EPL Top Six Breakdown - Liverpool


(Photo courtesy of standard.co.uk)

It's part four of this series, so hopefully you’ve read the first three versions and know what to expect by now. If you haven’t gotten around to that yet, we’ll be looking at: overall play style, manager evaluation, key player, and predictions.

Overall Play Style

I’ll be honest, Liverpool are a lot of fun to watch for the neutral fans. Their high-pressing, all action, fast-paced style is enviable to almost every team in Europe. A lot of praise has to go to manager, Jurgen Klopp, for his insistence on making sure his players are not only fit enough to execute such demanding physicality, but also have the technical ability and match intelligence to be able to properly counter attack when needed, hold the ball when needed, and when to spring the press.

Liverpool pre-Klopp era had their ups and downs; reaching near Premier League-winning heights with Brendan Rodgers’ outfit, while stumbling in years previous with the likes of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish in charge. The way the Reds have played has evolved with each new edition, and I think most of the Anfield faithful will agree that this is the best the club has looked in a very long time.

Relying on the likes of Roberto Firmino to press from the front and link together the midfield and wingers, a tough-tackling midfield three containing the ever-reliable James Milner, a Virgil van Dijk-led back line, and the stable hands of Alisson Becker in goal, this Liverpool iteration is one that can be counted on to score plenty of goals, while also maintaining defensive stability.

Releasing the speedy Sadio Mane and Mo Salah on either flank, Liverpool are perfectly set up to cause any opponent nightmares upon leaving Anfield, and are now in a good position to be able to truly kick on and maybe win their first Premier League title. It’s just too bad that they’re hitting their stride as Manchester City are becoming one of the best squads ever assembled.

Manager Evaluation – Jurgen Klopp

(Photo courtesy of statscreamer.com)

Jurgen Klopp seems to not be able to put even a foot wrong; he’s adored by the English media, loved by the Liverpool fans, and well-supported by his club as a whole. Even fans of rival clubs (like me, supporting Manchester United), wanted Klopp at their respective club to manage operations. He’s a great personality, and above all, plays great football, and has won trophies from it.

Now, if I’m going to knit-pick (which I will), I think that Klopp has not won enough trophies in his career to date. This isn’t entirely his fault, as he’s come up against Pep Guardiola teams and beaten them time and time again, but it hasn’t translated to trophies just yet.

That’s my only knock on him, though, as his play style is incredible, it’s positive, and he has still experienced a good amount of success with his philosophy. Hopefully, his trophy cabinet will grow sooner rather than later.

Key Player

(Photo courtesy of foxsportsasia.com)

Virgil van Dijk:

It’s not often that a defender makes it as one of (if not the) most important player on a top team, but this just so happens to be the case with Liverpool and their most expensive player ever.

Van Dijk was acquired from Southampton in January of 2018, for a world record fee (for a defender) of around £75m. He has made all the difference for Liverpool, as their defensive numbers have looked so much better than they ever have in recent years, as well as looking like a much more stable unit overall. Regardless of who is paired with the big Dutchman, he’s able to both command the back line and elevate his partner’s game.

What a purchase he’s turning out to be.

Prediction

League Finish: 2nd

Champions League Finish: Semi-Finalists