Why Liverpool will win the title



In the summer, The Football Lab tipped Liverpool to be this season’s Premier League title-winners.

Their impressive front trio has prompted fans to sing “if we still had Suarez, he’d be on the bench”. That one might be sung with tongues in cheeks – Liverpool would be a better team with Luis Suarez – but if offered, would they take him back in exchange for losing Sadio Mane, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino? This blog would argue not. The shared nature of the attacking contributions diversifies the team’s attacking threat.

Premier League goals
Sadio Mane 6 = 20% of Liverpool’s 30
Philipe Coutinho 5 = 17%
Roberto Firmino 5 = 17%
Everyone else 14 – 46%

Opposing teams must handle the powerful bursts of Mane, the exquisite technique of Coutinho and the glue-like control of Firmino, as all three roam and interchange seamlessly. Once they’ve contained those three, there is Adam Lallana’s subtle late runs to pick up, Georginio Wijnaldum’s brute force to watch out for along with James Milner’s crossing ability and Nathaniel Clyne’s unrelenting pace. The unpredictability of Liverpool’s attack strikes fear into opposing teams – most, they have simply battered into submission.

The only criticisms of Jurgen Klopp’s side have been of the defence. When top teams are questioned on those grounds, it is normally related to struggles in big games and the concession of costly goals when under pressure. Neither of those things are applicable to Liverpool.

They have already played four of the top six, taking eight points from those encounters and were arguably the more prominent side in draws with Tottenham and Manchester United. Last season they reached two cup finals, did the double over Manchester City, lost just once in eight against the top four, that defeat coming against champions Leicester, who they had also been one of two teams to beat. Liverpool’s high-energy pressing approach works consistently, regardless of the level of opposition.

Secondly, the fact they have conceded 14 goals appears bad on paper, but it’s important to look at the context of those goals. Seven of them came when the Reds had already established a winning margin 2+ goals and six were followed by another Liverpool goal. 11 came in games they won – the other three were conceded back in August. Jurgen Klopp’s side might not have as good a defence as Tottenham or Chelsea, but they are defending well when they need to.

We are beginning to see a trend in which the main Premier League contenders each season were not among the top sides the year before. This stems partly from motivational issues, but also the absence of Champions League fixtures. Last season, this advantage enabled Leicester to develop tactical consistency, which would have otherwise been disrupted by injuries and fitness issues. This has allowed Klopp to establish a more settled side, with eight players starting at least nine of the 11 Premier League games.

On their side, Liverpool have tactical consistency, a full week to prepare for league matches, a diversified attack averaging almost three goals per game, a strong team spirit and a better defence than given credit for. The Football Lab smugly maintains it’s prediction that they shall be crowned champions come May.

The Football Lab is sponsored by Classic Football Shirts.