Last year was widely regarded as a successful season for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool as they qualified for the Champions League for just the second time in seven years. The fourth placed Premier League finish that they secured was their highest since the 2013/14 season – famous for the Gerard slip against Chelsea which eventually saw them lose out on the title by just two points to Manchester City.
After losing the Europa League final to Sevilla in the 2015/16 season and finishing 8th in the table, last year was one without European football for the Reds. They also exited the FA Cup in the 4th round and were out of the EFL Cup at the semi final stage in January. That lack of other commitments may have assisted the strong finish which saw Jurgen Klopp’s side hold off the late challenge of Arsenal to take 4th spot and qualify for this year’s Champions League.
The question that remains to be sufficiently answered is whether the Reds will struggle with the twin focus of European and domestic football this season, or we are witnessing the start of a new era on Merseyside under inspirational manager Jurgen Klopp. There were few teams more enjoyable to watch last season as Liverpool employed a high-octane style of play, and hopes are high going into the 2017/18 season.
Two eye-catching signings in the summer window are the £34 million capture of Roma winger Mohammed Salah, and the acquisition of young Chelsea striker Dominic Solanke. 19 year-old England youth player Solanke may be one for the future, but Salah will be expected to play a big role alongside the pacy and direct Mane, Lallana and Firmino.
The future of playmaker Philippe Coutinho is still uncertain as Barcelona continue to make overtures in his direction. If the proposed sale of Neymar to PSG goes through in the coming weeks, Liverpool could be vulnerable to losing one of their outstanding players.
Another incoming signing has been the capture of Scottish international left-back Andrew Robertson from Hull, and although he isn’t a glamour buy, he is the type of player who will fit very naturally into Klopp’s style of football. There have been no really damaging departures, and this Liverpool squad looks better than any since Luis Suarez left for Barcelona three seasons ago.
Liverpool have never won a Premier League – they last won a title in 1989/90 – but if you fancy them to break that duck the Reds can be backed at +1200 with various bookmakers.
That’s not a bet for the faint of heart though, and a different market catches our eye on the domestic front. Roberto Firmino is +450 with Bet365 to finish as Liverpool’s top goalscorer in the Premier League, and that makes plenty of appeal. The favourite to win that internal competition is Sadio Mane who had an excellent first season at Anfield, but Firmino is a regular in the side and his figures from last year suggest he is a fair shout next year. The striker scored 12 goals in last year’s Premier League, third in the club scoring charts behind Coutinho (14) and Sane (13).
Another recommended bet is to back against Liverpool finishing in the top four again. -110 with Paddy Power and Betfair. The Reds have only had two top four finishes in the last eight seasons, and this one is shaping up to be as competitive as ever.
Both Manchester clubs have invested heavily in new players and both are expected to be in the title mix. Chelsea were highly impressive in winning last year’s title, and it would be a big surprise if Conte’s men dropped out of the leading quartet. Arsenal are hurting after finishing 5th last season, but a year without Champions League football may aid them domestically. Spurs are also strong contenders and it won’t be easy for Liverpool to take a top four finish for the second season running. They were 17 points behind Chelsea in the final table last term, but only a point above Arsenal as they held off the Gunners in 5th.
If you fancy Liverpool to emulate the heroics of the 2004/05 season in which they won the Champions League, they are available at a huge +3500 with 888Sport. While those odds may be tempting, it’s hard to make a case for the Reds going all the way in Europe’s most competitive tournament.
Klopp has finished runner up and reached the semi finals of the EFL Cup during his spell at Anfield, but has been knocked out of the FA Cup in the fourth round in each of the last two seasons. With European football to contend with as well as the Premier League, one suspects that cup competitions will play second fiddle. The German manager has never showed any restraint when it comes to fielding ‘weaker’ sides in these tournaments, so any bet in the two cups must be treated with caution.
Roberto Firmino to be Liverpool’s top league goalscorer
Liverpool not to finish in the top four
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