This time last year Liverpool were contemplating how they could return to the top four having missed out on Champions League qualification.
A year on they are still focussed on getting back to the promised land but, since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival last October, there is the sense that it is a case of when rather than if the good times return.
The German doesn’t have a magic wand though, and, while he guided the Reds to two cup finals in his first season, the Premier League form was worryingly inconsistent.
After two transfer windows it’s his squad now and, free from the burden of European football, the club’s fans will expect to see Liverpool mount a serious challenge at the top end of the table.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Liverpool have backed Jurgen Klopp in the transfer market and the investment in the likes of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum has given the German the tools he needs to play his high-intensity pressing game.
A lack of European football should mean the Reds will only have to play one game per week, something that could prove crucial after the huge volume of games undoubtedly impacted their Premier League performance last term.
Reasons to be fearful:
For all Liverpool’s success in the cup competitions they struggled for consistency in the Premier League and have now only finished in the top four once in the last seven seasons. Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea are should all be stronger this time around and, if Daniel Sturridge is unable to stay fit, the club could be a striker light.
Sadio Mane (Southampton, £36m), Loris Karius (Mainz, £4.7m), Joel Matip (Schalke, free), Ragnar Klavan (Augsburg, undisclosed), Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle, £25m), Alex Manninger (free).
Out the door:
Jordon Ibe (Bournemouth, £15m), Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce, £5m), Joe Allen (Stoke, £13m), Jordan Rossiter (Rangers, £0.25m), Jerome Sinclair (Watford, £4m), Joao Teixeira (Porto, £0.25m), Danny Ward (Huddersfield, loan), Kolo Toure (Celtic, free), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon, £400k), Ryan Fulton (Chesterfield, loan), Ryan Kent (Barnsley, loan), Brad Smith (Bournemouth, £6m), Jack Dunn (Morecambe, loan), Jon Flanagan (Burnley, loan).
Roberto Firmino – The Brazilian enjoyed a good first season in English football and plays a vital role in Jurgen Klopp’s side.
One to watch:
Cameron Brannagan – The 20-year-old has been compared to a young Steven Gerrard and recently signed a new contract that will keep him at Anfield until 2018.
First five games:
Arsenal (A), Burnley (A), Tottenham (A), Leicester City (H) - Live on BT Sport 1, Chelsea (A).
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Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.