Liverpool battled hard towards the end of the 2020/21 campaign to finish in the Premier League top four, earning a Champions League place for next season. However, Jurgen Klopp and his team were far from their best throughout the term, which fell well below the recent high standards expected of the Merseysiders.
There were mitigating circumstances as injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson robbed the Reds of two of their best and most influential players on the field. In addition, Alisson was dealing with personal problems after the death of his father. The rest of the squad were having to cope with fatigue after the previous season stretched into July before they lifted the Premier League crown.
As a result, there were a lot of factors for Klopp and his men to contend with, which is testament to the fine effort it took to rally to finish fourth. Liverpool is backed at 5/1 in the football betting odds to regain their Premier League crown. It will take a special effort to dislodge a rejuvenated Manchester City after they stormed to the title last term, while Chelsea is on the rise after their Champions League triumph.
The Reds are more than capable of bouncing back to compete for the crown, but there are key elements of their squad that need to improve from last season.
Van Dijk’s injury was extremely costly for the club. Jordan Pickford’s horror challenge on the Dutchman in the Merseyside derby ruled the defender out for nine months. Matters were made worse when Joe Gomez suffered a serious injury during international duty for England, leaving the Reds without their first-choice pairing at centre-back. Eventually, the losses would loom large over the season.
Henderson was then struck down towards the end of the campaign with a groin problem. Restoring these players to full fitness is vital for the club, repairing the core of the side. If they are able to play an entire campaign, Liverpool will have filled their leadership void along with an imposing backline once more.
Mohamed Salah was fighting a lone battle at times in the final third of the last season. The Egyptian has been nothing short of outstanding since his move to Anfield, and his 22 goals in the Premier League last term ensured that the Reds finished in the top four. Sadio Mane notched 11 strikes in the top flight, well below the standards expected of the Senegalese player.
Mane perhaps, more than any other player, appeared to be struggling with his workload amid his exploits from the previous two seasons. Roberto Firmino scored nine goals over the course of the campaign. The Brazilian has come under the spotlight for his prowess in front of goal and needs a better return next term or the Reds could look to move on from the 29-year-old.
Liverpool rose to the top of the Premier League and European football based on the strength of their recruitment. They made savvy signings over a period of time that resulted in an incredibly talented squad that suited the style of Klopp to a tee. Georginio Wijnaldum was a major part of their success but the midfielder has now left for Paris Saint-Germain.
The Reds need to ensure his replacement is up to standard and other areas of the squad could be improved, too. Firmino and Mane have perhaps reached their respective peaks, while Henderson cannot be relied upon to start 50 plus games. Liverpool needs to turn the page on some of their older players to ensure they remain competitive.