Liverpool and Manchester City kicked off the English domestic season on Sunday with The Traditional Curtain-Raiser of the Community Shield.
But having been pipped to the Premier League title last season, can Liverpool go one better this term, despite not strengthening their squad in the transfer window?
On the Totally Football Show with James Richardson this week, our panel discussed just that, and didn’t think that their lack of activity will be a problem.
“We can become infatuated by transfer culture,” said Daniel Storey. “The idea that if you’re not buying players, you’re moving backwards – that’s not necessarily the case, particularly for Liverpool. In fact, making an expensive signing, buying a fourth striker could just as easily upset the rhythm as buying nobody at all.
“I think it will be a very similar title race. They will both beat pretty much everyone below them, and it will come down to games between the top six.
“Liverpool have finished in the top two three times in the Premier League era, and in the following seasons they finished fifth, sixth and seventh. They’ve never yet replicated a strong Premier League season by going again.
“It feels more sustainable under Jurgen Klopp, but that is something else to overcome, psychologically.”
There is a small caveat though, as vocalised by Klopp himself.
“One thing Klopp said when his Dortmund side fell away after their peak is that you need to make changes to a squad to keep it fresh. He said ‘if I tell them 200 times to go left they’re used to me saying that, so they stop listening.’ He hasn’t made changes, so he’s clearly backing himself to do it another way.”
But what will change from last term? Do they, as James Richardson asked, need City to take a tumble because they’re concentrating on continental competitions?
“Possibly, yes,” said Michael Cox. “By being knocked out in the quarter-final of the Champions League, they had three fewer games than Liverpool.
“And if you look at the league games around the time they would have been playing those semi-finals, they beat Burnley 1-0, Leicester 1-0 – if they had been playing in mid-week, maybe you wouldn’t have got the three points and maybe you wouldn’t have won the league.”
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