Inspired by Mohamed Salah, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side excited in the Premier League last season, while they reached a Champions League final only to suffer heartbreak.
Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, we caught up with fan site Rousing The Kop to get the low-down on progress made on and off the pitch…
What do you make of your club’s pre-season preparations, both on and off the pitch?
As far as training is concerned, Jurgen Klopp’s pre-season is quite intense.
I tend to think the squad will be going into the new season fitter than most other sides just because of how much running they have to do in games and during training.
In the last week they have done triple sessions, around three times, so the players who have been there for around a month already will be very fit by the time the season starts.
As far as off the pitch goes, with signings and players leaving, Liverpool definitely have a much stronger side with Naby Keita, Fabinho in the middle and Alisson Becker at the back.
Then, Xherdan Shaqiri is a good player to come off the bench, or even replace Mohamed Salah or Saido Mane when either of the duo get injured or suspended.
Which of your club’s summer signing has you most excited about the new campaign?
Although Keita is probably the most talented of them all, and will do the most work, Alisson is undoubtedly the player the club needed the most.
We haven’t had a top goalkeeper since Pepe Reina, and that goes back a good eight years ago.
Just from what I’ve seen of the Brazilian, he looks massive. He is a full two inches taller than Loris Karius, so you can’t go wrong there.
Who’s your club’s young-player-who-could-make-a-breakthrough this season?
I’m not sure if he’ll make a breakthrough, considering he is only 17 years of age, but Curtis Jones looks very impressive.
It helps that he is a scouser as well, which is never a bad thing when you’re at Liverpool. I definitely think he could be one to watch if he makes a few appearances in the domestic cup competitions.
He seems to fit in really well with the group and that help him massively as a youngster trying to break into the first team reckoning.
What will be your club’s biggest factor behind achieving its targets this season?
It’s the same as last season, with the club getting to the Champions League final – the tight knit nature of the squad.
There is good morale and there doesn’t appear to be any problems between any of the players within the team.
When you have that, you want to play for your teammates even more. You want everyone to succeed.
When you are challenging at the top end, you need that level of team spirit and togetherness.
What will be your club’s biggest barrier to achieving its targets this season?
I think it could be a mental block, to be honest, given Liverpool haven’t won any major silverware for over a decade.
There is a lot said about Jurgen Klopp having failed in 13 finals and that could play a part, but at the same time I can’t see the squad being held back this season.
I definitely think the club will win something this time round, whether it’s the League Cup, FA Cup or Premier League.
Which club outside yours do you think has done the best business this summer?
Arsenal, or even Wolves and Fulham.
I’ve been very impressed in the way they’ve gone about their business, quietly signing relatively big players.
For Wolves, keeping Ruben Neves is huge, given reports linking him with Liverpool and Manchester United.
All three clubs have improved on what they previously had, and done so in better fashion than most other sides.
If you had to pick a six-a-side team from your club’s current squad, who would be in it?
Finally, how do you think your team will have done come the end of the 2018/19 season?
I think Liverpool can win the Premier League but it will come at a cost to every other competition they are in.
The strength of the squad is definitely not as strong as Manchester City, which could have won the treble last season if it hadn’t been for Liverpool halting their progress in Europe.
Realistically, I can see this squad coming second in the league, while winning either the FA Cup or League Cup and reaching the knock-out stages in the Champions League.
Liverpool round-up: Champions League blow; Mignolet departure nears; Fabinho discusses challenge
Liverpool are left waiting to see which seed they will be in the Champions League draw
Liverpool will be hoping that PAOK will beat Portuguese side Benfica in their Champions League qualifying play-off as victory for the Greek side will see the Reds through to Pot 2 in the Champions League draw ahead of the Iberian outfit.
The draw will take place in Monaco on August 30, with Liverpool currently the highest ranked team in Pot 3 but behind Benfica, the only remaining Pot 2 team in qualification. It comes after Swiss side FC Basel were shockingly knocked out, allowing Liverpool to take up the spot of first in line to join Pot 2.
Simon Mignolet’s agent has spoken about his future
Simon Mignolet has been strongly linked with a move away from Anfield as he has fallen even further down the pecking order following the arrival of Alisson Becker, and it now seems that he may be third choice on Merseyside. Napoli are the latest club to be linked with a move before the transfer window shuts in Italy on Friday.
