Every fan has a whiff of optimism before the start of the new Premier League season because, well, if you can’t be positive when every team starts on a level pegging, when can you be?
But it’s fair to say some fans will be looking forward to the beginning of the campaign more than others.
Liverpool supporters will certainly be in the former category and there is a real feel-good atmosphere at the club.
A terrific end to the 2017/18 campaign saw Jurgen Klopp’s men narrowly miss out on Champions League glory – losing 3-1 to Real Madrid in the final.
But that positivity seems to have carried on into the summer as the club has put their hands deep into their pockets to expand their squad – spending over £170million on signing Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Reds have also enjoyed a good pre-season where they have torn apart the likes of Manchester United and Serie A giants Napoli.
Some have even backed Liverpool to win their first ever Premier League title and their first league crown in 29 years including former Red Dean Saunders but is this something that could realistically happen?
I believe it will and here’s why.
Salah, Firmino and Mane
When Liverpool missed out on winning the Premier League in the 2013/14 season, the club went about their summer business in completely the wrong way by selling their best player Luis Suarez and using that money to acquire Mario Balotelli.
It seems Fenway Sports Group have learned their lesson this time and have made sure they are keeping all their best players this summer.
Mohamed Salah, the PFA Player of the Year last season, signed a new five-year contract for his stunning efforts last season which saw him bag an incredible 44 goals in all competitions while Roberto Firmino, who put pen-to-paper on a long-term deal in April, scored 27 goals.
Sadio Mane reportedly hinted at a potential Anfield exit shortly after their loss in the Champions League final but it seems a deal to extend his stay with the Reds is in progress.
The three of them are lethal together and they put many teams to the sword last season.
Salah, Firmino and Mane were at their very best in the Champions League, which saw Liverpool beat Porto 5-0 away from home, Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield and also register a brilliant 5-2 victory over Roma in their semi-final first leg tie.
Egyptian Salah and Senegal international Mane were both eliminated at the group stage of the World Cup, while Firmino did not feature heavily for Brazil so the deadly trio could hit the ground running this season and it’s unlikely they will look back.
As well as keeping their most important players, Liverpool have brought in some new faces to make them even stronger and in the right positions too.
A goalkeeper was a priority after Loris Karius showed he wasn’t up to the job of being the club’s first choice goalkeeper following his nightmare display in the Champions League final.
And Liverpool spent a world record transfer fee at the time to get the man they wanted in the shape of Alisson.
The Brazilian is expected to offer a calm presence between the sticks which the club has really lacked since Pepe Reina was there. This calm will undoubtedly make Liverpool’s defenders perform better knowing they’ve got a great keeper they can rely on.
The Reds have also bolstered their midfield, signing Fabinho and Keita. Brazilian Fabinho is defensively-minded and will give more protection to a back four that was left exposed too many times last season, while Keita will be everywhere on the pitch!
The 23-year-old agreed to sign for the club a year ago but he did one final season at RB Leipzig before playing for his new club and he should give Liverpool that extra flair in the middle of the park.
His acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss most of the season through injury.
Meanwhile, Shaqiri’s £13m move from Stoke is a smart piece of business by Liverpool.
The Switzerland international will have a hard time keeping the front three out of the team but he is a great player to have at your disposal, especially during games where you’re not having it all your own way.
Shaqiri is capable of producing a moment of brilliance out of nothing and is decent in a dead ball situation. He could end up playing a bigger role than expected in the coming season.
Manchester City will struggle to reach the same heights as last season
City were deserving winners of the league and you could make a strong case that they have been the best team to have ever played in the Premier League.
So where do you go from there?
They are Liverpool’s stiffest challenge for the crown but a fairly uneventful summer transfer window for the Citizens could work in the Reds’ favour.
Pep Guardiola’s side might lack the same zip as they did last season due to a lack of new blood and Liverpool could exploit that as they are a team clearly on the rise.
Liverpool also know how to beat City. The Reds inflicted the Citizens’ first league defeat of the campaign in January and also knocked them out of the Champions League last season, which shows Klopp’s men do not fear any challenge for the title.
The manager is the most important reason of the lot as it’s his work since taking over in October 2015 that has primarily led Liverpool to being in contention to win the Premier League.
He had the almighty task of not only bringing in the right players to make the Reds competitive again but to change the entire mentality of a club too.
And little by little he’s built the club back into one that is competing at the highest level.
Without Klopp, the Salah, Firmino and Mane partnership would probably not exist and without them Liverpool would not have got some of the results they did last season.
They definitely would not have been able to attract the calibre of players they have this summer.
The players, the club’s hierarchy and the fans buy into Klopp’s way and this will be crucial when the going gets tough.
But the Premier League title is there for the taking for Liverpool.
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