Monaco sensation Fabinho providing quality depth to the team.
However, the biggest difference maker, it appears is Brazilian first choice goalie Alisson Becker in goal. Alisson made headlines in Italy as one of the best goalkeepers in the game. Liverpool swooped. What is it with the Merseysiders doing to Roma what Barcelona does to them?
Anyway, when Philippe Coutinho left the club to join Barcelona many felt Liverpool would collapse. But Salah stepped up to become the main man. January signing Virgil van Dijk came in and perfectly filled the hole in defence thereby improving the team. His manager calls him cheap for his quality.
The new additions have made a good team great. Suddenly the Reds are looking like the best team in the land after three rounds of matches. Seven goals scored. None conceded. Five of the seven goals scored by two of the front three. Defensive solidity. Goalkeeping safe hands. Strength in depth.
When you add all these together, should Guardiola and the Citizens be concerned?
It’s undeniable, we already miss our star player. Kevin De Bruyne could have made a difference against Wolves. City laboured to a 1-1 draw. The manager called it a good point. I don't think so. The competition this season will be fierce. Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and even Manchester United have one thing in mind: to dethrone City.
Liverpool look the most likely to do that at the moment. But will they be able to do it come May? It’s still too early to say. But if they keep up this early form, which they are capable of, Guardiola may have a rethink about dropping points against newly promoted sides (or any side for that matter) if the Reds don't drop many.