This time next week, we’ll have all had a chance to get our first glimpses of this season’s Premier League crop of sides. As always, many a column inch has been taken up by speculating who will ultimately get their hands on the trophy this season.
Many pundits and journalists have enjoyed racheting up the pressure on Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Dubbed as challengers to City, the Reds are billed as the only team inside the top six capable of threatening.
However with their nineteen point cushion over United last season, arguably there is nobody in the current crop able to get anywhere near City this season.
Anticipation has a habit…
Liverpool fans will tell you, we don’t like pressure and expectation on us. 2002/3, 2009/10 and 2014/15 are recent examples of the club going into a Premier League campaign with the mill stone of expectation, only to fall apart.
You can argue it’s different this season for sure. In each of those previous examples Liverpool were short in most areas and it was visibly clear on the pitch that a challenge would be impossible.
Yes this summer has been a busy, productive period for the club. Key areas have been addressed and squad depth has been added. However for all of those pointing to the huge sums paid out on players, as their definitive proof for Liverpool’s title credentials, it is vital to remember how short the club was of numbers last season.
In the run up to the Champions League Final last season, the squad was threadbare. Injuries to Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus Coutinho’s departure left the remaining players stretched and burnt out. They were hamstrung by fatigue in Kiev and their wily opponents knew it.
The hype over Liverpool’s recruitment has created anticipation for sure. But the new signings were of vital necessity and any club in that situation last May would have done the same given the right means.
Mind the gap
City were a staggering twenty five points clear of Liverpool last season and have hardly looked out of step since last May.
Riyad Mahrez has arrived to bolster one of the finest midfields in Europe, and their squad continues to blossom under Pep Gaurdiola. They are a slick well-oiled side. The nucleus of the squad is older yes, but they know how to win titles, a vital component for any side.
The focus on whether or not Liverpool can challenge for the title should actually shift to the Champions themselves. Their cushion last season was huge, and a real show of their potential dominance for years to come. If Liverpool or anyone else can close that massive gap, then they are going to have to be exceptional and hope that City somehow are dramatically worse off.
Still a big ask
City’s competent toying with Chelsea in today’s Community Shield match does not bode well for those of us looking up at them.
They moved, switched and charged at Chelsea’s back line with verve and menace throughout. Aguero looks as hungry as ever and in Foden they have a really confident youngster.
That being said, no side has successfully defended their title in almost a decade. This is the Premier League and teams can turn up looking for a fight at any given week. It’s also a season off the back of a World Cup, so fatigue could take it’s toll.
People have also been very quick to write off the other four teams in the top six. Chelsea’s talented squad is still whole, despite the rumours linking players with exits.
Mourinho is Mourinho. Don’t get against the prickly Portuguese upsetting the apple cart. They have the players and the know-how. Spurs, like Chelsea are still whole despite a concerning lack of recruitment, while Arsenal should be a lot tougher to beat with Emery in charge.
Pep will need to utilise his squad to the max as they gear up for what could be his toughest challenge of his distinguished career.