Its been more than Twenty-five years since Liverpool won the Premier League Tittle. Following a summer of brilliant acquisitions by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, will he at long last end the Reds’ Premier League hoodoo with his three African talents?
Liverpool kicked off the new Premier League season with a comprehensive 4-0 win over West Ham to lay down their early season title credentials. Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for the hosts and Sadio Mane put the game beyond doubt with strikes either side of half-time, before Daniel Sturridge netted with his first touch off the bench late on.
Mane was signed from Southampton in the summer, and the Senegal forward had an immediate impact in the 16/17 side.
Liverpool carried a greater goalscoring threat with the attacker in the side, and his influence was apparent as the Reds ended in the top four for the first time since 2014/15.
Mane ended with 13 league goals, and while that stat in isolation might threaten to water down his efforts, it should be noted that he missed January while on Nations Cup duty, before getting ruled out of the final two months of the campaign after suffering an injury in his side’s 3-1 derby win over Everton.
That didn’t stop him from being included in the PFA Team of the Year while being voted Liverpool Player of the Year. It was perhaps the first key on-field Klopp component of a title-winning team.
Sadio Mané is the first Liverpool player to score in three consecutive opening top-flight fixtures since John Barnes between 1989-90 and 1991-92 as Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 in their opening game of the season.
Last season, though, saw an outstanding individual in Salah come through the door at Anfield.
The former Roma wideman blew the achievements of Mane’s inaugural season out of the water in what has to go down as arguably the best individual season in Premier League history.
Salah amazingly shattered tons of records in his first year in Merseyside; not least his 32 league goals which saw him better the joint 31-goal record of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez – set in 2007/08 and 2013/14 respectively.
With 44 strikes in all competitions for Liverpool, he surpassed Robbie Fowler’s 1995/96 haul of 36, while crushing Fernando Torres’s debut season total of 33. When you consider Fowler set his record in 53 games and Torres in 46, the fact Salah achieved his feat in 52 appearances makes it even more impressive.
The unstoppable Egyptian’s performances consequently, and deservedly, saw him named PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
Salah is no one-season wonder
A lot of rival fans thought – or, rather, hoped – that Salah would suffer from the fabled difficult second season syndrome. Surely defenders would work him out or double up? Perhaps the shoulder injury picked up in the Champions League final would hamper him? Keep dreaming. The Egyptian picked up precisely where he left off last season and looks eager to keep hold of his Golden Boot.
Klopp and Salah – who scored eight Champions League goals, a Liverpool record shared with Roberto Firmino who had the same tally – saw the Anfield club progress to a first UCL final since 2007.
They lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in May but they were greatly crippled by the Egyptian’s early withdrawal.
There are no ifs and buts in football, yet with their goalscoring machine in the game, Liverpool definitely stood a higher chance against the Spanish giants… without him, they were always up against it!
The German tactician’s gone on to add former RasenBallsport Leipzig midfield general Naby Keita, and besides the fact that he’ll take over Steven Gerrard’s iconic No 8 shirt, the Guinea international will add some power and gusto to the Reds in the middle of the park.
Keita has been likened to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante by some but that assumption doesn’t tell half the story of the West African’s class.
Keita shines performance on his first Premier game of the season shows exactly why Liverpool were so desperate to sign Guinean International Naby Keita, securing a deal a year in advance of his arrival
The midfield man’s ability on the ball is greatly underrated, while he also offers a threat in the opponents’ box with his tendency to time his runs perfectly to finish off moves.
Granted, Klopp has yet to record success in any competition so far but it’d be strange not to admit his impact at the club.
Admittedly, Liverpool sometimes seem like a cup team incapable of mounting any serious challenge in the league, but with the recent additions and depth in the side, they appear set to push Pep Guardiola’s side closer than any team did last year.
Recent history, in relation to winning the league, favours the Merseyside club too, as no side since Manchester United in 2008/09 has retained the title.
Popular opinion in recent years stated the Anfield club needed a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward; Klopp has duly obliged with the aforementioned purchases of Alisson, van Dijk, and Fabinho, while Firmino has proved he can be that frontman for the Reds.
Add the trio of Mane, Salah and Keita and you sense this could be the five-time European champions’ year, but they’ll have to maintain a high level of consistency all year.
To have a chance, the trio of Salah, Mane and Keita will need to play huge roles in bringing the trophy back to Merseyside.
The signings of Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have put Liverpool top of the pile of teams aiming to wrest the title from a Manchester City side that blew everyone away last year.
When you consider the winter purchase of Virgil van Dijk and the acquisitions of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the two previous summer transfer windows, you have a strong idea just why critics believe this could be Liverpool’s year.