Can Jurgen Klopp finally end Liverpool's title drought
Written by: Abhranil Roy
The former Dortmund boss has re-introduced the long-lost winning mentality to Anfield and will be looking to build on last season's brilliant finish.
If there was a Premier League team that could embody mankind’s eternal revolt against hopelessness, it would undoubtedly be Liverpool. The Merseysiders won their last title in 1989-1990 and despite coming close on a number of occasions; they have failed to lift the coveted crown again. This season, however, the Reds have one of the best squads in the league and they can afford to be really optimistic about the upcoming campaign.
Under Jurgen Klopp, the team have progressed by leaps and bounds. Ever since his appointment in October 2015, Klopp has managed to implement his famous “gegenpressing” system. He conceptualized it during his time in Germany with Mainz and perfected it during his reign at Borussia Dortmund. With the likes of Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandoski and Marco Reus in the team, he won two Bundesliga titles and made it to the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Watch: Liverpool's road to 2017/18 Champions League final
At Anfield, Klopp has integrated the same system with even greater efficiency. Pressing together in zones, defending narrow and using the width to counter-attack, the Reds have been an exciting team to watch over the past few years. Last season, they went on a thrilling run in the Champions League which saw them go all the way to the final, but ultimately fall prey to the inimitable Real Madrid. Led by the irresistible Mohamed Salah, the Kopites were a treat for the eyes, but being a top-heavy side, they were outfoxed by a much more balanced Madrid outfit.
That defeat, however, did not demoralize or deter Klopp. He went about addressing the issues plaguing the side, most of which were in midfield. As such, they roped in Naby Keita, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri in the summer to create a team whose squad depth can probably only be matched by champions Manchester City.
Keita is capable of playing as either a box-to-box or a central midfielder, his skills sharpened in the same league in which Klopp made a name for himself. With RB Leipzig, the Guinean was one of the most exciting players to watch and he will be sure to flourish in a system that is built around fluid pressing and fast passing.
Fabinho can slot in the as the utility player who can feature in both midfield and as a full-back. He was an integral part of the AS Monaco side that ended PSG’s hegemony at the top of Ligue 1 the season before last and also featured the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar. Shaqiri has had an underwhelming career so far, having been signed from relegated Stoke City. The Swiss, however, had an impressive World Cup and will come handy during a long and exhausting season.
Watch: All 2017/18 Premier League goals scored by Liverpool
The front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Salah ran riot against both Premier League and European opposition and will look to pick up from where they left off last season. With a better midfield in place, they will be getting even better service than they got last term. At the back, Virgil van Dijk will be at the heart of it all. Having arrived from Southampton in January, this will be his first full season at the club.
He is easily one of the best centre-backs in the league and having completed an entire pre-season, he will be raring to go. Liverpool has also paid a record amount of money for AS Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The Brazilian arrived for £67m and is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world currently. Under him, the Kopites can be assured of having a safe pair of hands which will not make the kind of errors that Loris Karius made during that fateful game against Real Madrid.
All in all, it suffices to say that one would be hard-pressed to find a better, fitter and a more balanced Liverpool squad in recent years than the one currently training at Melwood. Klopp has torn down the spine of a beleaguered club and it seems that the red half of Merseyside can dare to dream once again.
Published: Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:44 AM IST