It’s not long until the summer break concludes and Premier League football is back on our screens. The Women’s World Cup, Copa America, and Africa Cup of Nations are a nice distraction but nothing beats the proper season. Manchester City are looking to become the first side in a decade to win three consecutive Premier League titles. The championship was settled by just one point last term but will Liverpool make up the gap and lift their first title in 30 years?
Liverpool and Manchester City were the best two sides in England by far last season. They had squads overflowing with talent, were managed by extraordinary coaches, and played some wonderful football. There was little to separate them in the Premier League title race but City pulled through in the end. The Reds craved silverware of their own and got it in the form of the UEFA Champions League. However, there’s a feeling that both sides would gladly have swapped places.
Manchester City have never won the Champions League, while Liverpool have never won the Premier League title. Their last English league honour was way back in 1990 and the time of player/manager Kenny Dalglish. Now, it is a whole new squad of players under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. The German hasn’t won a league title since his success with Borussia Dortmund in 2012 and is determined to change that.
“We wanted to write our own history and we did,” Klopp told BBC Sport last month.
“The team made so many big steps in the last year. We made a much bigger jump development wise.
“The boys pushed themselves to new levels, which I love, and that development and improvement is not finished. It is the first try. This team is one of the best that ever played for Liverpool; 100%.
“As long as Manchester City are around with their financial power, no team will pass them easily. We need to be very close to perfection to win the Premier League as long as this is the case.”
He isn’t wrong on that last point. Manchester City’s spending power will make it difficult for any side to surpass them this season. Pep Guardiola’s men are yet to strengthen during this transfer window but that won’t last long. Atletico Madrid’s Rodri and the England international Harry Maguire have been cited as potential signings.
Both players would represent replacements for two long-term City players. Vincent Kompany has already left the club and 34-year-old Fernandinho can’t be far behind. Another City star heading for the exit door is David Silva. He has announced that this will be his final season with City and a replacement must be found for the Spaniard.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, the rival clubs will push Liverpool close. Tottenham Hotspur were a full 27 points behind City but are looking to strengthen. Christian Eriksen may be heading for the exit door but Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele could be his replacement.
Across North London, Arsenal are closing in on Celtic’s Kieran Tierney and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. The winger’s Palace teammate Aaron Wan-Bissaka looks likely to join Manchester United, while Chelsea have attempted to replace Eden Hazard with the American Christian Pulisic. The money is also there for the rest of the teams in the league. We all know the financial value of being a Premier League club today.
And Liverpool must keep up with their rivals. They are the 9/4 second-favourites to lift the title next May on Betway as of 26 June. City are the clear favourites at 4/6 so the onus is on Liverpool to improve. The Reds have added a number of quality players in recent years but their first-team squad is a little thin. The departures of Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, and Alberto Moreno only add to that. The former two are free to join any rival club. It’s becoming more common with many good players leaving on free transfers every season. The Reds will want another attacking option as well as a midfielder and some defensive cover.
One option appears to be Lille’s Nicholas Pepe. The exciting attacker had a breakout season in Ligue 1 and looks set for a big-money move this summer. The Reds aren’t alone in eyeing the Ivory Coast international with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain keen. Another potential arrival is the Portuguese international Bruno Fernandes.
Whomever the Reds sign, it’s clear that their focus will be on the Premier League title next season. Jurgen Klopp’s side lost just one match all season – that 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in January – and it cost them the championship. Guardiola’s men will surely want to make up for the disappointment of last season in the UEFA Champions League. That could work in the Reds’ favour.
Liverpool have gotten a little fortunate with injury problems in the last year or so. Should one of Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, or Allison Becker pick up a knock then the starting lineup looks a great deal weaker. Obviously, players of that quality are hard to come by but City have a far greater strength in depth in their squad. Liverpool will be looking to keep up over the summer and if they can then there’s no reason why that 30-year wait for the title won’t come to an end.