Liverpool finished a disappointing eighth last season, though they had two runners-up finish in the Europa League and the League Cup to show in their progress card. These positive results were attained under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp, who took over the managerial responsibilities of Liverpool in October, replacing Brendan Rodgers.
There were talks that Klopp was forced to work with a team of players that was signed up by Rodgers. But coming to this new season, Klopp has already made some changes, selling some players, and more importantly bringing in footballers, who suit his style. Some of the signings include Joel Matip, Sadio Mane, Marko Grujic and Georginio Wijnaldum, and all these stars put up impressive performances during the preseason.
Liverpool were one of the first English Premier teams to start preseason training, and they fared decently, but their real test lies when Klopp's team start the domestic competition this weekend. Liverpool might have defeated Barcelona 4-0 of late, but those results count to nothing if they do not get their game right when it matters the most in the league.
However, Klopp, who loves his teams to play high pressing football, wants his players to be fit. Hence it comes as no surprise that the German had some strict training regime in the lead up to the domestic competition.
Liverpool have some tough fixtures in their opening few matches. They start off against Arsenal on Sunday, and will face teams like Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Chelsea in their first five matches. Liverpool have to play some of their best football in the start of the season, and a series of wins can take the confidence level of Klopp's team to another high.
However, what we clearly know is that Liverpool will be playing a high-pressing game, and one should not be surprised if Klopp opts for false number nine with Roberto Firmino or Sadio Mane. The German also has the option of starting with Daniel Sturrdidge or Divock Origi if he wants to.
Liverpool have an array of attacking players like Firmino, Mane, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana in the midfield, which makes them a huge threat. All these players have goals in them from midfield, which is what Klopp must be eyeing. With players like Marko Grujic and Wijnaldum, Liverpool have brought in footballers, who can play in various positions, adding that versatility in the squad, which was lacking last season.
Klopp made some signings in all the important departments, which needed improvement, including centre back. He has brought two experienced central defenders, including Matip and Klavan. But their real concern last season was the erratic performance of Alberto Moreno, and Liverpool have not got any replacement so far. As a result, they have played James Milner in left-back, and the England international could continue the same role if he performs decently.
Players signed in transfer window : Joel Matip (from Schalke), Loris Karius (FSV Mainz 05), Sadio Mane (Southampton), Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg), Alex Manninger (Augsburg) Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United).
Sold: Joao Carlos Teixeira (to Porto),Jerome Sinclair (Watford), Kolo Toure (released)
Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town), Jordan Rossiter (Rangers), Danny Ward (Huddersfield Town on loan ), Jose Enrique (released), Samed Yesil (released) Sergi Canos (Norwich City)
Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce) Jordon Ibe (AFC Bournemouth) Adam Bogdan (Wigan Athletic) Loan Joe Allen (Stoke City),Brad Smith (AFC Bournemouth), Jon Flanagan (Burnley on loan)
Irrespective of the formation and the team, which Klopp picks for the starting eleven, they need to get off to a fantastic start. A good start is always encouraging, considering Liverpool will only play two big teams — Manchester United and Manchester City — until the end of 2016, after their match against Chelsea on Sep. 16.
So there it is. A fine start should help them achieve great things in the upcoming season. With Liverpool not featuring in Europe, Reds have a huge advantage of less football compared to other teams in the EPL. This should keep them fresh for domestic matches in England.
After a fairy-tale performance from Leicester, who won the title last season, the race for the title is open. With top managers in the fray, including Jose Mourinho (Manchester United), Antonio Conte (Chelsea), Pep Guardiola (Manchester City), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal), they are all huge contenders to win the title. However, Klopp should not aim too much from the season, and take one match at a time, with Champions League qualification being their major objective. Anything beyond that should be a bonus for Liverpool.