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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Premier League preview 2018/19 - Liverpool: Salah can lead Klopp's strengthened side on title challenge

Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at if a first league title since 1990 can find its way to Anfield 

Mohamed Salah is looking to build on an impressive first season with Liverpool. AFP
Mohamed Salah is looking to build on an impressive first season with Liverpool. AFP

Lowdown: Liverpool have delivered different kinds of statements under Jurgen Klopp; firstly in beating the top sides with blistering attacking, then in scoring record levels of goals in a surprise surge to the Uefa Champions League final, but most recently in transfers that have shown their ambition.

With Alisson joining Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool have broken the world transfer record for both goalkeepers and defenders. In Fabiano and Naby Keita, whose arrival was set up last summer, they have undergone an expensive midfield makeover. They already have a feared front three, but a side who went unbeaten at home last season need to turn more draws against lesser teams into wins.

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Key player: Mohamed Salah – It is hard to pick anyone else after his incredible season last season. Perhaps it will be an outlier, because 44 goals represented 25 more than the Egyptian have ever scored before. Yet Salah was so devastating in combination with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino that it felt a sign of things to come.

A post shared by Mohamed Salah (@mosalah) on

Manager: Jurgen Klopp – Into his fourth season at Anfield and still looking for his first trophy. The pressure may be greater now after spending £176 million (Dh841.1m) this summer, though a Champions League finalist has revived and reunited a club and transformed the tactics. This is very much his team now.

Talking point: Can Alisson give Liverpool the best defence? The reality is that Liverpool were interested in the man they made the world’s most expensive goalkeeper long before a concussed Loris Karius had a traumatic Champions League final.

Klopp had already addressed other shortcomings at the back by paying £75m for the dominant Van Dijk, with Dejan Lovren becoming better as a result and with Andrew Robertson’s remarkable development into a high-class left-back.

Alisson should add reliability in what, with Karius and Simon Mignolet erring, had long been a problem position, but the reality is that Liverpool conceded 11 more league goals than Manchester City, so improvement is required.

Prediction: 2nd.

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