A Proper Challenger...

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A new season is nearly here and I am buzzing. It has taken a while to rid May 26th’s nightmare but I’m ready for the new premier league season and it looks like our squad is nearly ready, too.

For starters, what Klopp has done over the last three years in terms of quality of player and style of play is nothing short of amazing. Turning doubters to believers is what he said and many of the doubters are now believers - yet some are still sour pusses. Signed for an initial 3-seasons then he and his staff signed for 6 more years in 2016, so he’s ours for another 4-seasons for now. Danke Klopp.

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More celebrations taking top spot please.

The players that he has brought to Liverpool over the last 2-3 seasons have increased by quality season-by-season, or you might even say the players that were here already have increased in quality, too. Roberto Bobby Firmino is a prime example of a player who’s at the top of his game, the complete number 9. Others like Oxlade-Chamberlain who came from a shattered Arsenal and regained his confidence and potential as well last season - even though he’s sadly out for the now with injury. Henderson, Wijnaldum, Milner have had to change and adapt from their original positions to fill gaps and be ‘new’ players as well, Henderson becoming a deep number-6 type and Wijnaldum going from attacking to holding too, where Milner is a freak and keeps on going all the way.

There are other notable players as well who have followed suit and upped or adjusted their game. Gomez still has some hiccups but has improved, Trent Alexander-Arnold has been fantastic and even Daniel Sturridge looks to be out to prove he’s still got it. Youngsters like Curtis Jones and Ojo as well as Woodburn would be looking to make it to the first-team bench if not starters in early cup games. This is all good and well, but it’s what Klopp and the master negotiator Michael Edwards have done over the last 12 months that has other clubs raising their eyebrows looking over the Reds.

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A bromance partnership with Van Dijk and Lovren

We know of the big successes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, outstanding wingers/attacking forwards who are quick, skillful and have goals in them. One player that we have really taken a liking to is the Dutchman at the back, Virgil Van Dijk. After the failed attempt to sign him during the off season last year we finally got him in January and he’s been immense. Brought calm to the back straight away which had a flow on effect towards Karius in goal and even made Degsy Lovren look a much more composed defender after his shocking first half of the season. VVD should be even better after having a proper pre-season.

“Are you not entertained?” Naby will be entertaining the middle

Signing Naby Keita during last seasons summer transfer window already put the wheels in motion for Klopp and his coaching team, in that the departure of Coutinho (whether it was known he’d leave or not) opened up the possibilities of who would sit in the middle alongside Keita. Nimble, quick and packs a punch, Keita is the player we’ve been waiting for to take over from Gerrard for many years.

The midfield giant

We have players capable of playing there, but Henderson with his long range passing would be best to sit with Keita and the newly signed giant that is Fabinho would be the defensive midfielder we’ve not has since Javier Mascherano nearly 10 years ago.

Big, strong and a leader on the pitch, he would bring much needed stability in that gap between defense and attack for Liverpool which would allow Henderson and Keita to do their thing and feed the ball to our front trio to do their thing. He would also bring some needed relief to the back four as they would feel at ease knowing that this guy is protecting them before they need to get involved, which has us as fans even more relieved...hopefully.

Alisson at work for Brazil

The biggest question mark we’ve had for the better part of three seasons is the number one; who is going to keep the goals out.

Mignolet has been a decent keeper but is not up to standard and Karius was touted as a solid keeper coming from Mainz in the Bundesliga a couple of seasons ago but hasn’t lived up to the expectation. Add that with shaky performances, spilled catches, bad clearances and a passive commanding of his penalty area it was clear that something needed to be done. Enter Brazil’s number one and the now most expensive goalkeeper in football: Alisson Becker.

The former Roma goalkeeper will bring much needed stability and calm in goal that should spread throughout the team, much like Van Dijk’s presence. He’s big, agile and is good on the ball - just what a ball playing team needs - so I expect Alisson to be the keeper we need that compliments the outfield 11. I look forward to seeing him save, catch, clear and command his area like a proper goalkeeper should.

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Swiss Army Man Shaqiri

Shaqiri is the wildcard for me. He’s quick, good on the ball, can create and score cracking goals, but it’s his versatility that has me keen to see him on the pitch. Much like Salah, Shaqiri plays on the wing and floats central, however he does operate cutting from wide to the inside. He may be small but he’s built like a tank for his size, is no pushover and can get in peoples faces - just what we need, some bastardry in this squad. He can be a Swiss army knife in football terms, can be what we need him to be on the pitch in the middle and forward ranks.

A lot has been made of our signings so far and looking at the other big six there isn’t much going on with them. Chelsea made the deal for Jorginho from Monaco, United brought in Fred from ,City have Mahrez from Leicester and Spurs haven’t signed anyone yet - at the time of writing this anyway. Arsenal are the other team who are looking at starting a fresh under Unay Emery and have already signed Lichtsteiner Lucas Torreira, Bernd Leno and Soktaris Papastathopoulos. They’ve been in need of freshening up for a long time and they will need to stick with these players and go forward from there, it’s a rebuild for them much like the last three seasons have been for us.

In terms of what we’re up against, as mentioned above, there’s not much changed in opposition personnel apart from the odd player here and there. City will go in with the same players, as will United, Spurs and Chelsea (I haven’t included Everton in case you’re wondering as their not in the top 6 which is my focus - sorry lads). If we look at what has made these clubs probably better defensively than us is that they all have a dedicated defensive midfielder who sits, screens and breaks up the attack. City have Fernandinho, United have Matic, Chelsea have Kante and Spurs have Dembele.

With the players and improvements we’ve made to fill the gaps in our game we should be on a much more even playing field for this season.

Van Dijk improved us defensively straight away. Ox gave our midfield and attack a new edge. Salah scored goals for fun and ran around defenders. A proper keeper, a box-to-box dynamo in the middle, a trickster on the wing and a giant in front of the back four: this has been a long time coming for Liverpool FC.

Will this FINALLY be our year? I don’t know, I’m not one who claims every new season will be ours. But, with the squad we have gathered, the players and their abilities and the madman manager that we have in Klopp I am dreaming of another fantastic season ahead with silverware added to the cabinet by mid-May 2019.

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Could it be Liverpool come May 2019?