Liverpool have not received the best hands since winning the title in 2020. Injuries to three of their first-choice defenders, including talismanic leader Virgil van Dijk, altered the position of their players often. Roberto Firmino’s disappointing season, coupled with lousy performances from star signing Naby Keita, left them with few hands for much of last season. With no major new signings in the attacking areas, Liverpool are pretty close to breaking out of the top 4 in the Premier League.
Virgil van Dijk: “The start of team training was a great day for me; I don’t get really nervous, but those kinds of little things make me, not nervous, but a little excited and stuff. Going out again gave me so much trust me. I’m ready to move on. ” #awlive [lfc] pic.twitter.com/ONWED6nPOp
– Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) August 4, 2021
Only through a late rise in form, going undefeated in the last 10 games, did they achieve a place in the Champions League. The preseason was the opportunity to put his house in order, recover his injured players and the arrival of Ibrahima Konate provided optimism. However the ankle injury sustained by Andy Robertson yesterday against Athletic Bilbao saw the Scotsman limping out.
Andy Robertson will undergo a scan on Monday to determine the extent of the ankle injury he suffered against Athletic Club.
– Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 8, 2021
Jurgen Klopp confirmed that the left-back will undergo a scan to assess the extent of the damage, but it seems like a matter of weeks. Will this be another year where the Reds barely manage to survive or will one of the other Champions League contenders finally displace them?
IT’S NOT EASIER
Liverpool’s transfer strategy has been too quiet for the liking of some fans. Only one significant addition has been made in Konate, while Gini Wijnaldum’s departure has not been addressed. Furthermore, the contractual uncertainty surrounding Jordan Henderson has not made the club any easier.
🚨 NEW: Fabinho is convinced that Liverpool already have enough quality in their squad to fill the void left by the departure of Gini Wijnaldum, despite their Premier League rivals spending a lot this summer. #awlive [liverpool echo] pic.twitter.com/ckspCFE65z
– Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) August 7, 2021
In all of this, his contenders have grown considerably stronger. Manchester City added Jack Grealish and are also looking for a forward, with Harry Kane a likely option. The Red Devils acquired Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, while Chelsea brought back Romelu Lukaku.
With the Sancho, Varane and Grealish transfers added, this is the updated net spending of the clubs for the last FIVE years: #MUFC – £ 622.5 million#MCFC – £ 618.9 million#AFC – £ 331.1 million#CFC – £ 230.6 million#THFC – 222.9 million pounds#LFC – £ 159.7 million
West Ham, Brighton and Fulham, all ahead of Liverpool (@TMuk_news) pic.twitter.com/d8gwbDTP3D
– Kevin Palmer 💙 (@RealKevinPalmer) August 6, 2021
It seems highly unlikely that Liverpool will be able to get through the end of their final season and if Robertson is ruled out for two to three months it will be even more difficult to start the league season off right. An over-reliance on Mo Salah can be detrimental and even his defenders will need significant playing time to become fully match-ready again. Considering all of these factors and the likelihood that the Reds won’t make any more notable signings this year, it’ll all be good news for teams eager to jump on them in the top four.
THE TEAMS IN CONTAINMENT
CITY OF LEICESTER
After missing out on qualifying for the Champions League two years in a row, the Foxes will finally be looking to right their boat. Although Wesley Fofana’s injury layoff is a major blow, they signed a capable replacement in Boubakary Soumare. In addition, Johnny Evans and Timothy Castagne are almost in top form, while the addition of Ryan Bertrand provides much-needed experience and steel down the left flank.
Ryan Bertrand talks to LCFC TV about how preseason games have allowed him to understand the manager’s strategies 👇
– Leicester City (@LCFC) August 4, 2021
Harvey Barnes’ return to the FA Community Shield will excite fans, as will new signing Patson Daka, who has arrived to complement Jamie Vardy in the goal scoring department. That’s not all, as Kelechi Iheanacho has proven to be a lethal spiker with 19 goals in all competitions last season. Kasper Schmeichel had a fantastic streak in the Euro and Wilfred Ndidi is one of the best in the world at harassing opposition ballplayers.
