But will Liverpool end their league title drought after 29 years in May? We assess the strength of their squad to see how well-equipped they are for a proper title tilt.
Liverpool have made a blistering start to the season with six league wins from six matches
The Reds sit top of the Premier League on 18 points with their perfect record still in tact
This position caused Liverpool fans all kind of angst over the past couple of seasons as first Simon Mignolet and then Loris Karius made their share of mistakes.
Things came to a head, of course, during last season’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid when Karius gifted the Spanish side two goals.
It confirmed for Klopp that a reliable goalkeeper must be bought regardless of the cost and they broke the world transfer record for the position to buy Roma’s Brazilian No 1 Alisson for £67million.
Liverpool broke the world transfer record for a goalkeeper, splashing out £67m on Alisson
The early signs have been mainly promising, with Alisson keeping four clean sheets in his first six Premier League matches, conceding just two goals.
But he learned the hard way that he won’t be allowed as much time on the ball as in Serie A when robbed by Kelechi Iheanacho for Rachid Ghezzal to score at Leicester.
Alisson certainly looks an upgrade on anyone Liverpool have had between the sticks since Pepe Reina and fewer errors will translate into more points.
Quality rating: 8
Jurgen Klopp has certainly been pleased with Alisson’s contribution since his arrival at Anfield
Another area that looked vulnerable on far too many occasions during the first couple of seasons under Klopp, the German has again proved an effective troubleshooter.
Though Virgil van Dijk didn’t come cheap at £75m when he arrived on Merseyside in January, the Dutchman has proved a commanding presence at the heart of the Liverpool defence.
To illustrate, Liverpool have conceded just twice in their first half-dozen Premier League matches this season as opposed to eight goals shipped in the same fixtures last term.
In addition, nobody has managed to score at Anfield in the league since Michail Antonio scored for West Ham back in February – a shut-out of 751 minutes and counting.
Virgil van Dijk has been outstanding since arriving at Liverpool from Southampton in January
August 12 – West Ham (H) 4-0
August 20 – Crystal Palace (A) 2-0
August 25 – Brighton (H) 1-0
September 1 – Leicester City (A) 2-1
September 15 – Tottenham (A) 2-1
September 22 – Southampton (H) 3-0
While Van Dijk was a world class defender anyway, another of Liverpool’s centre halves is quickly maturing into one.
The emergence of 21-year-old Englishman Joe Gomez has further bolstered the back line and his partnership with Van Dijk is flourishing into a rock solid one.
Gomez is already an England international and on this season’s early evidence has a bright future ahead of him. He also has the adaptability to play at left back or right back if required.
With Dejan Lovren injured at the beginning of the campaign, Gomez has grasped his chance to impress, though Joel Matip, who started against Southampton, offers an alternative.
Young English defender Joe Gomez is maturing into an outstanding centre half
Another bonus for Klopp has been the performances of 19-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back, something that has also caught the eye of England manager Gareth Southgate.
Alexander-Arnold, a graduate of the club’s academy, offers terrific dynamism on that side of the field and his crossing and through ball ability continues to improve.
On the other side, Andy Robertson is realising the enormous potential he showed in the Championship with Hull City and the 24-year-old has been a real asset since arriving last summer.
Another who is unafraid to push forward, his crossing has provided another threat and he already has three assists to his credit this season.
Of course, squad competition is a healthy thing, but Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne have their work cut out to win back their places.
Trent Alexander-Arnold leads a Liverpool attack during their Champions League win over PSG
From a source of real weakness for Liverpool, their defence has become a genuine strength.
However, it is worth pointing out that this season’s defence hasn’t really been stress-tested yet.
Tottenham are the only top six side Liverpool have faced so far and when confronted with the talents of Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last week, they conceded twice.
Their visit to Chelsea this Saturday and home match against Manchester City the following weekend will offer us a few more clues as to how solid they really are.
Quality rating: 8.5
Andrew Robertson shoots during Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday
This was one of the main targets of Liverpool’s summer recruitment drive, with Naby Keita and Fabinho arriving for considerable sums.
All that has done is present Klopp with a considerable selection headache with the superb form of some of his old guard meaning that each of Liverpool’s midfield slots is a real battle.
Take James Milner, in the form of his life at the age of 32, and with the confidence to have Neymar in his back pocket during last week’s Champions League showdown.
Arguably the best performing Englishman in the Premier League at the moment, age seems no barrier to energy and total commitment and his place won’t be taken easily.
