Liverpool could not defend their 2019/20 Premier League title and finished third in the standings last season, finishing 17 points behind Manchester City.
Despite starting the season in good form, the Reds tailed off during the midway point on the campaign. A dreadful run of form and an injury crisis involving several key players contributed to their tailspin and ultimately ruled them out of the title race early on.
However, Jurgen Klopp turned things around towards the end of the 2019/20 season. His Liverpool side have maintained their good form at the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign. The Reds have also seen many vital players return for the season, making them genuine title contenders this year. Football Betting Today has the Red’s as firm title contenders, given their recent success domestically coupled with the return of Van Dijk, but with Manchester City strengthening their squad in the last transfer window, this year’s title race will surely go down to the wire.
Turnaround in Premier League form
Liverpool ended last season as one of the most in-form teams in the Premier League. An unbeaten run of 10 matches, which included eight wins, helped the Reds to finish third.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have shown few signs of letting up early in the 2021/22 campaign. They are unbeaten in their first three matches and picked up solid results against Norwich (3-0), Burnley (2-0) and a key 1-1 home draw against Chelsea.
Starting the season where Liverpool left off in the previous campaign shows an improving consistency among the team that lacked sorely last year. Their current run of 13 matches unbeaten in the top-flight is their longest streak without a loss since early 2020.
However, Jurgen Klopp must maintain high standards for his side for them to make a competitive push for the title. Last season highlighted how quickly a promising start can tail off.
Managing fixtures effectively will be important. The Reds’ first challenge comes when the Champions League football returns in September and a tricky run of fixtures between October and November. Across these four weeks, Liverpool will face City, Man United, Arsenal and Everton, a patch that could define their season.
Return of key players
Even in the early stages of the 2021/22 season, the return of defensive duo Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip has added much-needed experience and steel to the first team.
Both defenders were out for most of the 2020/21 season. However, losing van Dijk was felt hard last season. Van Dijk suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury just a few weeks into last season, and the centre back was ruled out for nine months.
Van Dijk’s absence, along with other injuries, sparked a long-term run of form that effectively ended Liverpool’s chances of Premier League success last season. After losing van Dijk, the Reds won their first five matches. However, they drew 1-1 against title rivals Man City in November and a run of nine wins in 26 games in all competitions followed.
At Anfield, van Dijk’s absence was evident as the Reds 68-match unbeaten run was ended after a 1-0 defeat against Burnley in January.
This season, the return of Matip and van Dijk at centre-back has already been recognisable for Liverpool. The Reds have conceded one goal in their opening three Premier League matches, and Liverpool remain unbeaten in 49 Premier League matches at Anfield when van Dijk has started.
But the return of other key players has also been a welcome return for Klopp. Captain Jordan Henderson had an inconsistent campaign last season after recurring injuries, and he has returned this season. In attack, Diogo Jota is back to full fitness and has hit the ground running, scoring two goals in his first three matches.
Overall, returning first-team players will bolster Klopp’s options. For a more successful Premier League season, keeping key players fit and available will be essential. Particularly after Liverpool made defender Ibrahima Konaté their only signing this summer.
Will Liverpool have enough to challenge City?
Liverpool will be determined to challenge City for the Premier League title once more this season, especially after falling so short in their own defence last season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been the only team to break City’s spell of dominance in the Premier League in recent years. The Citizens have lifted the title in three of the last four seasons, with Liverpool finishing runners up in 2018/19 with 97 points (enough to have claimed the title in previous seasons).
With so little between the two sides in recent seasons, and with Liverpool back to full strength in 2021/22, the title could be decided by one win or loss throughout the season. For Klopp, he will be well aware that taking points from title rivals could prove to be the difference between success and failure. Last season, the Reds lost at home to Chelsea and Man City and also drew 0-0 with Man United at Anfield, a record that must be improved if Liverpool are to be competitive once more this season.