Patson Daka averaged one goal every 85.6 minutes during the 2020/21 season:
👕 42 games
⚽️ 34 goals
🏆 Austrian Cup
🏆 A. Bundesliga
🏅 Golden Boot A. Bundesliga
🏅 A. Bundesliga Player of the Season
Leicester City have found the perfect long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/5gyj51o9eI
– William Hill (@WilliamHill) August 6, 2021
Brendan Rodgers has a lot going for him and if they can keep up the momentum of their Community Shield win in the opening weeks, they will certainly be in the upper echelons of the table. The only concern remains regarding how they will fare at the end of the season, but they surely cannot falter for the third time.
The club that was at the center of a transfer frenzy this summer. Villa had to sell his star man and captain for a record $ 100 million that many would have thought would weaken them. However, due to some crafty and clever arrangements, that is far from the case. Emiliano Buendia signed long before the departure of Grealish, the Argentine playmaker who won the EFL Championship as Player of the Year for his 15 goals and 16 assists.
16 assists#NCFCEmi Buendia has been named the championship player of the season at the EFL awards.
Full list of award winners ⤵️
– BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 29, 2021
This was followed by the arrivals of dynamic winger Leon Bailey and experienced goal poacher Danny Ings. Bailey is known for his pace and crossover, while Ings has scored 34 league goals in the past two seasons. These three deny the damage caused by Grealish’s departure? It is more than likely, especially if they can adapt quickly to the conditions of English.
😯 Aston Villa Summer:
✅ Signed Emiliano Buendia
✅ Renewed the contract with Ashley Young
🤝 Agreement by Leon Bailey
❌ Offer rejected by James Ward-Prowse
💪 Fighting to keep Jack Grealish
⏳ Targeting Tammy Abraham
⏳ Targeting Axel Tuanzebe
🇪🇺 The ambition is clear: European football pic.twitter.com/Tffr9IW8Fg
– WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) August 3, 2021
Additionally, the return of Ashley Young provides a much-needed winning mentality and mentorship in a young team that also added Axel Tuanzebe. Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore will only get better, Tyron Mings and Ezri Konsa are defensive giants, while Emi Martinez is in inspired form. Dean Smith has many exciting pieces at his disposal and the connecting game between his attackers is highly anticipated. Although they only finished 11th last season, the Villans cannot be taken lightly after a fantastic summer in the transfer market.
No, this should not be taken as a joke. The Spurs have done a lot of things just before the season starts and if they keep Kane, the atmosphere will make things more optimistic for their fans. The departure of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in one summer is not easy to deal with, but they have found a perfect replacement for the center-back position.
Excited to see Cristian Romero in PL with Tottenham.
Featured from Serie A at 20-21 – Defense MVP.
1st: Interceptions (96)
1st: Recoveries (237)
1st: Antennas (166) and won antennas (113)
3rd: Duels and duels won
Passing Accuracy: 86%#THFC #COYSpic.twitter.com/FxFmdNd7Je
– Sacha Pisani (@ Sachk0) August 7, 2021
Cristian Romero, who recently won the Copa América, has distinguished himself with a superlative season for Atalanta last season. The 23-year-old averages 17.12, 2.92 and 2.75 in applied pressures, tackles and P90 interceptions respectively, which puts him in the top 99th percentile of players in the same position across Europe. Also, his 90% passing accuracy and 4.06 antennas won P90, it shows his general skills when attacking as well. He was voted the ‘Best Defender’ in Serie A for his exploits and his presence at the rear is sure to enhance that leaky defense.
💪🇪🇸 An impressive #TokyoOlympics by Bryan Gil!
Who is excited to see it in North London? pic.twitter.com/IYfhOgYxHX
– Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 7, 2021
Bryan Gil is another exciting addition to their ranks with the teenager providing a multifaceted threat to their attack. Heung-Min Son (17 goals, 10 assists in the league) has already committed to a new deal and Pierluigi Gollina comes in as a major upgrade to his goalkeeping department. Even with Gareth Bale out, Nuno Espirito Santo has a more than good team that can certainly challenge for the heights they finally deserve. As the Spurs have slipped down pecking or drastically since Poch’s departure. A new top 6 without them, the gunners and Liverpool is not unthinkable in the 2021/22 season.
NOT EVERYTHING IS LOST
Returning to Liverpool, the team does not know when it is defeated as it showed last season. Klopp is not easy to convince and will once again be determined to get the most out of his players no matter the obstacles in his way. They have matches against Chelsea, Leeds and both Manchester clubs in the first 10 weeks. Although the season lasts 38 games, how they start will be a powerful indicator of how they are doing.