Big-spending Liverpool fancied for title

There have been false dawns in the past as Liverpool have gone hunting a first title since 1990 and a maiden Premier League success, but there is growing belief that Jurgen Klopp can bring silverware back to the Kop after a heavy summer spending splurge.

Liverpool smashed the world-record transfer fee for a goalkeeper after Alisson completed his mega-money deal from Roma on Thursday, following on from the earlier arrival of midfield duo Fabinho and Naby Keita as well as versatile squad player Xherdan Shaqiri.

It's a summer spending spree in excess of £175m - £100m more than any of the other big six - and a signal of intent from the owners, Fenway Sports Group, that Klopp will be given the tools to bring the title back to Anfield.

The Merseysiders were 8-1 fourth-favourites on the opening bet365 show in January to win the 2019 Premier League title, a price which has collapsed to 9-2. Only odds-on champions Manchester City are seen as more likely to finish on top.

Getting the better of a City side who collected 100 points remains a tough task, but Liverpool eased past the Manchester side en route to the Champions League final where they were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid after two horror mistakes from keeper Loris Karius.

Klopp stood by his fellow German in the aftermath of the heavy criticism, yet actions speak louder than words and the move for Alisson, Brazil's number one, shows Liverpool mean serious business.

A modern keeper who is good with his feet, Alisson is also a top shot-stopper and is arguably an even greater upgrade between the posts than City managed this time last year when they swapped Claudio Bravo for Ederson.

"We got him because of his existing strengths which is the highest level in all of the goalkeeping departments," said Klopp of the 25-year-old who he also described as "one of the world's best".

Liverpool improved defensively anyway in the second half of last term once Virgil van Dijk got accustomed to life at Anfield and the classy Dutchman also seemed to bring out the best in partner Dejan Lovren, who reached the World Cup final with Croatia.

Fabinho adds more steel to the midfield and Keita brings an abundance of energy, a must in a Klopp side, and they have managed to keep Premier League Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah at the club despite reported interest from Real Madrid.

Salah and Roberto Firmino have both agreed new contracts and the positive signs reverberate around Anfield despite a long-term injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while the opportunity to sign Lyon's Nabil Fekir fell through at the last minute.

Emre Can departed for Juventus but the overall squad depth has improved and Klopp could field a second team which may read something like this: Karius; Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno; James Milner, Adam Lallana, Gigi Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings.

Fourth-placed Liverpool need to find 25 points to leapfrog City, although on expected points Klopp's side were seen as the second-best team in last season's Premier League, roughly 11 points behind.

It's still a disparity but the chasm is not quite as large as the bare facts suggest, particularly as Liverpool concentrated on the Champions League once it became clear the top-four race was basically settled.

Klopp's men collected only nine points from their last six matches as they managed to remain unbeaten at fortress Anfield, losing only five Premier League matches in total.

You've heard it before but maybe this time it's for real - Liverpool are gunning for the Premier League title.

Match in Focus

15:00 Sa 25May SKY

Newport Co v Tranmere

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Newport are unbeaten in 12 matches.
Expert verdict
Michael Flynn’s Newport headed into the playoffs as the fourth tier’s form side, securing seventh spot by finishing the season ten games unbeaten. Tranmere will know all too well about County’s disciplined defensive, having failed to score in both league meetings with them and, even with James Norwood leading the line, they look vulnerable.



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