Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

2019/20 Premier League preview - Liverpool: Mohamed Salah leads another tilt for the title

Richard Jolly runs the rule over Liverpool ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish

Mohamed Salah, centre, and Sadio Mane, second left, were joint top goalscorers in the Premier League last season. AFP
Mohamed Salah, centre, and Sadio Mane, second left, were joint top goalscorers in the Premier League last season. AFP

Liverpool ended last season with 97 points and as champions of Europe. Had Manchester City not got 98, it would have been one of the greatest seasons ever.

Nevertheless, it was proof of remarkable progress under Jurgen Klopp. Virgil van Dijk was PFA Player of the Year, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah two of the division’s three top scorers and the defence, which had been a weakness, the most frugal.

Liverpool have not bought, but they have spent in giving improved contracts to a team whose peak could still be to come. A first league title in three decades remains a priority, but a duel with City promises to run and run.

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Who finishes where in 2019-20?

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Key player: Mohamed Salah

It says something about Salah’s standards that some of his sophomore year on Merseyside felt underwhelming and yet he finished with a share of the Golden Boot and by scoring in the Champions League final. But if he could get back to the 44-goal form of his debut campaign, Liverpool would be still more potent.

Signing to watch: Harvey Elliott

Though probably not this season. The youngest player in Premier League history, a midfielder signed from Fulham, is one for the future. So is another teenage arrival, Sepp van den Berg. But Liverpool have not made any senior signings so far. Elliott made his Fulham debut at just 15.

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Harvey Elliott, 16, signs and makes Liverpool debut

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Talking point: How do Liverpool get better?

The orthodox approach is to buy, but Liverpool have not done that. But as they only dropped 17 points last season, only six against teams outside the top six and only four at home, there is limited scope for improvement.

Perhaps the midfield offers scope: Fabinho took time to adjust last season, Naby Keita should provide more penetration than he did in his debut campaign and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit again.

Even with James Milner’s penalty-taking, Liverpool only got 12 league goals from their midfielders last time around. More would reduce the burden on the forwards.

Prediction: 2nd

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:28 PM

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