Liverpool cannot get much better than finishing inches away from a quadruple, so TEAMtalk’s Jonny Whitfield assesses how Jurgen Klopp will respond in 2022/23.
The Reds came so close to winning the lot last season yet also seemed so far away. The FA Cup and Carabao Cup triumphs were great, but the lack of goals and scraping through on penalties shows improvement is there to be made.
Liverpool in fact made it three finals without a goal in the Champions League, so all was not as rosy as it once seemed.
Manager Klopp will stop at nothing to add to his silverware at Anfield and it will no doubt be another intense journey for Liverpool.
TEAMtalk writers have six different categories to dissect – including where the team will finish in the Premier League table, how the cup competitions will go and who will end the campaign as Player of the Season.
LIVERPOOL PREMIER LEAGUE FINISH
Whether it was the 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Anfield, the 2-2 draw with Brighton or when they also blew a two-goal lead at Chelsea, Liverpool were on the wrong side of the fine margins last season.
Such discussion after a 92-point campaign is frankly ridiculous, but that is the reality of chasing the Premier League in the 2020s.
It is a reality Liverpool have been in, having romped to the title with 99 points three years ago. And it is a reality they have to get themselves back into next season.
But I’m going to go with Liverpool second once more, just missing out to City again. And the killer will be the Reds’ top-six head-to-head record as well as injuries – for the second season running.
Liverpool finished behind City in last season’s top-six head-to-head table. The difference? A five-point swing, showing where Liverpool need to make up ground.
But with Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all improving, matches against big rivals will become tougher.
And injuries will no doubt play their part. They cost Liverpool in the 2-2 draw with Brighton, when Thiago Alcantara was already out. Naby Keita withdrew in the first half for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving young Tyler Morton stranded as the last remaining option – but he remained an unused substitute.
Liverpool certainly have what it takes to win the title, but I feel those fine margins will creep up on them again.
On the flipside, the Champions League is a completely different ball game and I am backing Liverpool to win it.
Klopp’s side should have won against Real Madrid in last season’s final. The Reds’ 24 shots to Real Madrid’s four is one of several lopsided statistics from Paris, but propping everything up from underneath for Madrid – and pushing it all back in Los Blancos’ favour – was Thibaut Courtois.
The Champions League is not a 38-game slog but a competition of moments. Fine margins remain like in the Premier League, but there is a different feel to their parameters.
Liverpool have a catalogue of storied moments in the competition which have helped them reach three finals in five years.
Yes, two of those have ended in defeat, but those experiences will help them clinch a seventh European Cup. After their 2018 defeat to Real Madrid, Liverpool won it in 2019. And I am backing history to repeat itself – perhaps against Bayern Munich this time.
Injuries may play their part like they could in the Premier League, but I think individual contributions can go a much longer way to deciding the Champions League, with Karim Benzema the prime example last season.
DOMESTIC CUP PERFORMANCE
Liverpool won both the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup last season, but I don’t think they will retain either of those crowns. I’ll say the Reds will exit the League Cup at the quarter-final stage and the FA Cup in the fifth round.
Klopp’s men have historically struggled to get through the earlier rounds in both competitions.
With Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz likely this season’s senior front three, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino could therefore fill in in the domestic cups. But Jota and Firmino will also be required heavily in the Premier League and Champions League.
Last season, Liverpool had the clinical Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino on top of all that. This season, they don’t.
Youngsters such as Fabio Carvalho and Harvey Elliott could also shine in the domestic cups. But as a collective across the pitch, I just don’t think Liverpool have enough to win both domestic cups again.
LIVERPOOL PLAYER OF THE SEASON
It is perhaps no surprise that I am going to say Salah in this category. He has been Liverpool’s top scorer in every season he has been at the club and I don’t see that changing.
He will enjoy a flying start like he always does, spurred on even more this time by his new contract. Salah has been all smiles in pre-season and in top shape, with Klopp saying in mid-July that he could start the season “now”.
And I am backing him to make it a hat-trick of 30-plus goal tallies in his Liverpool career.
He will not have the Africa Cup of Nations to worry about, which reduced his game time and contributed to a drop in his standards thereafter.
What’s more, Salah’s Egypt are not at the World Cup, so the forward can celebrate solely on the first year of his new contract with another unbelievable goalscoring campaign.
SIGNING OF THE SEASON
I can’t see Calvin Ramsay getting much game time with Trent Alexander-Arnold the undisputed Liverpool right-back, so this one is between Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez.
I am going to go with Carvalho, the 19-year-old attacking midfielder who has joined from Fulham.
He has impressed in pre-season, but Klopp has been keen to stress that he can do much better in some areas.
Nevertheless, there have been claims from some of the Reds fanbase that he is our new Philippe Coutinho – and I can definitely buy into that.
I know I’ve said injuries will bite Liverpool along the way, but that’s not to say Carvalho can’t shine in the midfield. He looks a special talent and at 19 years of age, he is a year younger than when Coutinho moved to Anfield.
Carvalho is of course his own player, but Liverpool have not had an attacking midfield prospect like him since Coutinho left. After the Brazilian’s move to Barcelona, the onus went on full-backs Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to be the creative forces.
Now, though, Liverpool have a rising talent in the centre of midfield ready to cause havoc again.
In another sign I think the midfield will be the key area to watch at Liverpool this season, Curtis Jones is my pick in this category.
The 21-year-old has had two full seasons at Anfield now and the 2022/23 campaign looks like it could be make-or-break for him.
A confident player, Jones will always back his ability. And he has set the bar high by targeting 10 goals and 10 assists.
I don’t know whether he’ll hit that target given the rotating Klopp likes to do in his midfield. But if injuries strike, he could get a run in the team and eat through a good chunk of those goal contributions.
I like Jones and want to see local players do well for their boyhood teams, so the England Under-21 man is my pick to turn heads this season.
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