Last season's Premier League finish: 2nd - (W30 D7 L1 - F89 A22 - Pts 97)
Last season's top scorers: Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane - 22 (Salah scored 27 in all competitions, Mane 26)
To win the league*: 9/4
Predicted finish (BTSport.com writers' combined prediction): 2nd
Predicted finish by The Script: 2nd
Transfers in: Sepp van den Berg - PEC Zwolle (£1.7m), Harvey Elliott - Fulham (pending compensation), Andy Lonergan - released, Adrian - West Ham (free transfer)
Transfers out: Danny Ings - Southampton (£18m), Simon Mignolet - Club Brugge (£6.4m), Marko Grujic - Hertha BSC (loan), Harry Wilson - Bournemouth (loan), Alberto Moreno - Villarreal (free transfer), Sheyi Ojo - Rangers (loan), Connor Randall, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Bogdan (all released), Rafael Camacho - Sporting CP (£5m), Allan - Fluminense (loan extended), Bobby Adekanye - Lazio (free), Conor Masterson - QPR (free), Kamil Grabara - Huddersfield (loan), Ben Woodburn - Oxford (loan), Rhys Williams - Kidderminster (loan), Ovie Ejaria - Rangers (loan), Taiwo Awoniyi - Mainz (loan), George Johnston - Feyenoord (undisclosed), Nathaniel Phillips - Stuttgart (loan)
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Reasons to be optimistic
Liverpool finished with 97 points last season. In all but two of the previous Premier League’s 26 seasons, that total would have seen them end the campaign as champions. The Reds ended the campaign on a run of nine straight victories and lost just once across the piece, a 2-1 defeat at eventual champions Manchester City.
Given that City won the title by one point, Liverpool fans may reflect on one particularly painful moment at the Etihad. It saw them denied a goal by 11.7mm after John Stones’ dramatic goal-line clearance.
In truth, Liverpool’s undoing was a run of four draws in six between late January and early March that saw City overtake them decisively at the summit.
That only the finest of margins deprived Liverpool of the league title will give Jurgen Klopp encouragement. Each season the German has spent at Anfield his side have improved incrementally. Optimistic supporters should feel 2019/20 will be no different and they will take another step forward.
The system is already in place. Klopp’s 4-3-3 is well established and all the players know exactly what’s expected of them. In Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, Liverpool have the best pair of full backs in Europe. PFA Players Player of the Year Virgil van Dijk is maybe the best defender in the world and alongside him Joe Gomez will look forward to a season spent free from injury.
The front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah netted 56 Premier League goals between them and repeating that total is well within reach. Klopp’s options are further bolstered by the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury. The former Arsenal man adds a different dimension to Liverpool’s midfield and could yet prove another source of goals for the Reds.
In Europe, the Champions League triumph felt symbolic. Lifting the trophy provided Klopp and this Liverpool squad with their first taste of silverware together and they’ll be hungry for more in 2019/20.
Reasons to be fearful
Just how can you stop a team like Manchester City? Liverpool played at what seemed like maximum capacity throughout the season with key players all performing consistently at their peak.
Late winners were required to see Liverpool through against Everton, Tottenham, Fulham and Newcastle. There was a growing feeling that the title was destined for Anfield. And yet they still could not topple City.
“We have to say thank you so much to Liverpool,” Pep Guardiola said after his City side clinched the title on the final day. “They have pushed us to increase our standards.” A team as complete as City always seem to have more gears to go through, an ability to ascend to greater heights.
“As long as City are around it’s not like any team will pass them easily,” Klopp reflected after missing out on the title. “We need to be very, very close to perfection to win the Premier League.” Even closer to perfection than the 17 points off it they managed last campaign.
It’s a huge ask for Liverpool to repeat or better last season’s total. But against a City side who have amassed 198 points in their past two seasons, they might have to.
There is also concern over fatigue for each of Liverpool's front three. Salah, Firmino and Mane were all involved in international competitions deep into the summer and will not be at full fitness for the opening games of the season.
Key man: Virgil van Dijk
There’s a reason Van Dijk currently stands as the favourite with most bookmakers to lift the Ballon d’Or. Should he win, he’d be the first defender to do so since Italy's World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, in 2006. That demonstrates what a transformative player the Dutchman has been since joining from Southampton in January 2018.
A glance at Liverpool’s 50 games before and after Van Dijk’s arrival shows what a remarkable difference the centre-back has made to the Reds’ fortunes. Liverpool’s win rate improved from 52% to 66%, clean sheets improved from 18 to 24 and goals conceded dropped from 57 to 41.
With a front three as potent as Liverpool’s, scoring goals was never the issue. The defence was their weakness but the signing of Van Dijk, combined with Alisson’s arrival in goal, has remedied their rearguard issues and transformed them into serious title contenders.
Last season Van Dijk won 82% of his aerial duels, made more than six clearances a game and completed the second-most passes in the division, with 90% accuracy.
He is a titan at the back and the world’s most complete defender. As Liverpool bid to go one better than last season’s second place in the Premier League, the form of Van Dijk will be critical to their fortunes.
The manager: Jurgen Klopp
Now he’s stopped singing ‘Let’s Talk About Six’ to the tune of Salt-N-Pepa's famous ditty 'Let's Talk About Sex', Klopp can turn his attentions back to the ultimate goal - becoming the first Liverpool manager to win the league since Kenny Dalglish in 1990.
The German is adored by Liverpool supporters and has embraced the history of the club in a way no other coach has in recent memory. A deafening cheer emanates from the Kop with each fist pumping celebration the coach delivers after big wins.
Klopp is held in similar regard by his players, who he can be seen embracing with individual bear hugs after marching out on to the pitch at the final whistle. But heading into his fifth season in charge at Anfield, the 53-year-old knows the time has come to end 30 years of pain and lift the league title.
We know what to expect from Klopp’s men by now – a 4-3-3 gegenpress, fast starts, full-backs bombing forward and a ‘heavy-metal’ brand of football. After finishing with 97 points there’s no reason to change much.
But between Klopp and the Premier League title lies Guardiola and the Manchester City machine. Klopp managed to halt the Bayern Munich juggernaut, winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. With a team as dominant as City standing in his way, he’ll have to repeat the trick.
Fans' view - John Gibbons - The Anfield Wrap
"Everyone around the club is just so positive at the moment after winning the European Cup. There’s a growing confidence that these next few years will be glorious.
"It was massive for Klopp to win his first major trophy here. It keeps players hungry and wanting more. Until you win something together you always have that doubt about whether you can get over the line - the 2013/14 league campaign is an example of that. So winning the Champions League was huge.
"It’s true that it’s never been tougher to win the Premier League and the points totals last season show that, but we still back ourselves.
"You can only respect City and what they’ve done with back-to-back wins at nearly 100 points each time. I doubt they’ll have a blip and slip to below 90 points next season but they must also be looking over their shoulders at us. I’m sure it will be another epic battle.
"Jurgen has always seen this as a journey and the squad is getting better and better with time. He knows how to overcome a big-spending team after doing the same with Bayern when he was in charge of Dortmund. So he’s always looking at where he can improve the squad.
"We are looking for the midfield to kick on next season. It’s interesting to see how Fabinho develops but in Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita we have two players who could add something different from midfield. It’s a cliché but Oxlade-Chamberlain will feel like a new signing."
*All odds correct with bet365 at time of writing