After a late rally saw them clinch a Champions League spot on the final day of the season, Liverpool will be keen to hit the ground running when they begin their 2021/22 campaign away at Norwich on Saturday.
It was something of a frustrating nine months for Reds fans last year after the elation that came with the club finally claiming their first title for 30-years in 2020.
A promising start saw the reigning champions win their first three games of the season and sit top of the table at Christmas following a 7-0 mauling of Crystal Palace at Slehurst Park, but the Reds’ challenge faded fast.
Following their first home league defeat in 68 games against Burnley Jurgen Klopp’s side lost a further five games in a row at Anfield – a miserable run which saw them drop to eighth place in the Premier League following five defeats in seven.
But despite being plagued by injuries and looking for a time like they might mount the worst title defence in history, Liverpool eventually finished as the third-best team in the Premier League.
26 points out of a possible 30 on offer, with only two late equalisers against Leeds and Newcastle, prevented them from completing a perfect ten game winning run giving hope that Klopp’s side are once again a title threat.
“We are still good enough and capable of mounting a serious title challenge,” Jay from Spion Kop tells FansBet.
“We still have the nucleus of the same group of players that blitzed the Premier League in 2020, while we also added Thiago and Diogo Jota last summer.
“Last season we were blighted by horrendous long term injuries, but those players are all back now for this new season and let’s not forget, we still came third last season even with having such a long list of injury issues.
“I’m never really worried about other teams, I trust in the manager we have to have us competing for the big honours. The other three – Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd – have all spent big, but that’s nothing new because they do every summer.”
In terms of their summer spending, Liverpool have lagged behind some of their title rivals in this window which may be of concern to some supporters, especially given the terrible injuries they suffered for much of the last campaign.
Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for the season following a clash with Jordan Pickfod against Everton in October as it seemed the Reds couldn’t get through a week without losing a key player.
Thiago Alcantara was also crocked in the Merseyside derby while Joe Gomez picked up an injury on international duty along with Diogo Jota in a Champions League dead rubber against FC Midtjylland.
Other key players who spent time on the sidelines included captain Jordan Henderson, full backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold and first-choice goalkeeper Alisson.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Joel Matip’s season-ending injury against Spurs in January, momentarily left the Reds without a senior central defender before reinforcements were brought in.
“We set the ball rolling with the signing of Konate,” says Jay.
“It was much needed at centre-back with all the injury issues we suffered in that department last season.
“But, no more new additions have been added, so it has been a little bit of a disappointment. With just a few weeks remaining now until the transfer window shuts, I don’t think we’ll be mad busy but maybe we’ll see another face through the door.
“I think we all would like another attacking option as priority, but we do still have a few players to shift as well.”
However, despite a quiet summer on the transfer front, there is still plenty for Reds fans to be excited about as they head back to Anfield in their droves for the first time since clinching the league title in 2020.
Liverpool leans on their support, the atmosphere at home games and the intimidation of the opposition probably more than any other club, and their absence for most of last season was undoubtedly a major factor in their poor performances at a ground they had made a fortress for the previous three seasons.
Something which Jay is more than aware of as the new season sees the return of capacity crowds at Anfield and across the country.
“Despite the lack of new faces, there is still excitement amongst the Liverpool fanbase for the new campaign,” he says.
“Having fans back inside grounds and in particular, Anfield is going to be a massive boost to us as well.
“This group of players and the manager feed off the intensity of the crowd, it’s our forte. I’m confident going into this new season that we can get back challenging for the title.
“Others seem to be writing us off due to last season, but if you look at the bigger picture, we have some genuinely world class players in our squad and we will definitely have a point to prove after last season being so disjointed and affected so badly by injuries.
“I don’t see why we can’t become Champions once again, it will be tough, no doubting that, but I feel we can do it.”
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