The reasons behind Liverpool’s dominance in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season
Liverpool created history of sorts by winning their nineteenth first-division English league championship in the 2019/20 season by ending a long wait of thirty years. This was also their first Premier League title given the fact that when they last won the top-division English football league (in 1989/90), it was not stylised or known as the Premier League. Their stellar showing this season has opened the eyes of many clubs, most affected by which should be their oldest and closest rivals Manchester United.
The Red Devils from Old Trafford last won a Premier League title seven years ago in the 2012/13 season, which was incidentally Sir Alex Ferguson’s swansong. They have struggled ever since and can do well to take a leaf out of Liverpool’s book and do away with the banter and friendly badinage they associate with the team from Merseyside.
Managed by the effervescent and witty Jurgen Klopp, who has had varied success with German club Borussia Dortmund in the past, the Reds have made Anfield a fortress although this turnaround did not come about all of a sudden. They had been the finalists of the UEFA Champions League in the 2017/18 season losing to Real Madrid CF and later won the title themselves in 2018/19, beating fellow English club Tottenham Hotspur in the final.
This was their sixth European title and one that was very well-deserved. In the Premier League too, Liverpool were runners-up in the 2018/19 season, finishing second behind a rampant Manchester City, who were putting into effect their ruthless manager Pep Guardiola’s words. Liverpool, however, were not dismayed and kept undergoing the processes, seldom worrying about the result.
However, once you have worked so hard, how can the result evade you?
This was also the case with Liverpool as they finally got their hands on the Premier League title this season. The announcement of them being champions came in a strange manner, after Chelsea defeated Manchester City, preventing the latter from challenging for the title, but Klopp’s men did not care. They were over the moon, and rightly so.
The Reds had worked tremendously hard and the result was very sweet. At the time of writing, Liverpool stand on top of the league standings with 93 points to their name (30 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses) in the 35 games they have played in this season. It is surprising, as well as astonishing, that they have lost only two games this season (one of which, a 0–5 shocker against Manchester City came after they had won the title. Only once before had they been completely outplayed, by Watford 0–3 at Vicarage Road in late February.)
Klopp’s men have been doing a lot of things right and one of the reasons why they have managed to succeed for such a long period of time in the Premier League this season is the fact that their bench is extremely strong.
No longer has the German manager had to rely entirely upon the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to pull them out of danger whenever things went wrong. The likes of Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino have heeded the call of their manager and put up spectacular performances as and when the situation demanded. Origi is widely known for his ball controlling skills as is Firmino for his apt finishing.
Klopp’s midfield wasn’t entirely reliant on the likes of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum either, not was his defence manned solely by Virgil van Dijk. Various players have stepped up from time to time to take the Reds out of trouble and given hope to their supporters from across the world that there wasn’t any situation from where they could not find their way back to a positive result. Liverpool enjoy a slick passing game which is based on speed and this is something that has caught their opponents unawares in the Premier League this season. Their passing routine is possibly matched only by Manchester City, who too are renowned for lateral crossing skills and finding the right men with the right amount of weighted balls.
FANTASTIC TOP THREE
There is no denying that one of the founding pillars of Liverpool’s success is their brilliant top three- or the three players who line up in their attacking half: Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, each of whom play the role of left winger, centre forward and right winger respectively. They have been fantastic this season without exception. Each of them has risen to the occasion whenever Liverpool have been in trouble and never given the Anfield faithful any cause of concern. Fitness has not been too much of an issue either, with the possible exception of Firmino for some periods of time, and they have made their manager Klopp very proud.
Their leading goalscorer Salah, who has netted nineteen times in the 31 appearances he has made this season, is in a world of his own when with the ball. Even when he is without it, he can do wonders by creating space and making zig-zag runs which can leave opponent defenders baffled. The Egypt international, who arrived at Anfield from AS Roma, has been a revelation.
He also has nine assists to his name this season. Alongside him, left winger Mane too has been increasingly prolific. He has found the back of the net on sixteen occasions and has seven assists to his name in the 29 times he has stepped on to the pitch. The Senegalese international has a whopping 83 goals for Liverpool to his name and there is just no stopping him. Brazilian Firmino, who plays in the centre between Mane and Salah, has not been half as bad either, having scored on eight occasions for Liverpool.
Liverpool’s midfield is something that often goes under the radar whenever people talk about the club. However, the Reds have some brilliant midfielders in their ranks, who do not stand out alone but become the backbone of Klopp’s side when united. Leading them in midfield are captain Jordan Henderson and James Milner, who are both now senior statesmen at the club.
Also plying his trade alongside them is Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum, whose understated and subtle ways often make him go away from the spotlight, but whose contributions can never be discredited from this Liverpool side. Add to that new acquisitions Fabinho and Naby Keita along with the sheer pace and will of Englishman Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, formerly of Arsenal, and here we have a fully functional midfield unit. Be it in threading passes or finding the right amount of momentum or tracking back to protect their defenders, Liverpool’s midfielders have never let their club down.
When one talks of Liverpool’s defence, the name of Virgil van Dijk keeps propping up but it will be unfair to discredit the others who share the backline with him. Fullbacks Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold, who play on the left and right wing respectively, have made massive contributions to the club, as have van Dijk’s partners in central defence, be it Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez or Joel Matip. Goalkeepers Alisson Becker and Adrian go under the spotlight more often than not, but they too have played their roles significantly in being their side’s last line of defence. Alisson, for his part, has been brilliant with the ball in his hands, and seldom made errors which have led to goals. His tact and consideration when the ball needed to be delivered upfield has also been noteworthy.
Alexander Arnold has twelve assists to his name this season and Robertson has nine, which means that they are not just players who track back to protect the goal. Their contributions towards the attacking half of the Reds’ lineup should never go unnoticed as theirs is arguably the fastest and slickest fullback partnership in the Premier League.
Led by Dutch international van Dijk, Liverpool have only given away 27 goals in the Premier League this season, which is a stunning result.
They have also kept fifteen clean sheets, on par with Manchester City, with Sean Dyche’s Burnley only trailing them by a little. Not happy with just his defensive contributions, van Dijk also has four goals to his name, most of which have come from set-pieces. This just goes to show how well-developed and rounded this Liverpool side is.
Last, but definitely not the least, one of the main reasons for Liverpool’s success in the Premier League this season is their manager Jurgen Klopp’s contribution. Arriving at the Kop in 2015 after having guided German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund to two consecutive league titles and a DFB Pokal Cup, Klopp got to work quickly but it has taken some time for success to arrrive at his door. He now has a UEFA Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup title to go with the Premier League he won this season.
Although not having had any success in domestic English competitions such as the FA Cup or English League Cup (or Carabao Cup, as it is known now), Klopp will go down in history as being one of the best managers European football has seen. Known to be someone who is a good student of the game, Klopp is also an excellent man-manager. Very rarely is he seen ranting at press conferences and his players swear by the fact that the positivity, humour and jocular tone he uses on them infuses a lot of positivity. He is also a tactical genius, who believes widely in the fast-paced passing style of football and whose philiosophies have been widely accepted at Anfield.
Therefore, it has been a combination of all the reasons stated above which have helped the Reds dominate the Premier League this season.