Jamie Carragher feels Liverpool are serious title contenders this season.
The Anfield legend feels that Jurgen Klopp’s team have shown so far that they have the potential to challenge for the title.
Liverpool have not won the title in 27 years, and Carragher – who never seems to shirk from telling it like it is – feels that this team could be the ones to finally end that wait.
Klopp’s side haven’t had the easiest run of fixtures this season, having already faced the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Despite this, they are still at third position in the table, tied on points with both Arsenal and Manchester City who only sit above them on goal difference.
Carragher has clearly been impressed with their start to the season and the exciting brand of football Liverpool have been playing, and believes they can finally win the Premier League this season.
“If someone had said Liverpool would have been sixth or seventh and a couple of points off top four at this stage of the season, I think Liverpool fans would have been delighted because of the tough start they had,” the former Liverpool defender told Sky Sports.
Carragher also went on to compare this team to the one that nearly clinched the title three years ago, only to falter in the final few games of the season :
“I know defensively it still looks like they have big problems, but their intensity with the ball and the way they close people down, it’s reminiscent of a couple of years ago. I go back to that season under Brendan Rodgers, and don’t forget that extra energy, that intensity, closing people down and fast football almost took Liverpool to the title.” he said.
Carragher himself had retired at the start of that very season, when Luis Suarez inspired some of the best football Liverpool have played in recent times.
Liverpool eventually missed out on the title by a mere two points, most notably after a now-infamous slip by fellow Englishman and Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard led to a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.
This was followed by a shocking 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace, and many look to this as the day the title was lost.
Suarez himself was inconsolable, and was led off the pitch in tears by captain Steven Gerrard.
There are definitely some similarities between the kind of football then-manager Brendan Rodgers’s side was playing, and Jurgen Klopp’s side are playing now.
Both favoured a high press, with opposition players put under intense pressure every time Liverpool lost the ball high up the pitch.
Rodgers’s players also had brilliant chemistry when it came to attacking play, as evidenced by Suarez and strike partner Daniel Sturridge registering 23 and 21 goals in the league respectively.
Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane – who are currently Klopp’s favoured attacking combination – have all scored 4 goals each already this season in the Premier League alone. James Milner is on 4 goals – although penalties have added to this tally – and Adam Lallana, who has been sidelined occasionally by injuries, is on 3.
This sharing of goalscoring duties could be one of the key reasons Liverpool can challenge for the title. Klopp has also publicly said he is paying special attention to both his goalkeepers and the defence, and this will come as music to the ears of Liverpool fans from whom the defence has been the main concern this season.
Free signing Joel Matip has been excellent, but it is Alberto Moreno – whose attacking play is a big plus going forward – who will need to improve if Liverpool are to shore up their defensive line.
If you look at the only two teams above them, Arsenal and Manchester city have both staked their claim as title contenders as well. Arsenal have shown signs of faltering, with the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening day and the 0-0 draw to Middlesbrough being stand-out examples of why Arsene Wenger’s side may not be able to mount a sustained title challenge.
Manchester City on the other hand, have also faltered having dropped points to both Southampton and Everton and being convincingly dispatched by fellow title-hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur. Guardiola has his side playing some breathtaking football at times, but concerns over the ability of Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne to play entire seasons without missing significant periods through injury are yet to abate.
Klopp’s side have somehow managed to quietly look the most consistent so far, with the only “shock” result coming during their 2-0 loss to Burnley. The only other points they have come in 0-0 draws to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, which are both results that aren’t necessarily negative.
Carragher is not wrong in saying this squad has the potential – clearly their start to the season has shown that – but will they be able to keep up their intense brand of football for the rest of the season? Klopp has done it before with Dortmund, and has had time to mould this team into his own image. If Liverpool sort out their defensive frailties soon, Carragher could well be right about Jurgen Klopp’s team.