Liverpool have started the new season with intent, sitting two points clear at the top of the Premier League after a perfect start from the opening four matches before the international break.
It’s early days yet, but we think there are signs that this could finally be the Reds’ year in the title race, having come so agonisingly close just a few months back.
Here are five reasons things could be about to swing in Jurgen Klopp’s favour…
1) They finally have that winning feeling
To start things off, winning that first trophy is so important to creating a winning feeling within a squad. Liverpool were deserved European Champions last season, and it could be just the shot in the arm needed for a club that went a long time without silverware prior to that.
While Klopp had no doubt improved things at Liverpool even without that win over Tottenham in Madrid, he was already developing a reputation as a serial loser when it mattered most, with the Merseyside giants losing three previous cup finals during the German’s relatively short reign.
Of course, the league title remains elusive after such a long wait, but for this group it should now feel a lot more within reach than it has at arguably any point since their last one in 1990.
2) Manchester City due a blip
Okay, this might sound a bit fanciful – Pep Guardiola doesn’t really do blips. A third title in a row with 90-plus points should be pretty routine for a man who’s made a habit of it in his career in La Liga and the Bundesliga in his career so far.
However, this is the Premier League we’re talking about, and it’s a whole different ball game trying to get that kind of consistency over three whole seasons – and yes, it’s surely likely that 90 points or more will once again be required to finish in top spot.
In Spain and Germany, Guardiola won’t have faced a rival quite like this Liverpool side, while the quality of the best of the rest is also much higher; even if the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham don’t look in the best shape to challenge for the title, they can prove just difficult enough to spring a surprise or two between them along the way that could make all the difference.
Liverpool lost just one game last season and didn’t win the league – one bad trip to the Emirates or Stamford Bridge might well just dent City’s hopes this term.
Leroy Sane’s injury layoff certainly won’t help matters, and nor will some ageing members of this squad such as Fernandinho, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, all of whom are surely among those who might find it hard to maintain their previously exceptionally high standards.
3) City’s defensive issues
There can be no denying that, at some point, City’s issues at the back could surely come back to haunt them.
Yes, Guardiola has enough quality in attack that you’d almost question if he needs a defence at all, but, again, we are talking about a title race in which one or two bad results could be enough to see you lose your grip on the trophy.
With Vincent Kompany gone, Aymeric Laporte injured and no summer signing in defence, City are going to be seeing a lot more of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones than they probably would have liked.
It’s well documented by reports from the Metro and others over the summer that the reigning champions wanted Harry Maguire. They didn’t get him, or anyone else, and that could end up proving decisive.