It’s safe to say that 2019 was a great year for Liverpool Football Club.
Not only did the Reds go through the entire year without once losing at home, they racked up a frankly absurd number of points in the Premier League; 98 to be exact. They started the year off with a loss away to Manchester City but that was their only defeat in the division as they then went on to draw five and win a mind-boggling 31 of their league games for the rest of the year.
On the continent they won the club’s sixth Champions League, beating Spurs 1-0 in Madrid back in May, and then became World Champions in December after beating Flamengo 1-0 after extra time. Basically, they were absurdly dominant, so roll on 2020 – right? Surely things can only get better from here, especially with the players Liverpool have at their disposal?
Well, let’s have a look at that. They’ve already added one new face in January by signing Takumi Minamino and have been linked with several other extremely tasty signings. What could the new decade hold for the rampant Reds? We had a look and came up with three possible teams they could deploy in 2020, both this season and next.
Liverpool are 28/1 to win the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League this season, according to William Hill*.
*You have to be 18+ to gamble. For more information, go to BeGambleAware.org
They say if it ain’t broke, why fix it? And Liverpool’s first-choice XI is currently so far from broke they’ve accumulated the sporting equivalent of Jeff Bezos’ net worth. The Reds are a fabulous side, perfectly structured to play exactly the way they want to. There are weaknesses there, sure, no side is perfect – but Liverpool are so good at doing what they do.
Alisson keeps goal with immense assurance in part because he’s playing behind the delightfully-scented Virgil van Dijk. As we’ve seen over the last few years any of Liverpool‘s three potential partners for the Dutchman are ‘good enough’ but the Reds always look most secure when Joe Gomez is next to Van Dijk, largely because Gomez has the devastating foot-speed to make recovery tackles in the vast spaces behind Trent Alexander-Arnold. And he has to leave those spaces because the young Englishman is Liverpool‘s chief creator.
Alexander-Arnold finished last season with more assists than any defender in Premier League history and he’ll probably shatter that record this year too. He’s phenomenal and balanced out by the blue collar Andrew Robertson on the left. The full-backs are the attacking thrust for the Reds, which is why the midfield is more functional.
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Fabinho holds as only Fabinho can, Jordan Henderson is there to help him but also raid forward – and Naby Keita does much the same on the other side of Fabinho. Of course, the difference is that Henderson moves off the ball whilst Keita is a ball-carrying phenom. Neither shirk their defensive responsibilities either so the Liverpool midfield, whilst the weakest area of the side, gets the job done.
In attack we have the impossibly good trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané. These three are so good together it almost defies belief. Their understanding of space and how to exploit it, as well as the excellent understanding they have of each other’s games, make them a genuine thrill to watch. They’re all at the peak of their powers and can keep on going for years to come.
The Back-up Boys
Liverpool’s squad is not always known as the greatest, but actually it’s mostly well put together. There are a few holes, but those are being plugged by a promising group of youngsters coming of age at seemingly the perfect time.
So Adrián is in goal, and the Spaniard has proven a solid back-up in the past. Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren will reunite at the heart of defence, and whilst neither is a world-beater, together they used to play well as a partnership. On the left we have old-stager James Milner; the kind of man you can never keep out of your side because he’s so relentlessly professional he influences others positively.
Right-back is young Neco Williams. The Welshman showed against Everton that he has the attacking thrust to make it work. Gini Wijnaldum holds midfield (although his contract expires in 2021 so let’s see if the Reds renew or release him) whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain plays next to him. The third midfielder is Curtis Jones, whose spectacular strike sealed the recent Merseyside Derby.
Jurgen Klopp praises new signing Takumi Minamino
In attack new boy Minamino is given a chief creator role coming in off the left, exchanging places with Divock Origi much as in the FA Cup win over Everton. Origi will act as the side’s main goalscorer and with his unshakeable self belief should be more than effective in any cup games Jurgen Klopp would use this team in. Finally, from the right the young sensation Harvey Elliott will offer thrust and potency as Xherdan Shaqiri will probably be discarded.
The New Weapons
Liverpool are 6/1 to sign Jadon Sancho by 1st February 2020, according to William Hill*.
According to David Ornstein in The Athletic, Liverpool are only considering a major signing if they have to fill a spot in the first-team. So to that end reports linking them to Kylian Mbappé and Jadon Sancho seem to be missing the key detail that there is no open spot in the Liverpool attack for those players to fill.
But what if their was?
Real Madrid are always on the hunt for a new Galactico and Zinedine Zidane’s distaste for Gareth Bale is pretty obvious. Given his penchant for scoring streaks and shirtless selfies, Salah could fit in perfectly in that right-wing slot at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sure there’s an old interview where he professes to be a massive Barcelona fan but that such loyalties didn’t stop Isco or Luka Modric from playing and excelling for Madrid, so Salah may yet be tempted to leave Anfield.
And on the opposite flank, Mané’s quiet brilliance is a hand-in-glove fit for those nerds in Catalunya. Leo Messi even voted Mané as the best player in the world during 2019 and has been going on about how great he is. And of course Barcelona need a left-winger that has ligaments made out of something besides old crisp packets, so Mané fits the bill. He’s even over the age of 25 so Ernesto Valverde‘s phobia of young players wouldn’t be an issue. Imagine a front three of Messi, Mané and Antoine Griezmann? Woof!
If both of those deals were to happen, and of course this is an extreme fever dream here but let’s roll with it: how would Liverpool fill those two holes in the side? Well probably with Sancho and Mbappé.
Sancho is a player tailor-made to play for Klopp; a blisteringly quick winger with devastating skill, superb self-belief and the talent to both score and create goals for fun. He wouldn’t so much light up Liverpool as function as some kind of walking fission reactor, giving off enough energy to launch Anfield into space.
As for Mbappé, well he’s just brilliant isn’t he? A born phenomenon who could play for any team and any system around. Put his pace and finishing alongside Alexander-Arnold‘s crossing and you’ve got a duo so powerful that Jeff Bezos and tax evasion will start sweating bullets. He’d surely shatter Salah‘s goalscoring feats and then stand there in his B-Boy stance alongside Alexander-Arnold smirking as Liverpool won everything for the next decade.