The coming season is going to possibly be one of the most exciting seasons the Premier League has witnessed. The arrival of top class managers like Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, José Mourinho (once again) is only making going to make things more exciting.
Needless to mention, its going to be a highly competitive season. Stakes are higher and multiple clubs are going to be competing to finish in the top 4. Nothing can be taken for granted and Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League win last season is illustrative of the same.
Jurgen Klopp’s aim for his first full season as Liverpool boss will be attempting to finish in the top 4 and get Champions League nights back to Anfield. The Reds came close last season via an appearance in the Europa League final, but their performance in the Premier League left a lot to be desired. With no European competitions to focus on, Liverpool pose a bigger threat. The Reds have signed as many as six new players but which 11 give the Reds the best chance on paper?
Here is the strongest Liverpool 11 — with every player available — keeping in mind some balance in the team, and therefore this is not necessarily the most attacking eleven.
Loris Karius: Klopp went ahead and signed two goalkeepers this summer. Karius was added to the squad with the promise of being a first team player, while Alex Manninger signed to be a deputy, as Klopp sent promising goalkeeper Danny Ward out on loan. Karius signed for Liverpool this summer and made a promising start in the pre-season. It was obvious for a while now that Simon Mignolet should not be Liverpool’s number 1 goalkeeper. However, the Belgian will start for the club in the first couple of months courtesy Karius’ hand injury. It is now up to the Belgian to prove himself but it is more than likely that Karius will be reinstated in the starting 11 upon his return. At the moment, the young German certainly proves to be the best choice for Klopp.
Nathaniel Clyne: Liverpool don’t have many options on the right side of the back-line. Jon Flanagan is likely to be loaned but even if he was present, Clyne represents the club’s best bet at right-back. The former Southampton player was one of the club’s most consistent players last season. He does need to improve the offensive side of his game, but his performances are consistent and he provides a reliable option at the left flank.
Dejan Lovren: While many would disagree here, Lovren has definitely turned his career around under Klopp but still needs to prove his worth to a lot of disgruntled fans. He has a good understanding with Sakho and the two would be the ideal centre-back pairing if some of last season is anything to go by. Its good for Liverpool that they have plenty of cover in the two positions with Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip. However, all things considering, Lovren and Sakho would be the way to go for Klopp, at least initially.
Mamadou Sakho: Sakho has been flirting with trouble for sometime now. After getting his ban overturned, the Frenchman provided relief to Klopp but an injury issue in the pre-season along with some disciplinary concerns meant he was sent back to Liverpool from the club’s pre-season tour in the USA. However, Sakho would be the ideal choice at centre-back and despite some nervy moments, he is a strong centre-back, someone who can hold his own. His injury might mean Matip or Klavan start the season, and they might make things difficult for him. For Klopp, the more competition, the better.
Alberto Moreno: Moreno picks himself in the strongest 11 simply because there is no-one to compete with him for the position. Fans are crying for another left-back to be signed but it remains doubtful whether there will be an addition. With Brad Smith gone and Flanagan also likely to be loaned, Moreno has no competition for the position. We might, however, see James Milner regularly feature in the position.
Emre Can: Perhaps the only one who has made himself a sure shot starter under Klopp, Emre Can performs the best in the midfield. His positional sense has also improved over the years, as he has to ensure he doesn’t needlessly move forward, and give the opponents valuable space in the midfield.
Jordan Henderson: Henderson will be a disputable pick in this eleven as many would argue he cannot make the strongest eleven and his Liverpool days are numbered. However, picking Lallana or putting Coutinho in the midfield would not keep the midfield very balanced, and Henderson does add that to the table. With a proper defensive midfielder missing, Henderson is someone who will arguably be able to perform the best in this role. This is not to suggest that his position is not in jeopardy, but the Liverpool captain does offer something Klopp needs to balance the team.
Giorginio Wijnaldum: The arrival from Newcastle United has the ability to perform anywhere. In a 4-3-3 system, which Klopp has favoured during the pre-season, it is likely that the Dutchman plays as the most advanced of the midfielders. He has goals in his arsenal and Liverpool need that if they are to hope for a top 4 spot. He possesses qualities that can make him a very threatening player and it will be interesting to see what role Klopp has in mind for the £25m man.
Philippe Coutinho: The Brazilian has the knack of going missing for periods in the campaign and this is something he needs to work on. He also takes way too many shots from outside of the box, while some of them make for delightful goals, most are wide off mark and waste crucial minutes of the game. He has a fair bit to work on but he is arguably the most dangerous man in the Liverpool squad simply because he possesses the ability to create one magical moment that could hand his team a crucial win. The signing of Mané and existing players like Lallana and Milner will ensure Coutinho is on his toes because there are threatening players vying for the spot.
Roberto Firmino: Firmino’s first season as a Liverpool player could be counted as a successful affair. He scored 10 goals and assisted another 7. Things are only expected to get better for the Brazilian. He also faces competition from the very pacey Sadio Mane and very energetic Adam Lallana and must ensure his performances are worth keeping him in the starting eleven.
Daniel Sturridge: Daniel Sturridge is arguably the League’s second best striker after Aguero. It is his fitness that keeps him from reaching the elite mark. This season is extremely crucial for him for the same reason. He must keep fit and work his magic in front of goal. Divock Origi and Danny Ings are good back-ups, both of whom would be looking for opportunities to get a break in the first team.