Liverpool have enjoyed a strong first half of the campaign, and it has some believing that their title wait could be coming to an end this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s men look primed to battle reigning champions Man City throughout the year, as they have leapfrogged one another in the standings in recent weeks.
While the Reds haven’t been as prolific in attack this season compared to last year, the key difference that they’ve made is to tighten things up defensively.
They boast the best defensive record in the top flight, and having now built that foundation to go out and win games, it is proving to be a crucial factor in their pursuit of success.
However, things were a bit more complicated in their group in the Champions League, as they eventually snuck through with a win over Napoli at Anfield in the last group-stage game.
If they wish to repeat their run to the final last year and go one step further, Klopp will hope to see more convincing displays when the competition resumes in February.
Virgil van Dijk. Although it has been a collective effort at the back, the Dutchman’s influence has undoubtedly been a major factor in Liverpool’s improved defensive displays.
From his aerial prowess to his reading of the game to pull off interceptions and his pace to match the quickest of attackers. He seemingly has it all and makes it look so easy while offering composure and technical quality on the ball too.
Provided he can steer clear of injuries and continue to be so influential, he promises to emerge as one of the heroes of this campaign if Liverpool can continue on their current path.
While Fabinho has had his struggles in settling on Merseyside and has produced some indifferent displays since being given a chance by Klopp, it seems unfair to label the Brazilian ace the worst player so far this season.
In turn, that title goes to Adam Lallana for a similar reason, in that he continues to be plagued by injury problems and has been unable to make a positive impact for the Reds.
The 30-year-old has been limited to just six relatively brief appearances so far this season, and coupled with the fact that he’s capable of playing a key role for Liverpool, it will be bitterly frustrating not to see him in action on a more regular basis.
As per The Telegraph, it has been suggested that Liverpool could push for Borussia Dortmund ace Christian Pulisic, albeit it’s added that he’s valued at £70m by the Bundesliga giants.
That’s a lot of money for a player who has yet to entirely prove that he can deliver consistently at the highest level, but at only 20 years of age, he has certainly shown plenty of promise.
With 15 goals in 114 games for Dortmund and nine goals in 23 outings for the USA, Pulisic has proven that he has a bright future ahead of him for club and country.
However, time will tell if that’s sufficient to convince Klopp and Liverpool to invest so heavily in him. It has to be said though that he would certainly add a different dynamic in attack and give the German tactician a fresh, new option to ensure that the Reds can compete on multiple fronts.
Manager job safety
It’s fair to say that given the way in which Liverpool are taking each week as it comes and continuing to prove that they’re capable of launching a genuine title bid this season, Klopp is under no threat at all.
He has overcome some tricky periods in his stint in previous campaigns with Liverpool battling for a top four finish in the Premier League, but now with the bar set higher and his squad seemingly responding positively with results to back it up, he can focus his full attention on the job at hand rather than face any question marks over his future at Anfield.
Realistic aim for rest of the season
At this point, it has to be the Premier League title and another deep run in Europe. Toppling Manchester City won’t be easy, nor will trying to get past Bayern Munich in the round of 16 in the Champions League.
Nevertheless, Liverpool appear to have the quality, depth, solidity and belief this season to give it a serious go, and they will be aiming high.
The true test will come in the second half of the campaign as ultimately City have been there and done it all before. The Reds, and Klopp himself, will have to hold their nerve and ensure that they have the right mentality and approach to keep themselves in contention deep into the business end of the year.