Liverpool: Mission Impossible or Mission Invincible?
Background photo: Andy Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.5
Good evening, Herr Klopp. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to go the entire season unbeaten while shattering Manchester City's Premier League points record. If you fail to remain undefeated or allow City to recapture the lead, the media will disavow all acknowledgment of your work to this point. It's up to you not to self-destruct this time.
Jurgen Klopp and his high-flying Liverpool team are well underway with their bold attempt to achieve what many have branded ‘Mission Impossible’; preventing Manchester City winning a third consecutive Premier League title in what could yet be an undefeated campaign.
After losing out to the Citizens as runners-up on two previous occasions, the pressure is mounting on The Reds with each passing match day. After 12 games, Liverpool’s haul of 34 points is well beyond the pace of Arsenal’s Invincibles season, and level with that of City’s points record-setting 2017/18 squad. In order to maintain their level of form and not falter under the weight of past demons, Liverpool will need to demonstrate an elite level of mental fortitude.
Last term, after leading the Merseyside outfit for most of the season’s opening fixtures, the Sky Blues slumped to three defeats from four between matchdays 16-19. Liverpool capitalised on their North-West rivals tribulations and carved themselves a seven-point gap at the top of the table. Despite this, the title still ended up being paraded around the blue half of Manchester come May due to a resilient City fightback.
One can only assume that despite the Red’s present fortunes, including a 3-1 thrashing of the current champions of England last weekend, points will have to be dropped somewhere along the line. Regardless of how long Klopp’s men can boast their undefeated status, Pep Guardiola and his team will be in hot pursuit, waiting to pounce at the sight of the slightest slip-up. The Champions of Europe only tasted the sting of losing once last season yet still came up short as a result of several scrappy draws. Should Liverpool experience a similar hiccup in form this time around, or fail to take a point in one or more of their 26 remaining games, then they will need to emulate their rivals and rebound immediately.
What a start for the Premier League leaders - but Man City are furious!
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Jurgen Klopp’s reluctance to risk disturbing his current set-up by making any significant summer signings, has allowed Liverpool to further gel as a team, and set about building on their previous success. Returns/approaches to full match fitness made by players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, and Adam Lallana, who all missed most of last term due to injury, have provided Anfield’s home dugout with increased strength in depth.
More recent additions to the squad such as Brazilian holding-midfielder Fabinho, have also appeared to have resumed business as normal. The former Monaco and Real Madrid man took several weeks to break into the first-team last season after arriving at Melwood, yet his adjustment and adaptation to English football seems complete. The 26-year-old put in a Man of the Match performance against Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday, opening the scoring with a rocket in front of the away fans.
Liverpool’s venomous forward trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane have shown no signs of losing their potency over the summer, with the three already racking up 16 goals and 10 assists between them so far in all competitions. These factors combined suggest the Reds are in even more of a prime position than last year to end their 30-year wait for a league title; and be crowned Premier League Champions at last.
As the title race begins to heat up with Leicester City and Chelsea joining the fray, Liverpool, one way or another, must prove their resolve, by either remaining unbeatable or by picking themselves up after a possible fall...