Premier League team guide: Liverpool in the spotlight

Liverpool will be looking to win back the Premier League trophy after injuries derailed their title defence last season.

The gradual return of key centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez should make the Reds a force once again, while the arrival of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig will ease the pressure on the defensive duo.

Expect some wheeling and dealing in the transfer market as a few fringe players are shipped out before the window closes — and do not rule out more new faces arriving. 

Last season

Given the mid-season collapse that ended their title defence, it is easy to forget Liverpool finished 2020 at the top of the Premier League table.

Come mid-November, they had lost first-choice central defenders Van Dijk and Gomez to season-ending injuries and by 2021 they were also without third-choice centre-back Joel Matip.

Reinforcements did not arrive until the final days of the winter transfer window, making Jurgen Klopp’s task much more difficult than it might have been had signings been finalised earlier.

At one stage Liverpool went eight games without a win at Anfield, losing six top-flight home games in a row for the first time in their history.

But Klopp and his team worked wonders to turn things around — a 10-game unbeaten run on the home stretch included eight wins — to secure third in the table and Champions League qualification.

Liverpool's 42 goals against in 2020-21 was significantly more than the 33 they conceded in the previous season
Liverpool’s 42 goals against in 2020-21 was significantly more than the 33 they conceded in the previous season

New faces

Konate is the only new signing so far but he is a significant one — the 22-year-old arrives with a reputation as one of the most promising young defenders in the world.

Liverpool paid RB Leipzig the £36million release clause in the Frenchman’s contract, allowing them to sign him for a lower fee than a player of his quality might normally command.

There could be further arrivals if buyers for Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi can be found, while the departures of Kamil Grabara, Harry Wilson, Taiwo Awoniyi, Liam Millar and Marko Grujic have already raised around £30m.

The line-up

4-3-3: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Given the severity of the injuries suffered by Van Dijk and Gomez, it is likely they will be eased back into first-team action, meaning Konate could start the campaign at centre-back alongside Matip.

Van Dijk will slot straight back in once fully match fit, with the rest fighting it out to partner him.

Klopp will hope to finally be able to call upon Naby Keita on a regular basis, especially now that Georginio Wijnaldum has departed for Paris Saint-Germain, while Thiago Alcantara could also play a bigger role this season.

Diogo Jota impressed in his first year at Anfield and may well break into the front three, or at least be a high-quality rotation option with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane set for Africa Cup of Nations duty in January.

Diogo Jota could slot in on the left of Liverpool's front three in 2021-22
Diogo Jota could slot in on the left of Liverpool’s front three in 2021-22

Star man: Mohamed Salah

Salah finished last season just one goal behind Premier League Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.

His 22 strikes put him 11 ahead of Mane, who was Liverpool’s next highest scorer in the league, and also surpassed his 2019-20 tally of 19.

The Egyptian remains one of the most dangerous attackers in world football and will be a key part of Liverpool’s challenge for silverware domestically and in Europe.

Salah, 29, will be hungrier than ever to add more trophies to his collection.

Mohamed Salah remains Liverpool's most potent finisher in the final third
Mohamed Salah remains Liverpool’s most potent finisher in the final third

Up-and-comer: Harvey Elliott

Having shone on loan in the Championship with Blackburn last season, there are suggestions that Harvey Elliott will be given an opportunity in Liverpool’s first-team squad.

The left-footed 18-year-old made a pair of Premier League appearances for Fulham at the age of 16, and a further two for Liverpool, but is now tipped for more top-flight minutes in 2021-22.

His loan spell with Blackburn showed him to be a creative attacking midfielder who can be effective playing from the right or in a more central position as a No10.

He scored seven goals in the second tier last term and could take on Shaqiri’s role as a back-up player.

After 20-year-old Curtis Jones, who will also be looking to play a bigger role this season, Elliott is expected to be the next exciting youth player involved in Klopp’s squad. 

The boss: Jurgen Klopp

Klopp will be looking to prove last season’s slight blip was a one-off and get back to challenging for both the Champions League and Premier League.

With his star defenders back in the mix the expectations will be high. 

A domestic cup win, something Liverpool have not managed during the German’s tenure, would also go down well.

Klopp, 54, is one of the top managers in world football, with his counter-pressing style influencing coaches around the globe.

He and everyone else at Liverpool will be hoping that approach brings both entertainment and success to Anfield this term. 

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