Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is anticipating a close title race this season, claiming “it will go right to the wire.”
Klopp guided his side to a resounding Premier League triumph last term, finishing 18 points clear of Manchester City in second place. The Reds have made a strong start to their title defence, currently sitting at the top of the table.
However, early signs suggest that it will not be so comfortable this time around. Bitter rivals Manchester United are behind Liverpool on goal difference alone, while Man City are four points off the top with a game in hand. Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Everton are also in contention as outsiders.
Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Southampton on Monday, as quoted by the Guardian, Klopp said: “If you are a neutral you will love it. Our season so far is good but I’m not surprised it is this close. This year is tough.
“I am pretty sure it will go right to the wire. It is tough for all of us, which is the reason why it’s so close.”
An injury crisis has hindered Liverpool’s chances of retaining the trophy, with several notable absentees, especially at the heart of defence. Dutch star Virgil van Dijk is expected to miss most of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while Joe Gomez is also sidelined long-term. This has forced Klopp to trust his youngsters, with the likes of Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips being called up to the starting XI this campaign.
As it stands, Man Utd are looking like the most likely challengers to Liverpool’s throne. After a slow start, the Red Devils have gone ten games unbeaten, winning eight. This has left them in second place on goal difference.
Similarly, Man City were looking way off the pace in the opening weeks of the season. However, three wins on the spin have got Pep Guardiola’s side back in contention for the title.
In contrast, Chelsea’s ambitions have taken a massive hit in recent weeks. The Blues found themselves at the summit in early December after a 3-1 home victory against Leeds United. However, they have since taken just four points from their last six games, causing them to fall to eighth.