Can Liverpool challenge for the title without further reinforcements?

Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight title in 2020 but sadly struggled to defend their crown last season.

After a torrid run of form in the new year, they bounced back to go ten games unbeaten and finished the campaign in a respectable third place. As a result of this tepid performance, many have written off Jurgen Klopp’s men before this season has even begun. Their lack of activity in the transfer market has also prompted cause for concern, but is it justified? We take a look at the Reds’ title chances this season.

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Down the pecking order

The latest English Premier League odds suggest that Chelsea have leapfrogged Liverpool in the pecking order for the Premier League title. Manchester City are the runaway favourites with odds of 4/6, with the Blues at 5/1 and the Reds at 6/1. Another third-place finish would not be a disaster, but Klopp will be looking for an improvement after last season’s disappointing title defence.

Impact of injury crisis

Any analysis of Liverpool’s 2020/21 campaign must take into account the tragic injury crisis that plagued the club. Liverpool were without Virgil Van Dijk for most of the season, while the likes of Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Fabinho, Diogo Jota, Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and goalkeeper Alisson all spent time on the side-lines.

In January, they were left without a fit senior central defender and were forced to bring in some serious reinforcements. However, even new arrivals Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies picked up injuries, with the latter failing to make a single appearance.

The Anfield club weren’t the only ones to suffer from multiple injuries, but there can be no denying that they had more key players missing than their rivals. The absence of Van Dijk alone would have had an impact on their title hopes and their lack of strength in depth was exposed during this episode. All of this, combined with the energy-sapping efforts of the previous season, left the team looking burnt-out for a period.

Limited arrivals shouldn’t dampen optimism

So far this summer, Liverpool have only recruited one player with 22-year-old centre-back Ibrahima Konate arriving from RB Leipzig for a £36 million fee. With Gomez and Van Dijk both back in action, as well as Konate added to the roster, the Reds defence should be much stronger this time around.

The biggest concern will be how they compensate for the departure of midfield maestro Georginio Wijnaldum. However, as Fabinho has pointed out, Liverpool are well blessed in the midfield department with players such as Henderson, Thiago, Curtis Jones, James Milner, Naby Keita, Harvey Elliott, Takumi Minamino and Fabinho himself all battling it out for a starting place this term. It could be that Klopp has seen enough to suggest that he’s happy to run with what he’s already got, however, nothing’s certain until the transfer window is conclusively closed.

Despite the record-breaking reinforcements of their rivals, Liverpool’s squad still looks strong enough to mount a title challenge. Much of the squad that powered them to the title last summer is still intact and there’s a feeling that they still have unfinished business after the unexpected events of last season knocked them off their stride. With everyone fit, the Merseyside team are still a force to be reckoned with.

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