The Graham Cummins column: Liverpool certain to retain Premier League title

The Graham Cummins column: Liverpool certain to retain Premier League title

Liverpool might have been beaten in the League Cup but they look odds-on to retain their title. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

THEY might not finish 18 points clear this season but I expect Liverpool will still comfortably win the Premier League this campaign.

Liverpool have three wins from three games and although there has been moments in those matches where Jürgen Klopp’s side have looked vulnerable, there was always the inevitable feeling that the Reds would triumph. Liverpool have the knack of knowing how to win games, whether that be just doing enough like they did against Leeds or simply dominating a game like they showed against Arsenal, the Merseyside club have all the traits of Champions.

In games Liverpool have gone behind this season, I never felt that the Reds would drop points. Klopp’s side are so confident, they don’t panic going a goal down. They know that they have the players capable of getting them back into the game, and eventually, going on to win the match.

Going behind in games seems to wake the Liverpool players up and they simply up the tempo of the match and inevitably score.

Liverpool are the fittest team in the league. Their pressing without the ball is reminiscent of Pep Guardiola’s great Barcelona side. They press high up the pitch, which does sometimes leave them vulnerable, but they will score more goals than they concede playing this way. It’s so impressive the way they close down opposition players. It’s not simply a case of the nearest man closing down and the rest of the team just admiring. They press as a unit and set traps.

Their high intensity wears teams down and that is typified by their full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson. They make attackers defend them rather than the other way around. 

They know that eventually, attackers will switch-off and opt against tracking them back. We saw this with Robertson’s goal against Arsenal on Monday night. Willian tracked Robertson back the pitch but switched off for a split-second and the Liverpool defender exploited Willian’s lack of concentration and punished Arsenal by scoring.

Not having supporters at games was always going to affect teams. Some teams might benefit from it whereas others might suffer. I thought Liverpool, would be a team that would be hampered by the omission of supporters at games. The noise and the atmosphere that the Liverpool supporters create on a game day in Anfield is the best in the league and there’s no doubt the players thrive off it. 

I was worried not having the crowd behind them, would mean a lack of intensity from the Liverpool players but judging on their performances so far, Klopp’s team have maintained the high standards they had last season when fans were allowed attend games.

That’s not to say not having supporters at the games hasn’t affected the Liverpool players. Without fans at games, it will make games feel more like friendlies rather than competitive games and perhaps some of the Liverpool players feel they were playing in friendlies with Virgil van Dijk and Robertson already having made uncharacteristic mistakes that have lead to Liverpool conceding goals.

Liverpool will win the majority of games at Anfield without supporters but they just might not win by as big a margin were fans allowed attend games and encourage their players to score more.

Clubs that will benefit from not having supporters at games are teams like Manchester City and Arsenal. It makes no difference to them whether there is a crowd at their games because their supporters don’t create an atmosphere anyway. It certainly helps Arsenal because their players can be sometimes ‘soft’ in terms of being intimated by a crowd, particularly in away matches.

The depth of Liverpool’s squad has been questioned in the past but the signings of Konstantinos Tsimikas, Diogo Jota and Thiago will quash any doubts people have over Klopp’s squad. Tsimikas and Jota may be used sparingly but I would expect Thiago to become a regular and improve an already impressive Liverpool starting 11.

City will be the team to get closest to Liverpool in terms of points but I don’t think Guardiola’s team have improved their squad on last season whereas Liverpool have. Yes, they have spent over €100 million on defenders Nathan Ake and Ruban Diaz but it’s the loss of David Silva and the persistent injuries Sergio Aguero keeps picking up, that will hurt City most.

Apart from City, there will be no other team in the league Liverpool will be worried about with the rest a long way off getting to the champions high standards.

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