Before the commencement of the English Premier League for 2022/2023, there was an element of the unknown about Liverpool’s performances. Again, under the managership of the German coach, Jurgen Klopp, the team lost the services of Sadio Mane, who moved on to play in Germany for Bayern Munich. To compensate for the loss of Mane, the Merseyside outfit ventured out to procure young talent led by the recruitment of Darwin Nunez from the Portuguese side, Benfica. Nunez hails from Uruguay and plays as a striker. A few days into the new season, the Liverpool management recognised some deficiencies in the midfield of the squad and quickly referred to the transfer market to engage an experienced player who could give the team the required punch in the middle of the park. They opted to recruit Arthur de Oliveira Melo on loan from Juventus. Melo, a Brazilian international player, played for Barcelona and Juventus. But is the composition of Liverpool’s squad strong enough to stop Manchester City from procuring a hat-trick of the Premier League title and shove off challenges from other teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United?
Out with the old, in with the new
Operating within the transfer market, Liverpool managed to secure the service of Mohammed Salah for another three years. Salah is a very important player for Jurgen Klopp, and after losing Mane, he made it clear to the Liverpool ownership that Salah must stay at Anfield. It was equally important to remove as early as possible any contract distractions aimed at having Salah mentally prepared to start a new season with Liverpool. The team also managed to procure Calvin Ramsay’s service from the Scottish side Aberdeen. The new signing, together with previous signings of Luis Daiz and Ibrahima Konate, the Merseyside seemed well equipped to challenge for the title, or it so seemed on paper.
That said, probably, the best and smartest move made by the owners of Liverpool football club was to convince their manager to commit himself to the team until 2026. Jurgen Klopp, with the encouragement of his wife, was convinced to extend his contract making him one of the most long-serving managers in the English Premier League.
The FIFA world cup is the focus on everyone’s mind
Like any other big team in England and globally, Liverpool’s chances of winning the Premier League will be disrupted by the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. For the first time in the history of the World Cup, the finals will be held during the winter months, November and December, rather than the summer period. It is expected that half of Liverpool’s squad will be involved in the tournament. The only consolation for Jurgen Klopp is that Egypt, Colombia and Scotland failed to make it to the World Cup finals, thus having Salah, Diaz and Andy Robertson at Liverpool’s training grounds and away from the stress and possible injury of the World Cup tournament.
A positive start to this year’s season
This season’s campaign was very positive for Liverpool, beating Manchester City in the Community Shield fixture 3-1. The team’s new signing, Darwin Nunez, stole the headlines with a super cameo appearance to help the Merseyside win the Shield. Nunez’s performance on the day outshined the multi-million Manchester City’s signing, Erling Haaland. The Community Shield is done and dusted; Liverpool started their Premier League campaign with two draws against Fulham and Crystal Palace and lost to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Following their dismal performance at Old Trafford, the Merseyside squad beat Bournemouth and Newcastle 9-0 and 2-1, respectively, and drew 1-1 against their “sporting cousins” Everton and Brighton 3-3. In the UEFA Champions League campaign, Liverpool was thrashed 4-1 by the Italian team, Napoli, and won 2-1 against the Dutch side of Ajax.
Is this the same Liverpool of last season?
This season’s version and performances of the team are very much inferior to previous seasons when Liverpool was the team to beat. It looks pretty clear that continuing on this trend, Liverpool has not got what it takes to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title. Based on these facts and the performances of other established clubs, it looks certain that the title will not return to Anfield. At the moment, it is looking increasingly likely that Arsenal is the real deal in the English Premier League. The Gunners have already managed to make it seven wins from eight games, and the only defeat for Arsenal came at Old Trafford against Manchester United. On the current form, it looks well within Arsenal’s grip to finish at the top of the Premier League for the first time since 2017.
Manchester City is the top team to beat
In addition to Gunner’s brilliant start to the Premier League, Liverpool faces another huge challenge from the current Premier League Champions, Manchester City. The Citizens have acquired the services of the Norwegian goal-scoring machine, Erling Haaland. Haaland is a born goal scorer and has already shown his skills and talents in England, netting fourteen goals in the first eight games. At the moment, Haaland has twice as many goals as the next top scorer in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspurs’ Harry Kane and Aleksander Mitrovic of Fulham, who has netted six goals.
Having top-quality players like Kevin De Bruyne, Joao Cancelo, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and IIlay Gundogan to support and provide the services to Haaland, Manchester City is also a strong contender to retain the title in England. Pep Guardiola’s team will also suffer from the disruption of the World Cup and the team’s participation in the UEFA Champions League. However, with the number of talented players available, the team should retain the pace in its journey towards winning the English Premier League.
Other teams that are not a big threat to Liverpool
Other teams currently doing better than Liverpool include Tottenham Hotspurs, who, under the managership of the Italian manager, Antonio Conte, has made great stride and improved their game immensely. Surprisingly, Brighton has just lost its coach to Chelsea and recruited the Italian manager De Zerbi and; the Blues hailing from Stamford Bridge in London. Maybe, the only consolation that Merseyside has is that their football rivals, the Red Devils, are not doing so well!!
The journey towards the title for the Premier League remains open until the last days of the campaign. One needs to see how the FIFA World Cup in Qatar will affect the players and the teams. How players will react to the stress and possible injuries and how these consequences will impact the performance of their teams.