They’re sitting pretty on top, but can Liverpool finish the job and win the English Premier League?
After 21 games of the 2023/24 English Premier League season Liverpool are top, holding a five-point lead over second placed Manchester City. Will they maintain that gap for a first EPL title since 2019-20? Let’s take a look at why they can – and why they might not.
Why they can win
The German manager has rebuilt this Liverpool side this year. The team has been dubbed as Klopp’s ‘Liverpool version two’.
The rebuild was focused on the midfield, with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Fabinho and James Milner leaving the club. The old guard of that spectacular Liverpool team was replaced with younger and fresher footballers, such as Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch.
Along with these new faces, there have been breakthrough stars such as Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, and more recently young fullback Connor Bradley.
Jurgen Klopp when he arrived at Liverpool was viewed as a young energetic manager, whose teams play a ‘heavy metal’ style of football. This team still has that ‘heavy metal’ impression, they seem to thrive in the chaos of a match. They don’t play like Manchester City or Arsenal who are controlled and measured in everything they do.
Darwin Nunez is the archetype of this chaos characteristic; he is the most unpredictable I have had the pleasure of watching.
While Mo Salah is out with this hamstring injury, Liverpool must rely on players like Darwin Nunez and Diego Jota, who recently both scored twice in Liverpool’s 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Klopp is an excellent manager, I would argue is the best pound-for-pound manager in the world.
Mentality and Mindset
‘Version two’ is a team built around a new leadership contingent of Virgil Van Dijk and 25-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold, along with other senior players.
If you had the opportunity to watch a Liverpool game this season, you would have seen the team form a huddle before the game started. This was introduced by captain Van Dijk, who carried the concept over from his time at Bournemouth. The huddle ends with a big shout and the players exit looking hungry for blood. The attitude and mindset of this Liverpool team are a big reason why they can win the league this year. This is exhibited in the 19 points Liverpool have salvaged after being in a losing position.
This is more than any other team in the division, showing this team’s hunger and desire to be successful.
Mindset and mentality is a difficult thing to quantify. If you want to understand what I’m talking about, watch Liverpool’s 4-3 victory over Fulham this year. Liverpool scored two goals at the death to turn a loss into a win, and you could see how much it meant to the players and the manager.
The quality of the Premier League
The top half of the Premier League currently is extremely high. A team like Aston Villa is the perfect example of the development of the ‘weaker teams’ in the competition. They were promoted in 2019 and currently sit 4th, tied on points with 2nd place Arsenal and 3rd place Manchester City on 43 points.
The improved quality of the top ten teams means it is more likely for Liverpool’s competitors to drop more points. Especially, for a team like Manchester City who tend to go on a big winning run at this point of the season, that will be harder for them to do. This can also be a negative because it is just likely Liverpool drop points to more teams. However, any reason that Man City might not get as many points is positive for Liverpool.
Why they can’t win
Pep Guardiola’s team are coming off a historic treble win. They are undoubtedly the best team in the world and beating them is exceptionally difficult.
However, they have shown weaknesses this season with losses to Wolves, Arsenal, and Aston Villa. Unfortunately for Liverpool, City tend to go on a rampage in the second half of the season. They often string together ten-plus wins in the back half of the season, making it very difficult to keep up with them. On top of this, key midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has just returned from a lengthy injury.
This season has already seen the majority of Liverpool’s players out with injuries at some point. The latest being talisman Salah and integral midfielder Szoboszlai.
Whilst Liverpool has dealt with injuries remarkably well this year, it will only get progressively harder to maintain performance levels with a high number of injuries.
As a Liverpool supporter, I will back them to win the league this year. However, Manchester City are still finding their feet this season and are certainly going to be hunting Liverpool down at the top of the table.
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be a wonderful watch.