How Liverpool will line up in 2018-19

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Jurgen Klopp's side have had a good summer but now they must show they can challenge for the Premier League title

After a near-miss last season and a positive summer, Liverpool look ready for another strong campaign under Jurgen Klopp.

The memories of the Reds' Champions League final defeat in May have faded as a new-look outfit plots a dual assault, both domestically and on the continent.

Klopp's side are being tipped by many to provide the strongest challenge to Premier League champions Manchester City this season, with four impressive new arrivals and the core of the side which impressed so often last term. 

Liverpool have goals, they have pace and they have energy. Klopp will hope their transfer business in the close-season has given them greater solidity and depth, too. 

It promises to be quite a campaign at Anfield...


Goalkeepers


Alisson Liverpool Napoli

It is fair to say that few signings arriving into the Premier League this season will do so under as much pressure as Alisson Becker, Liverpool's new No.1.

Signed for £65million ($84m) from Roma, the Brazilian is the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of football. The 25-year-old will be asked to adapt quickly to English football, but arrives with a stellar reputation as his country's No.1 (ahead of Manchester City's Ederson) and off the back of an excellent campaign in Serie A.

He'll replace the hapless Loris Karius as first choice, with the German clearly still affected by what happened in Kiev. Simon Mignolet, for now, remains at the club but is likely to leave. Danny Ward has joined Leicester, leaving youngsters Kamil Grabara and Caoimhin Kelleher to potentially step up as No.3 options. 

Alisson, though, will be the main man for Klopp.


Defenders


Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2018-19

For many it remains Liverpool's Achilles heel, but Klopp has resisted the urge for major surgery on his backline this summer.

Understandable, given the £75m ($97m) signing of Virgil van Dijk in January, and the manner in which full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson emerged during last season.

Dejan Lovren, fresh from his appearance in the World Cup final, should be Van Dijk's regular partner this season, leaving Joel Matip as a rotation option. Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez will ensure competition at right-back remains fierce, while Robertson must contend with Alberto Moreno on the other flank. 


Midfielders


Naby Keita Liverpool 2018 pre-season

Where Klopp did spend, however, was in the centre of the park. Liverpool finished last season with only three fit senior midfielders, with James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum and captain Jordan Henderson forced to run themselves into the ground during the final weeks of the campaign.

All three remain, but have been added to in the shape of Fabinho, a defensive-minded signing from Monaco, and the dynamic Naby Keita, whose move from RB Leipzig was agreed last season.

Those arrivals are offset by the loss of Emre Can on a free transfer, and by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's injury, which will likely keep him out for the entire season. Adam Lallana, at least, is fit after an injury-hit campaign but faces a battle to find a starting spot, especially if Klopp looks to use someone like Xherdan Shaqiri or Daniel Sturridge to turn his front three into a front four.

The likes of Henderson and Milner should still see plenty of football, with Fabinho and Keita giving the manager increased options in terms of how he sets his side up - potentially as a 4-2-3-1 as well as his favoured 4-3-3.


Attackers


Mohamed Salah Sadio Mane Liverpool Champions League 2017-19

Now for the fun part!

Liverpool scored 135 goals in all competitions last season, of which their front three - Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino - produced 91. 

Those three, of course, will be key again this season, though all eyes will be on Salah in particular as he seeks to follow a quite remarkable debut campaign on Merseyside.

Klopp has added only one new face to his forward line, with Xherdan Shaqiri bringing decent pedigree and Premier League experience. The Swiss international may not be one to start every game, but should provide a quality option from the bench. 

Likewise Daniel Sturridge, who has enjoyed a productive, sharp pre-season. How long he can stay fit remains to be seen, but it would be a boost for Klopp to have the England international available and motivated; he represents a better option than Dominic Solanke or Divock Origi, that's for sure.


Manager


Jurgen Klopp in Kiev

He's worn a steely look all through pre-season, has Klopp. Almost as if he knows that he has the tools now to make serious inroads in the big competitions. 

His side have already done that in Europe, of course, battering Porto, Manchester City and Roma en route to the Champions League final, where a combination of genius, calamity and injury cost them against Real Madrid. Now, the question is whether Liverpool can get over the line and win a major trophy - they have lost in three finals and finished second in the league since their last piece of silverware, back in 2012.

Klopp has shown in almost three years on Merseyside that he can get his team playing front-foot, aggressive football, though he would like to see a more solid outfit at the same time. His summer purchases, he hopes, will ensure that.


How Liverpool could line up


Liverpool's line-up has been easier to predict than some other sides' over the last 12 months, but there remain questions to be answered in the opening weeks of the season. 

You can write in at least eight guaranteed starters; Alisson in goal, Van Dijk, Lovren and Robertson at the back, Keita in midfield and that dazzling, dynamite front three.

Which leaves Alexander-Arnold vs Clyne vs Gomez at right back - Alexander-Arnold is surely the man in possession there - and the mish-mash in midfield. Fabinho will be a starter in the long-term, but Klopp has hinted he may require time to get used to English football. Don't be surprised if Henderson starts the season, or if the two are used together to give a more powerful look.

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How much we see of the others - Milner, Lallana, Wijnaldum, Shaqiri, Sturridge - will depend on how fortunate the Reds get with injuries. At least this season, more so than last, they should be equipped to cope when problems reach them. 

Possible Liverpool team 2018/19

 

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