Football

Sportsweek Debate – Where will Liverpool finish in the Premier League this season?

In our newest series of articles, Sportsweek.co.uk will be asking key and interesting questions across the sporting world, giving writers Drew Farmer and Mark Rowbottom the chance to share their opinions. We will then ask YOU, the reader, to join the discussion via the Sportsweek Facebook page. If you agree with our writers please like and share the article. However, if you don’t agree, let us know via your comments. We want to know what you think.

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Today, we ask:

Where will Liverpool finish in the Premier League this season?

Drew Farmer – Predicts 2nd place:

It will be very difficult for Liverpool to repeat their 97 point Premier League season from 2018-19 this term. I know there are a lot of Liverpool supporters out their that believe they can, but coming so close and winning the Champions League, makes me feel like the club may just have a season in which the pedal isn’t to the metal.

As a Liverpool supporter myself, I am trying to be cautious and realistic after last season’s near-miss in the league and expecting too much this term. Given the choice over the Premier League title and Champions League, I would choose the league, since I wasn’t old enough to see the Reds win their last league championship.

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I know a lot shouldn’t be made of the preseason, but Liverpool’s matches against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, and Napoli were poor. The defence was awful in both and the attack was lacking enthusiasm.

Of course, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson Becker, and Roberto Firmino are still missing. Unfortunately, those players have had more strenuous summers this year than when playing at the 2018 World Cup. Will it have a negative effect on the team? I hope not, but again, I’m being a realist. Liverpool’s defence, which was impenetrable a season ago, should be better when the season kicks off and Firmino, Mane, and Salah are back. The trio press defences and prevent teams from getting too far forward.

In terms of transfers, I think Liverpool’s decision thus far to resist spending high prices on players and keeping the team intact is a good one. The problem remains getting the team back up mentally and physically for another 97 points, or more, haul. If there is a manager out there that can achieve such a feat it is Jurgen Klopp.

Since 2001-02, when the Reds finished second for the first time in over a decade, they have failed to repeat the feat in consecutive seasons. No Liverpool squad has managed to finish second — or higher — in back to back years since the end of the 1980s beginning of the 1990s.

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I do believe Liverpool will finish second this term and push Manchester City for most of it. Yet, Pep Guardiola’s side will continue their dominance over the Premier League as they pick up points in the second half of the season. Perhaps that will occur when Manchester City are out of the Champions League once more and Liverpool are still fighting for the trophy.

No other teams in the Premier League can hold a candle to Liverpool and Manchester City. While I’d love nothing more than Liverpool to win their first title in three decades — a first since I was eight-years-old — I’m just worried about a fall off after lifting the Champions League in June. What a great day that was!

Now…over to Mark…

Mark Rowbottom – Predicts 4th place:

I’m afraid my good friend and colleague Drew, whilst trying to be objective and ‘real’, still has his Liverbird sunglasses on and was humming ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ whilst writing his piece…. whilst Liverpool were superb last season and deserved to win the Champions League, I’m afraid it is more than a reach to suggest no other team holds a candle to the Anfield men — and this season will be much more realistic for the Reds than last season — which was a freak result.

I have Manchester City, Tottenham and Manchester United to finish above Liverpool… and the Reds to finish fourth this season. Whilst I know this will means cries of ‘idiot’ and ‘hater’ from the staunch Liverpool fans –here’s why.

As said, last season was a freak season. A superb, amazing, fantastic, exciting, freak — but a freak season nonetheless. It isn’t going happen again guys and gals. Manchester City will likely win the league with some comfort and margin, but the chasing pack are going to be having their own battle for the remaining places and it will be MUCH closer than last season.

No one can disagree that Liverpool enjoyed more than their fair share of luck last season. A distinct lack of injuries, some ridiculous form with last gasp goals (Everton, Spurs to name but two)… scored four more penalties than Manchester City and more than Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal. They led the Premier League in points gained from a losing position (19) — compared to Manchester City who ‘gained’ just four. Now that, it could be argued, demonstrates the focus, drive and intensity of Liverpool. Yes, noted. It also suggests they are more fallible and HAVE to come from behind more than their peers. Can they keep doing that?

Transfers… let’s look at the major incomings at Anfield this season. Right so there is… err… hmm… oh, here we go. Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for £1.3 million. Well, that will get the Premier League quaking in their combined boots. But surely Klopp has some major signings lined up. After all, second in the Premier League and Champions League winners must have money to burn. Yet, Klopp is saying there is a likelihood that Liverpool will make no (more) signings and has to develop from within? Now, I agree the transfer market is crazy mad with hugely inflated fees and wages going about, but that’s modern-day football and Liverpool have played their part in that (Coutinho?).

Manchester City haven’t rested on their comfortable treble-winning laurels breaking their own transfer record with Rodri and chasing the likes of Ben Chilwell, Thiago Almada and Kalidou Koulibaly hard. Tottenham have finally come to the party and have splashed out large on Tanguy Ndombele, and this is a team whom, for the most part, were closest to Liverpool across last season. Spurs should have won at Anfield and know the Champions League final was there for the taking. Despite the ‘crisis’ at Mancheseter United, you have to feel they will be better than last season and are investing in their squad and don’t have the Champions League to worry about this season.

It’s not broken, so why look to fix it? I hear you cry. Well, it only takes an injury or two to key players for it to become broken very quickly. Where’s the depth? Just say for argument’s sake, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane go down for the season early doors — even for three to four months. Are Liverpool then truly 20 points better than everyone else?

What if Allison Becker takes an unfortunate one to the noggin? What if Salah rips his hamstring during another flying raid forward. Are Divock Origi or Rhian Brewster able to keep the Liverpool goal machine rolling? Yes, it happened last season, but a few bits apart, there was no real issues to contend with. Manchester City lost Kevin de Bruyne for half the season and didn’t miss a beat. I’m just saying it could get very messy for Liverpool very quickly if luck isn’t with them this time as it was last season and their squad, in comparison to not just Manchester City, but Manchester United and Spurs look thin.

The Premier League is better for Liverpool being much more than the team they were before Klopp. But history shows that lightning rarely strikes twice where the top six are concerned. A lot of variables fell into place for the Reds last season. I just don’t think they will this season.

Fourth for me. A lot of Klopp hugs, plenty of excuses, but back to TRUE reality (Mr Farmer!) for Liverpool next season. I can see them winning a domestic cup if that helps appease you Reds fans who are now baying for my blood!!

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