Liverpool Roundtable #1: Season Preview

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Liverpool fans show their support prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at Anfield on December 13, 2015 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Liverpool have enjoyed a successful summer as preparations for the new season continue. The Reds have been victorious in six of their eight, coming out on top against teams such as Bayern Munich and Athletic Bilbao. With summer signings Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson already proving to be great additions to the squad, there is plenty for fans to be optimistic about heading into the new Premier League campaign.

In the first ever addition of the Reds Roundtable, writers Aidan Semple, Vesko Trajkovic James Plumb and William Frost sat down to preview the upcoming season.

Liverpool Roundtable #1: Season Preview

Realistically, what do you expect Liverpool to achieve this coming season?

Aidan: The top four race is going to be incredibly tight this season, but Liverpool remain in a good position to make the top four. At the very least this is something the Reds should be targeting in the league. As for cup competition, it would be great to see Klopp’s side win a trophy – something they’re still very capable of doing, and break their five year trophy duck.

Vesko: Expect Liverpool to be fighting for the very top, seriously challenging for the title. Klopp will have his side playing extremely attacking football and simply outscoring opponents, similar to the run they had in 2013/14. Last season their drop from the top was largely caused by the mid-season absence of Sadio Mane, but the AFCON will no longer present a problem; as it’s not being held this season. Also, the addition of Mohamed Salah and the inclusion of Ryan Kent should provide cover if by some unlucky chance Mane becomes unavailable for a period.

James: Expectations for the Reds this coming season are higher than they have been in a long time. The additions Klopp has made to the squad so far have looked really impressive in pre-season and the team has looked unstoppable at times, playing dynamic counter-attacking football. Many Liverpool fans thoroughly expect Liverpool to challenge for the league title and be competitive in domestic cup competitions. However, the squad still looks a little thin and a few additions need to be made for the Reds to really be able to compete in all four competitions this season.

WilliamGetting back into the top four is going to be much more difficult than first thought. There isn’t a team in the top six that doesn’t have a stake in the title race, therefore Champions League qualification is a realistic expectation of the reds this campaign. Of course, a trophy would make a welcome addition and hopefully Klopp’s reds can make a better showing than Liverpool’s last venture into Champions League football.

Who do you think could prove to be the most important player in the squad this season, and why? 

Aidan: Philippe Coutinho remains Liverpool’s most talented and most influential player. However, Sadio Mané made a major impact last season, with his pace and attacking dynamic winning him Liverpool’s Player of the Year award. Therefore, in a similar way, Mohamed Salah could become Liverpool’s most important player, provided he makes an instant impact. Salah has impressed in pre-season, and expect him to have a strong first season on Merseyside.

Vesko: Without a doubt, Philippe Coutinho. The “Magician” has been Liverpool’s main player for a while now, and has now reached a very high level of quality. What’s more, he’s likely to get only better as the season progresses. It is no coincidence that a club the size of Barcelona have been tracking him for a while, and if Liverpool fail to make the next step in their progress under Jurgen Klopp, they will find it very hard, if not impossible, to keep him next summer.

James: Without question, Philippe Coutinho is the best player Liverpool have. The Brazilian will be crucial to Liverpool and their success this season and his quality is unquestionable. With Coutinho likely to play a deeper role in the midfield this season his playmaking and creativity will be on full display. The question still remains as to whether the Reds can keep hold of him amid strong interest from Barcelona. If he leaves, Klopp will need to act quickly to fill a major hole in the squad. 

WilliamGeorginio Wijnaldum. With Naby Keita staying in Germany and Adam Lallana out injured, expect to see Wijnaldum’s role in the Liverpool midfield become increasingly vital this season. An unsung hero for the majority of last year, Wijnaldum can play through the middle, out wide and in a deeper role if necessary. That sort of versatility will come in clutch as Liverpool compete in more competitions this year.

Which young player would you like to see break into the first team this year? 

Aidan: It will be interesting to see how 17-year-old Ben Woodburn does this season, after impressing both last season when he was selected. However, the player poised to make the biggest impact is Solanke. The 19-year-old should get his opportunities in cup competitions, and potentially in the Premier League too. In pre-season, Solanke has showcased his strength and finishing ability as a number nine. He is definitely a player worth looking out for.

Vesko: This is a difficult question. Expect Trent Alexander-Arnold to give Nathaniel Clyne some stiff competition for the right-back role, and don’t be surprised if at some point during the season he fully takes over. On the other hand, Ryan Kent had a fantastic pre-season and will most probably get his chance, just like Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke. But Alexander-Arnold seems to have come furthest down the road towards a regular spot in the first team.

James: Without a doubt Marko Grujic. With Lallana out for the foreseeable future and Coutinho’s future in doubt, Liverpool could be left with a hole in the midfield. Grujic has looked really consistent in the Reds pre-season games and seems to have not only improved, but also matured over this summer. Many fans have been crying for Grujic to get his chance ever since he came to Merseyside and hopefully this season he finally gets it. Elsewhere in the squad, Solanke and Kent have both impressed Klopp and expect both may feature in domestic cup competitions as well as pushing for a place in the league squad.

WilliamTrent Alexander-Arnold. Obviously, this is no surprise, as the young defender is the latest academy graduate to get fans excited. However, his development is something that needs to be carefully monitored. Not yet good enough to side-line Clyne, it is important that any first-team football isn’t at the detriment to the success of the team. Fully expecting him to feature heavily in domestic cup competition and his run at the start of this season (with the absence of Clyne due to injury) will be telling to the kind of season we can expect from the youngster.

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