32-year-old James Milner has been truly exceptional in the opening weeks of the campaign
Premier League unless stated
Wednesday Chelsea (H)
EFL Cup third round
Saturday Chelsea (A)
October 3 Napoli (A)
Champions League group stage
October 7 Manchester City (H)
October 20 Huddersfield Town (A)
October 24 Red Star Belgrade (H)
Champions League group stage
As captain, Jordan Henderson has naturally featured in every game so far, while Naby Keita, who arrived from RB Leipzig for £52.75m over the summer, has started four of the opening six games.
There have been glimpses of the strength and leadership Keita will bring to the midfield so far and the promise of so much more to come once he fully adapts to English football.
Despite the newcomers, Georginio Wijnaldum has retained his place starting all six of the league games and scoring the opener in the 2-1 win at Tottenham.
Brazilian Fabinho, meanwhile, signed from Monaco for a hefty £39m, has had to be patient, playing just a few minutes off the bench in the win over PSG.
Captain Jordan Henderson plays during the home win over Southampton on Saturday
He has yet to experience Premier League football and, though Klopp has made assurances his time will come, it is proving hard to break into the side.
With so many of Liverpool’s midfield roster in excellent form, it’s going to prove very difficult for Adam Lallana to regain a place, likewise Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when he returns from injury.
No doubt as Klopp intended, the summer signings have raised standards among his midfielders and the competition for places promises to be fierce all season long.
With Liverpool competing on four fronts, there will surely be an opportunity for everyone at some stage or another as Klopp necessarily rotates his team to avoid fatigue and injury.
It really is a lovely dilemma for the German to have.
Quality rating: 9
Naby Keita (left) comes on for Georginio Wijnaldum during Saturday’s match
Liverpool scored 135 goals last season in all competitions and their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Fimrino and Sadio Mane were responsible for 91 of them.
The trio were feared by opponents everywhere they went and it’s gratifying for Liverpool fans to see them hit the ground running this season – Mane has scored four, while Firmino and Salah have three apiece.
So it seems strange that there are questions over Salah’s early-season form, likely to be more a consequence of comparison to the absurdly high standards he set himself last season than any actual issue.
As was pointed out about Saturday’s game, Salah scored once but on another afternoon could easily have had a hat-trick.
Mohamed Salah scored against Southampton on Saturday but doubts remain about his form
Firmino once again looks sharp, and has the knack for scoring winning goals at the moment – he has settled the recent contests against Leicester, Tottenham and PSG.
Mane has also hit the ground running, with two goals on the opening weekend against West Ham and further ones against Crystal Palace and Leicester.
Yet there remains the ominous suspicion the front three haven’t really got going yet this season and when they combine properly the effects will be as devastating as last season.
Brazilian star Roberto Firmino has been in sparkling form at the beginning of the season
Better still for Klopp, there are genuine alternatives to those three this season, meaning one or two of them can be rested ahead of the bigger games.
Daniel Sturridge came into the team for the PSG game and rewarded Klopp’s faith by heading home the opening goal, while £13.5m summer arrival Xherdan Shaqiri contributed two assists in just one half against the Saints.
One hundred and 35 goals is an almighty target to try and beat, but with such firepower, Liverpool have every chance of smashing it.
Quality rating: 9.5
Sadio Mane is Liverpool’s leading goalscorer so far this season with four goals
It’s almost three years since Jurgen Klopp arrived on Merseyside and though it’s hard to imagine a more popular manager, the German knows history will judge him on the number of trophies won.
Liverpool have lost three finals during his tenure – the League Cup and the Europa League in 2015-16 and last season’s Champions League final. They have finished eighth, fourth and fouth in the three seasons he has been at the club.
There’s no question that Liverpool have continuously improved during his time in charge and, this season with the goalkeeper and defensive situations properly addressed, they are stronger than they have been in years.
Jurgen Klopp knows the pressure is mounting to deliver a major trophy to Liverpool
The longer Klopp goes without that elusive piece of silverware, the more the pressure will mount, but this season always represented a glorious opportunity and the early season has only underlined that.
His team is a pleasure to watch, admired by football fans well beyond Merseyside, but many still need convincing they have the mental fortitude to withstand a close title race.
Klopp was in similar situations on several occasions with Borussia Dortmund and he did manage to get them over the line to Bundesliga success in 2011 and 2012.
Given the massive investment and the terrific squad he has at his disposal, there really can be no excuses this season for Klopp.
If he can replicate that Dortmund formula and deliver long overdue success to Liverpool, he will earn a special place in the club’s folklore.
Quality rating: 9
Original Article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-6200933/How-equipped-Liverpools-squad-Premier-League-title-challenge-season.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490