How close are Liverpool to winning the Premier League?

Liverpool are on of the few true contenders for the Premier League title, but just how close are they to winning it?
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

For much of the last season, Liverpool made it easy to overlook the reality that their squad lacked the quality, and certainly the depth, to win the Premier League title.

In the final weeks of the campaign however, that reality began to set in as the Reds tumbled from the top of the table to third and finished seven points behind runners up Arsenal and nine short of champions Manchester City.  

Despite the heartbreak of missing out on the title in Jurgen Klopp’s final season, it’s an achievement in itself that they could even challenge as strongly for the prize just one season after slumping to a fifth-place finish.

The Reds’ squad underwent a major transformation last summer as captain Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Roberto Firmino-all key players throughout the club’s recent period of success- departed and Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo arrived to revamp Liverpool’s midfield.

The season was by and large a success

Most Liverpool supporters would have considered a top-four finish and return to the Champions League a success for this past campaign.

Klopp’s side not only met those expectations comfortably but exceeded them convincingly by finishing seven points closer to City than to fifth-place Tottenham.

Klopp may not have ended his magnificent spell at Anfield with the league title, but he has undoubtedly laid the foundations for his now-former side to compete for it once again.

However, if Liverpool are to build on Klopp’s work, they’ll still need to strengthen several areas of their squad throughout the summer transfer window, starting with its front line.

In each of the three seasons in which Liverpool finished with above ninety points, both Salah and Mane bagged at least 16 goals a piece.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah
SL Benfica v Liverpool FC - Quarter Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

The highest tally after Salah’s 18 league goals this season was Darwin Nunez’s 11. The difference may seem trivial, but when battling a side as relentless as City, who have won the last four titles in succession, such margins are decisive.  

Loss of form at the wrong time cannot happen again

Salah’s total loss of form in the second half of the season along with the shocking wastefulness of Nunez, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo in front of goal were ultimately the chief contributors to the Reds’ downfall.

Of all of Liverpool’s forwards, only Diogo Jota proved himself a reliable finisher throughout the entirety of the campaign but his proneness to injury often rules him out for long periods.

Diogo Jota
Fulham FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Liverpool could do with one or two additions to their midfield as well. Szoboszlai and Endo both excelled at times, but visibly struggled at others, notably during the tail end of the campaign.

Liverpool CEO of Football Michael Edwards should prioritize a holding midfielder in particular as Endo was only an emergency signing at the end of last summer’s transfer window and at 31-years-of-age, is not the club’s long-term solution at the position.

Squad wise, Liverpool are strongest at the back, where they boast the most quality and depth. Virgil van Dijk remains one of the best centre-halves in the world and should Ibou Konate stay fit for the majority of the campaign, he and the Liverpool skipper form arguably the strongest center-back duo in the league.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson both enjoyed strong campaigns while Joe Gomez, Jarrell Quansah, and Conor Bradley all established themselves as dependable backups should Arne Slot need to shuffle his squad. 

Arne Slot has plenty of talent at his disposal

Ultimately though, Slot’s ability to harness the quality of his players will be the biggest factor in how seriously his side can contend.

Michael Edwards and FSG selected Slot as Klopp’s successor because their data-centered analysis highlighted his style of play at Feyenoord as highly compatible with the current personnel of players.

It’s now up to the Dutchman to implement his system at Anfield and it may take him time to identify what adjustments he must make to better suit the challenges of Premier League. 

In addition to getting the feel of a new league and home, Slot will also have to learn to manage the weight of expectations at Liverpool.

With all respect to Feyenoord, this represents a sizable step up from any of his previous jobs and he has a massive pair of shoes to fill by taking over from Klopp after the immense success the German’s eight and a half years at the club delivered. 

Slot has truly accepted quite the challenge at Anfield. However, if he proves up for it and if Liverpool can supply him with the final updates necessary to their squad this summer, the red half of Merseyside can and should once again set its sight on England’s most coveted prize.