Are we title contenders?

Just a few games into the season, we are second favourites to win the EPL.

Granted, the football we played, when in full force, is devastating, and few teams can cope with that. Perhaps, just perhaps, some are too quick to judge.

I expect Man United and Chelsea to put on tougher fights come second half of the season, as it will take some time for their new managers to adapt, just like Kloop in the beginning when he took over.

What about Spurs and Arsenal? Spurs have been quietly climbing up, maybe not as proficient as they were with Harry Kane but I would say they will thrive with the spotlight often on the ‘more-acclaimed’ managers, while Arsenal are decent as always, despite losing to us.

So where do we really stand at the moment?

I think currently, Manchester City are title favourites, followed by Arsenal (yes I mean it), then maybe throw us in the mix together with Spurs, Man U, and Chelsea.

I would say as fans we can dream, and we will, but it would be a much tougher fight as the season progress along, thus it is vital we can take as much points as we can right now, while the other contenders find their way and consistency.

But one thing’s for sure, we’ll take one game at a time.

Liverpool 5 Hull City 1

Another win, another 3 points, but another goal conceded.

Definitely a good, solid win, given the fact that we have struggled against ‘beatable’ opponents for the last couple of years.

I thought the intention from the first whistle was clear – playing from the front foot, harassing the opponents for the ball. Matches like this make you feel that we have the potential to challenge for the title, if we can keep up this standard throughout the season.

Defensively, still need work to be done at Melwood. Clyne was a little bit caught ball-watching, Karius might have come out to get the ball, depends on how you see it. There were also occasions where Klavan and Matip loose touches almost gave Hernandez a chance, but then again it’s hard to be perfect.

Wijnaldum is getting closer and closer to getting his first goal for us, he got a couple of shots which on another day, could have gone in. Lallana was solid as usual, Coutinho unplayable, and Mane causing lots of problems with his pace and movement.

Next up will be the lunchtime kick-off at Liberty Stadium against Swansea, where Llorente can cause us major problems.

For now, a job well done, rest and recovery, and back to Melwood for more training and preparation.

Liverpool vs Hull City

The moment has almost arrived.

The match that will show, if Liverpool have changed its ways.

Most fans would be more nervous for this game, than the one we had against Chelsea, and rightly so.

It’s been 8 or 9 years since a Gerrard double saved us a blush against the same opponents, to savage a point for us.

Kloop has boldly mentioned that our players have to play angrily against Hull at Anfield to get the 3 points, and let’s hope the crowd can do its part to cheer the players on from kick-off.

The starting line-up would be a familiar one, with the only tough one to call is whether Mignolet or Karius get the nod to start. Clyne Matip Lovren and Milner pick the defence itself, while in midfield, Henderson, Wijnaldum and Lallana should be starting, with Mane Sturridge and Firmino/Coutinho as the front three.

It is expected that Hull will sit deep and hit us on the counter, that we will have to be wary of, as well as their work-rate, with is second to none because of their team spirit. Thus, it is extremely crucial for us to start on the front foot right from kick-off, to pile the pressure with the ball circulating in their half, looking for openings.

An early goal will definitely help to settle the nerves, and hopefully it will lead to a comfortable victory.

Derby County vs Liverpool

EFL cup. Why do they love to change the name of this cup I have no idea. The more they change, the less it is prioritised.

Anyway, back to LFC business, this game would give the perfect opportunity for Kloop to give some players a point to prove, while young players would love to get a chance to play as well.

Karius might be given a competitive debut to ease him into first team action, with the likes or Randall, Trend Alexander-Arnold (let’s just call him ATA) getting some minutes on the full back positions. Kloop’s got to feel like he likes ATA, having given him couple of chances at pre-season.

Sakho, if deemed by Kloop, may start as well, with Joe Gomez not yet match fit. Ilori doesn’t seem fancied by Kloop, I expect him to be heading out pretty soon.

Expect Klavan, Moreno and Lucas to start as well, and so does Stewart, who I believe can be pushing for a spot in the starting lineup. Grujic should (finally) get his chance too, and maybe Ojarie too.

Brannagan have to start (I’m just biased), and I hope Ings and Ojo can get into the first eleven to prove their worth as well.

Let’s get the win.

What I hope Kloop will start with:

Karius

ATA Lucas Klavan/Sakho Moreno

Grujic Stewart Brannagan

Ojarie Ings Ojo

Chelsea 1 Liverpool 2

3 point on the way back to Liverpool. Job done.

If only we can sustain the energy for 90 minutes.

The 1st half was perfect, harassing and pressing, which, to be honest, we are getting used to seeing it. 2nd half, Kloop decides to sit deep and absorb the pressure, and thankfully, we survived.

