THE RESURGENT REDS

THE RESURGENT REDS

The Red Machine is rolling again. After an injury-ravaged season that saw them struggle, Liverpool are slowly getting back to their brutal best. Jurgen Klopp’s men produced a five-star performance away at Porto in the Champions League. That marks an incredible start to the season as Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool sit on top of the Premier League as well as the so-called Group of Death in the Champions League.

This is a welcome sign for the reds supporters after enduring immense pain. Liverpool were dethroned in a humiliating manner after winning the league for the first time in 30 years. They stooped to a low point of losing home games at their fortress Anfield. Klopp had to issue a late rallying call to secure Champions League football at the least.

A part of the blame might be put on Liverpool’s stringent owners. The Fenway Sports Group didn’t reinforce the league winning squad well enough. It came back to bite them as a severe injury crisis saw their season being undone after the turn of the year.

Yet no major reinforcements were added this summer too. Only Ibrahima Konate, a centre-back, was signed to solve last season’s troubles. Credit must be given to Jurgen Klopp for turning the situation around. A long summer break was well utilized by the German manager to reinvigorate his charges. With key players returning, the Merseysiders are looking like themselves. A testimonial to prove their title credentials awaits this Sunday when defending champions Manchester City visit them.

BACK ON THEIR PERCH

Liverpool reigned supreme in 2020. Jurgen Klopp arrived on Merseyside in 2015 with only one aim. He vowed to put Liverpool back on their perch. Klopp masterminded a squad rebuild to turn Liverpool from an average side to an unbeatable one. Right from the Champions League final of 2018 to the Premier League title triumph in 2020, they were untouchable at times.

Klopp inherited a mediocre squad from Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool failed to adapt to the changing financial landscape at the turn of the century and suffered in the league. But financial freedom gained in the early 2000s was grossly misused as they never put together a league-winning squad. It all changed when Klopp joined forces with Micheal Edwards.

Through world-class scouting and data-driven analytics, the Reds worked wonders in the transfer market. Klopp signed gems like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk. Each player proved to be invaluable as the Reds dominated country and continent alike.

If not for Pep Guardiola’s rampaging Manchester City they could’ve won the league in 2019. Their point tally in 2019 could’ve won the league in almost all the Premier League seasons. The Reds were not to be denied in the Champions League as they won their sixth European crown.

The following season, they were simply unstoppable in the league. They walked away with the league by Christmas and were heavy favourites to be invincibles. But a slump saw them lose out on both Champions League and invincibility. The pandemic made them wait for the first league crown in thirty years. but it just delayed the inevitable as Liverpool got their hands for the first time on the Premier League title.

INTO THE STORM

Liverpool did win the league after 30 years. But they weren’t overly thrilled by it. As the pandemic put the fans away from the celebrations, they hoped to defend their crown next season when fans would come back into the stadiums. Little did they know that they were heading into a storm.

Dejan Lovren left Liverpool after winning the league. It left them with only three centre-backs as the board didn’t feel the need to replace Lovren. Instead, Diogo Jota and Thiago were brought in the advanced areas of the pitch. Liverpool endured a fine start to the season before losing 7-2 to Aston Villa away from home. A crazy game of football saw Liverpool break the record for worst ever defeat by a defending champion. It was a sign of things to come as Liverpool broke every wrong record they could.

In the fifth game week, in the intense Merseyside derby, Everton’s Jordan Pickford lunged onto Liverpool’s talisman Van Dijk. The Dutch centre-back left the field in pain and his season was instantly over. Klopp built his Liverpool like a machine that functions well only when all the pieces are in synchrony. With a key cog in van Dijk out, it began to malfunction.

By the end of December, Liverpool were top of the league but they were also without all three of their senior centre-backs. It was an unprecedented injury crisis as even Jordan Henderson, a makeshift centre-back was also injured.

To make things worse, a horrible loss of form to Mane and Firmino made them lose six straight games at Anfield. This came on the back of a 68 game unbeaten run at home spanning close to three years.

The title defence was lost and the reds did well to at least get Champions League football.

THE COMEBACK OF THE REDS

“At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky”, says Liverpool’s famous You’ll Never Walk Alone anthem. Klopp and Liverpool took it literally as they quickly put the last season behind them. Players like Salah, Mane and Trent Alexander Arnold got to rest while Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez were all making way from long term injuries.

The Reds had a better preseason and were ready to attack the new season like the previous one didn’t happen at all. They saw their rivals make big-money signings in the window. But Klopp held his Liverpool team together knowing his first XI when fit can give any team in the world, a run for their money.

A superb display at Norwich was put on the opening day. The returning Van Dijk showed Liverpool what they missed as he cleaned up defence and lead them from the back with his extraordinary diagonals. Salah and Mane found their goal-scoring touch as Liverpool pressed like their best self from two years ago.

Yet, the injury luck won’t leave them as just a month into the season, they lost young midfielder Harvey Elliott to a long term injury. Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Trent Alexander Arnold are all facing spells on the sidelines again.

Despite these difficulties, they drew with a 10 men Chelsea and dispatched everyone in the league. A win against Brentford could’ve given them a three-point lead at the top. A rare defensive lapse was capitalized by the Bees as they stole a point from the reds. Still, they top the table with a single point lead over Manchester City. Two comfortable outings in the Champions League also see them top the group there.

City visit Anfield this Sunday. Despite this being just the seventh game week, It is already billed as a title decider. If Klopp and his Liverpool are to make another title run, a statement is needed on Sunday. Over to you Salah and Co, Anfield awaits.

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