“We are in discussions with Napoli, but there is no agreement yet. In the end it is in their interest to find a solution. Liverpool want to keep Simon, but he wants to play in matches – and he should. He deserves to play for a big club. Simon is the best option for Napoli in terms of quality, even though there is a financial aspect to it.”
With time running out, all parties will have to get to work if they are to come to an agreement to allow the Belgian to leave. Much could depend on the future of second choice shotstopper Loris Karius, who has also been linked with an exit.
Fabinho has discussed the challenge of adapting to the Premier League
Summer signing Fabinho was only on the bench for the Reds on Sunday as they overcame West Ham United with a 4-0 win and the Brazilian has discussed the challenge that he faces having joined from Monaco.
“I think my performances have been good. It’s a different playing style than at Monaco; there were two of us in midfield there and here at Liverpool there’s three… I knew [my role] would change and I feel I’ve adapted well. When I came to Liverpool I knew this competition would exist in midfield and I think it’s really good for the team.”
Some fans were not convinced by his pre-season form but it remains early days in his Anfield career with plenty of opportunities ahead to prove himself in a holding midfield role.
One to Watch: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold oozes confidence vs West Ham
The 19-year-old picked up exactly where he left off last season.
He simply picked up from where he left season, oozing confidence as he patrolled the right side – camping himself in West Ham’s territory as Liverpool dominated the match.
The Englishman’s exceptional passing ability was the main feature of his performance.
He touched the ball 99 times and completed 58 of his 69 passes, with one delightful line-breaking pass standing out.
This ball, played through to Naby Keita as Liverpool broke forward in the build-up to their first goal, highlighted how dangerous Alexander-Arnold’s passing range when he is given time to raise his eyes and play diagonal balls through midfield.
This diagonal pass split West Ham’s entire midfield open, sending Keita on a burst that culminated in Salah putting the Reds 1-0 ahead.
It was symbolic of the mentality Klopp instils in his players, making them feel confident taking risks to set attacks in motion.
In this instance, the 19-year-old could easily have recycled the ball to a centre-back, but his team were rewarded for his courage in possession.
Defensively, he was also quite active, completing four of his five tackles and making a solitary interception.
Again, having West Ham camped in their own half suited Alexander-Arnold as he was able to press up the pitch and win the ball early in typical Liverpool fashion.
He continues to prove why he is so important to this Liverpool team, and highlights why Nathaniel Clyne cannot get close to first-team football.
Liverpool round-up: Klopp’s West Ham reaction; Klavan bid rejected; Lovren latest
Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a record equaling win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane twice and Daniel Sturridge. The victory took the team straight to the top of the table with one game played and 37 more to go.
“A very good start, for sure. Yes, it’s a start – perfect as well because we won the game. For us it was not perfect, but really good. West Ham will play for sure a good season, but they are not then the Uniteds, Citys and all that stuff. That’s how it is, they know that and we know that and we have to be ready week in, week out for all the different challenges. Expectation – ours is the highest, but that changes nothing.”
The Reds were dominant up against Mauricio Pellegrini’s Hammers, who were never at the races. Having taken a two goal lead before half-time, Mane added a second before Sturridge scored with his first touch despite coming on as a late substitute.
Newcastle wanted Klavan
News has emerged that the Reds turned down a deadline day bid from Newcastle United for Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan. The report comes from The Chronicle, who say that former Anfield boss Rafa Benitez was keen on the central defender as a cheap option to strengthen his squad.
However, Jurgen Klpop decided that the team could not do without the 32-year-old, who is currently unavailable for selection due to an injury problem. That is despite the fact that his contract is set to expire in 2019, though Klopp has previously said he would like to retain his services.
Lovren set for weeks out
Dejan Lovren returned from the World Cup suffering from a stomach problem and remains sidelined by the issue, as Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed. The German revealed that the Croatian was already struggling towards the end of the season but played through the pain expecting that it would clear up when he had time off after the summer break.
“I am pretty sure it will settle in the next one, two or three weeks. In that time he can probably for sure train already, but not the full programme, so that will then take time. In the end, it is serious but not that serious, so it’s not that we need to be afraid that it will take him until whenever. In the moment he is not available, that’s true.”
However, that has not been the case and the coach has now revealed that he faces one to three weeks on the sidelines with the issue. Joe Gomez excelled in his place on Sunday and looks set to retain that position.
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