I thought that the first goal showed a bit of work from Melwood working on set pieces, with Coutinho swinging in a deep cross from the left after a free kick to the far post, where there were 3 or 4 red shirts.

Thankfully, Sturridge, who was in an offside position, didn’t touch the ball, with Lovren blasting in into the top corner of the net with a solid touch. Great goal.

Second goal, what a hit by Henderson. Picked up a ball at the edge of the area, one look, and bamm, goal. That was class.

Generally, I thought he’s improving and learning well in the deep midfield role, he seems to know where to be to pick up loose balls around the pitch, although he still has to work on tracking midfield running when defending.

For the first time this season, Mane was relatively quiet in the match, marked well by the right footed Spanish full back.

Sturridge was poor in my opinion, didn’t do much with build up play and doesn’t offer a focal point at the front. Origi, when he came on, was poor as well, though I have to say he didn’t get much service with us dropping all 10 players in our own half, leaving him isolated. Could press much more though.

Milner struggled with William on the flank, and thankfully didn’t give away a penalty when he was nutmegged by Ivanovic, while Matip and Lovren being solid. The former has had a decent start, and hopefully can build up a good partnership with Lovren.

All in all, good 3 points away from home, and now back to Melwood for more work before¬†Tuesday’s game against Derby in the EFL cup.

Expect Kloop to make changes though. The likes of Grujic (I need to see him playing!), Klavan, Lucas, along with young lads from the Academy will get their chances to play.

Liverpool 4 Leicester City 1

1st game at Anfield, 1st home win.

What a good way to start a season with the first home game, against reigning champions, Leicester City, with 3 points on board.

  1. Lallana’s playing like it’s his last game

Definitely first player on the starting eleven for Kloop. Opened his England goal account with a last minute winner just a few days back, he scored a stunner yesterday, while being involved with other goals as well.

Kloop and his coaching team has improved his game tremendously, with him playing now as more of a No.8 or a No.10 role centrally, his relentless pressing (he clocked 13km during the game) and ability to sense that the opponent is nervous with the ball, is a joy to watch.

And now, adding the final product, being involved in goals in the final third as well. Looks like he’s finally realising his full potential.

2. Firmino proving his worth

Anywhere in the front four, he can play. Created the most chances this season in EPL. He’s starting to show some consistency to add to his double digit goal tally last term.

One thing that we always forget is that he tackles well, and knows how to win the ball back high up the pitch, while his selfless runs without the ball to create space for teammates around him is key to why Kloop is playing him so often.

I expect big things from this lad.

3. Sturridge getting the message sent by Kloop?

He has improved, although I do expect much more with regards to his pressing. There were times during the match where I thought he should have started the press from the front, but fair play to him, he drop back deep a couple of times to intercept and win the ball back.

One thing to note is that there were a couple of runs he made without the ball in the final third to wide areas which drag centre-backs out of position, creating space for Firmino and Mane in central areas.

Maybe Kloop indeed can change him, but I expect much more from him. Good attitude though.

 

It may just be a few games into the season, but I think we are improving, and hopefully will keep improving as well – defence will still need to be worked on at Melwood. Time to kickstart our season proper.

 

We’re back at Anfield

Finally, the pointless international break is almost over.

Finally, we get to play at Anfield.

Finally, there’s something to look forward to at the weekends.

So, Liverpool versus Leicester City, the EPL title holders.

Team news: Sadio Mane is cleared fit to play this weekend, after initial fears of him being injured during his game for Senegal.

What a player he has been so far, and it’s not far fetched to say that majority of fans from around the globe would want him to be the first name on the starting eleven.

Pace, power, strength, directness, and most importantly, goals.

Work-rate, assists, and a team player. Maybe our DS15 can learn a thing or two from him.

Lallana played decently for England as well, we should be seeing him in the starting eleven. Hopefully, it is an upward trend for him to keep improving his game.

The only concern is that Emre Can is apparently still injured, whether or not it was related to his previous ankle injury relapsing after not being fully healed we have no idea.

Which leaves us a big question mark in central midfield. Kloop got some tough decisions to make, counter-attacking teams like Leicester can tear open our midfield at ease if there’s not a balance.

I do hope Grujic gets a chance to start, and young homegrown talent Kevin Stewart as well. These 2 youngsters certainly can bring something different to our midfield, while Wijnaldum is certainly much more effective higher up the pitch.

I reckon Milner to start again at left-back as well, with Matip likely to retain his position at centre-half alongside Lovren after an impressive outing against Spurs.

Predicted line-up: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Henderson, Grujic, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Mane.

Subs: Karius, Klavan, Lucas, Stewart, Wijnaldum, Origi, Sturridge.