For the first time since 1990, Liverpool Football Club will begin a season as defending champions of England.
The Reds strolled to their first title in 30 years last season while taking 99 points from 38 games (the second-highest total in Premier League history) and finishing a massive 18 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, despite a late-season dip after the championship was secured.
Liverpool face newly-promoted Leeds United in their opening fixture of the 2020/21 season. Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to see his side get off to a positive start and lay down an early marker to the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, who have been incredibly active in the transfer market.
So, with the action about to get underway, what do we think might happen to Liverpool heading into the new season? Let’s take a look at some of the tactics, narratives and potential outcomes.
1. Surrender their title but stay in the top two
Liverpool and City have been the best two teams in England over the past two seasons and it’s not even close. The North West rivals have taken combined points totals of 196 and 179 respectively during that time (for context, Chelsea are next with 138) outscoring and proving more defensively resolute than every other side along the way.
Klopp is yet to seriously strengthen his title-winning squad, so far only adding Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiacos. However, with a starting XI the envy of most in Europe and a number of developing players enjoying increased minutes in recent months — including Takumi Minamino, Curtis Jones, Neco Williams and Harvey Elliot — there’s little to suggest Liverpool will drop out of the top two anytime soon.
The Reds are a 4/9 bet with William Hill* to finish at least second and that’s without mentioning the potential transfer of Thiago, who is priced at 1/3 to move to Anfield before the summer transfer window closes.
That said, Pep Guardiola has been incredibly busy revamping a side which ultimately flopped in 2019/20 compared to their lofty standards, bringing in Nathan Ake (£41m) and Spanish playmaker Ferran Torres (£20.9m) from Valencia. With the Citizens heavily linked with Kalidou Koulibaly, the best may be yet to come for the blue half of Manchester and if those deals go through, there will likely be no stopping them.
William Hill’s 2020/21 Premier League title odds:
- Man City – 8/11
- Liverpool – 2/1
- Chelsea – 11/1
- Man Utd – 12/1
- Arsenal – 40/1
*You have to be 18+ to gamble. All odds and offers within this article are accurate at the time of writing (11:00, 07/09/2020). BeGambleAware.
2. Keep the highest number of clean sheets
Klopp has quickly turned his side from counter-attacking juggernauts into defensive domineers and as a result, only Man City (37) have kept more clean sheets than Liverpool’s 36 in the Premier League over the past two seasons. Furthermore, the Reds have conceded the fewest number of goals in the English top-flight for consecutive campaigns, allowing 33 in 2019/20 and only 22 in 2018/19.
As mentioned, City have brought in Ake and are seriously linked with Koulibaly from Napoli. However, even those signings might not go all the way toward remedying Guardiola’s inconsistent defence, with the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones often proving unreliable and Aymeric Laporte having struggled with injuries.
Regardless, you can expect another monumental defensive effort on the red half of Merseyside. Virgil van Dijk has firmly established himself as the world’s best centre-back and, alongside him, Joe Gomez looks increasingly consistent with every passing season — the England international is arguably one of Europe’s most underrated prospects — while another elite defender in Joel Matip having from injury for the recent Blackpool friendly. Did we mention the imperious figure of Alisson in the net, too? Or Liverpool’s world-class full-back pairing of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold?
It’ll be close with Liverpool priced at 7/2 to end the 2020/21 Premier League season with the highest number of clean sheets — tucked just behind Man City at 9/4 — but don’t be surprised to see it happen.
Liverpool vs Leeds: William Hill betting offer
William Hill are offering new customers enhanced odds of 20/1 on Liverpool to score vs Leeds United during Saturday’s Premier League fixture. If you’re over 18, Gamble Aware and meet the rest of the terms and conditions, you can click here to access the offer.
New customers using EPL20. Mobile only. Applies to bets placed from 09:00 on 10 September 2020 until 17:30 on 12 September 2020. Max £1 bet at 20/1. Returns paid as 4 x £5 free bets (30 day expiry). Player & currency restrictions & terms apply.
3. Do the Merseyside derby double
Can you believe it has been 10 years since Liverpool last lost against Everton? Just to underline how long ago that really is, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta scored the Toffees’ second goal that day and Seamus Coleman is the only player left at Everton to feature in that match, while Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool XI contained the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and… Paul Konchesky.
Since that Sunday afternoon in October 2010, Liverpool have inflicted 11 defeats upon their neighbours across all competitions, drawing the other 11, including a 5-2 humiliation at Anfield in December which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Marco Silva. It has been choke after choke in the derby in recent years for the blue half of Merseyside.
Carlo Ancelotti may be seriously bolstering the Everton midfield with the prospective signings of James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure on top of Allan, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to turn this faltering side into European contenders, or indeed serious competitors against their illustrious neighbours.
4. Mohamed Salah to be Liverpool’s top scorer
Sadio Mane has scored 40 Premier League goals over the past two seasons, Mohamed Salah has scored 41. Trying to separate these two phenomenal forwards is nigh on impossible and both have played crucial roles in Liverpool’s success in the past couple of years, dovetailing off central striker Roberto Firmino.
Mane finished last season marginally more strongly (four goals during the season’s final nine games to Salah’s three) but the No.11’s status as first-choice penalty-taker gives him a key advantage; Mane has, in fact, never taken a Premier League spot-kick.
Across all competitions, Salah has edged his Senegalese strike partner for goals scored in every season he’s been at Anfield and there’s no denying he has elevated himself to ‘rockstar’ status like no other in this Liverpool side. In Klopp’s own words, the Egyptian is “world-class” and trying to defend against him is the stuff of nightmares.
William Hill’s 2020/21 Premier League Golden Boot odds:
- Harry Kane – 5/1
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5/1
- Mohamed Salah – 11/2
- Sergio Aguero – 15/2
- Timo Werner – 10/1
- Raheem Sterling – 11/1
5. Close in on Chelsea’s unbeaten home record
Liverpool’s 5-3 win over Chelsea during their final home game of the 2019/20 Premier League season saw them extend their unbeaten record at Anfield in the competition to a massive 59 games; the Reds haven’t tasted defeat on their own patch since facing Crystal Palace, then managed by Sam Allardyce, way back in April 2017.
However, Klopp’s side still have a long way to go if they’re to match Chelsea’s competition record run of 86 home games without defeat, starting in February 2004 and finally ending in October 2008 (against Liverpool, no less).
Still, Liverpool’s form at Anfield during their own unbeaten run has been incredible. The Reds have kept 33 clean sheets from those 59 matches while they’ve only conceded 36 goals and scored 155 of their own, leading to a goal difference of +119. Simply put, they’ve been absolutely formidable.
Don’t be surprised to see Klopp’s side go another Premier League season with fortress Anfield still intact. If they do so, it’ll take them to 78 home games unbeaten and tantalisingly close to Chelsea’s record.