Will Liverpool win Premier League 2018/19?
Liverpool have witnessed their best ever start of the season by accumulating 39 points from their first 15 Premier League games. It’s first time in Liverpool FC’s 126 years history that they have accumulated 39 points from first 15 games, but they still trail league leader Manchester City by two points. So, the question remains, will Liverpool win Premier League 2018/19?
There are enough speculations that Liverpool is going to end their Premier League’s barren run and claim their first Premier League title this season. Reds haven’t won a single English First Division title since it has taken a new shape in Premier League in 1992. However, they are the second most successful English club with 18 league titles but their latest celebration dates back to 1989/90 season.
Reds have big faith on Jurgen Klopp that he’s the man to give them their first Premier League title. It’s German manager’s third full season in charge scrapping his first season in 2015/16, when he joined the club in the middle of the season. There are high hopes and he certainly have lived up to the expectation, but there are too many things to consider before we go gaga over Liverpool’s best ever start.
First, we must go through history. On three occasions, Liverpool have accumulated their second highest points in first 15 matches which was 38 points. It was in 1904/05, 1978/79, and 1990/91.
In 1904/05, they were leading with 38 points from first 15 games but it was Newcastle United who became champion that season. 1978/79 season bring fortune for Liverpool as Bob Paisley won his third First Division title as manager, but it has much to do with their dominating era. Reds were at their prime that time. In 190/91, Arsenal gave them a challenge which ended in Gunners favour as they go on to win against Manchester United on last match day to celebrate the championship, whereas Liverpool lost 2-1 against Nottingham Forest to finish as runners-up.
So, history doesn’t tell a very good story about Liverpool’s accumulating highest points in their initial games. Now, come back to current situation. Liverpool have accumulated their best ever points in their first 15 games, but they still trail league leader Manchester City by two points.
It doesn’t give a very strong case for them to be end up as champions. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is one of Europe’s best team and to be fair Guardiola knows how to win league. He doesn’t mind being knocked out of a knockout competition on a bad day, but he always demand consistency from his team in the domestic league. He has been a winner wherever he has been; whether it’s Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Manchester City. The German would definitely like to retain the title to so his supremacy over his rivals and he definitely doesn’t hold a very good records over Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
In personal battle, Klopp has outsmarted him on most of the occasion. Nothing can please Guardiola more than seeing Liverpool finish as runners-up and he walk away with the title with his team Manchester City.
Leave aside points table. If we come to their squad strength, no one will say that Liverpool have a better squad than Manchester City. Yes, they are competing at top level because they have a great charismatic manager.
As a shot stopper, Liverpool’s Allison Becker may hold an edge over his counterpart Ederson but City’s centre-backs are more matured and experienced. Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi are their old guards, but Aymeric Laporte and John Stones have also done very good job in recent season. Despite having four regular players for rotation available for two positions, they have also have scraps in Philippe Sandler and Eliaquim Mangala (injured).
Liverpool have only four centre-backs in their team, and one or two are occasionally unavailable due to injury. This season Virgil Van Dijk and joe Gomez formed a very good partnership as they conceded only six goals in first 15 games, but now Gomez got injured against Burnley when Joel Matip returned to the playing XI. Dejan Lovren is the only other centre-back in the team who has played very less this season after having a successful world cup with Croatia in the summer.
Manchester City may have little problem in their left-back as Benjamin Mendy is injured and his return is unknown which left Oleksandr Zinchenko as the only man available in this position. However, we saw Fabian Delph employed in this position on certain occasion to keep Zinchenko fresh for big games. In right-back position, they have no such problems as they have experienced Kyle Walker and Danilo waiting for their chances in starting XI on any given day.
The good thing for Liverpool is that they don’t have much back-up, but they have in-form duo for both positions. Andrew Robertson has earned his position as first choice left-back pushing much experienced Alberto Moreno on the bench, whereas Trent Alexander-Arnold at age 20 looks like a right-back who has already earned fame for himself. His replacement Nathaniel Clyne doesn’t even find his place in match day squad list as we saw Joe Gomez employed as right-back after Matip returned in playing XI as centre-back. Alexander-Arnold was given rest against Burnley, but it misfired as Gomez got injured playing in right-back role.
Manchester City real gem is their midfield. They have plenty of players to look on the bench on any given day despite their best player of last season Kevin De Bruyne got injured early this season. Guardiola has to choose four or five players out of 11 players who can be employed as midfielders or on the wings. He has Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Fabian Delph, Phil Foden, David Silva, Brahim Diaz, Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, and Riyad Mahrez. Quality is not the issue for him in his midfield department and having two good centre-forward in Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus is a luxury.
Liverpool’s midfield has always been a problem. They tried to solve it with bring two stars in Fabinho and Naby Keita, but their most reliable trio has been Jordon Henderson, Girginio Wijnaldum, and James Milner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is not expected to return before May 2019, Adam Lallana is not the safe bet considering his long injury prone career. Xherdan Shaqiri has somehow minimized their damages with his presence justifying his price, but now last season’s most fascinating forward trio is lacking the fluidity this season.
Sadio Mane is not the usual Mane, Salah doesn’t seem to be doing the wonders he did last season, and Firmino has always been on and off due to squad rotation. Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi simply lacks game time to prove themselves as real winner in this team.
They are winning matches and accumulating all the needed points, but they are really messed up in their forward department. They lack quality options in midfield and if SFM (Salah, Firmino, and Mane) have a bad day, you can hardly see Liverpool making an impact.
Can they win the Premier League? Yes, they can. But, they can’t afford any more injuries and not a very prolonged one. I hope Gomez return soon and his injury doesn’t prove to be a big scar on their title challenge.
Otherwise, they must make the most of their favourable fixture. On match day 16, Liverpool will play Bournemouth first and with a victory they may have a psychological advantage over Manchester City who will play Chelsea later.
Before City faces Chelsea, Liverpool will be on top of the table with a victory over Bournemouth and Citizens will have a difficult task against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea have lost their last two matches and they’ll be looking to bounce back at home after two away defeats. It’s a win-win situation for Liverpool, but they can’t take lightly seventh place Eddie Howe’s team.
However, that advantage will be short lived. Manchester City will play Everton at home to start match day 17, whereas Liverpool will have a difficult task at home against their traditional rival Manchester United. And, it will be coupled with an away trip to Wolves, whereas Man City will face Crystal Palace at home on match day 18.
On match day 21, Liverpool must have an advantage over Manchester City when they will meet in the return fixture on January 4, 2019. Liverpool played a dull 0-0 draw at home against City and now they must get a positive result away from home as well in this fixture.
On the half way battle, if Liverpool managed to lead the table and they may got eliminated from UEFA Champions League, they have the chance to lift the only trophy which is missing in their trophy cabinet. But, it’s a big sacrifice. Jurgen Klopp would never like to compromise European ecstasy for domestic season because he loves European football.
Liverpool can’t think of any other option knowing City is not going to lose many points in the remainder of the season. There may be some hiccups but Liverpool can also face those moments. With their squad, they can only hope to have lesser competitive games besides Premier League to really win the competition. Carabao Cup exit may also help Liverpool to reach the summit.