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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 13 May 2021

This Liverpool side will be remembered as one of the Premier League greats

The Reds were confirmed as league champions for the first time since 1990 last night.

Liverpool players celebrate (file pic).
Liverpool players celebrate (file pic).
Image: Tim Goode

WHEN YOU CONSIDER the truly great Premier League teams, there are just a handful of sides that come to mind.

The two Man United teams that won the title combined with the Champions League in 1999 and 2008 are certainly deserving of a mention, and you could also make a case for the 1994 double winners.

The same goes for the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ team that won the league and famously went unbeaten for the entirety of the 2003-04 Premier League campaign. 

Jose Mourinho’s first Chelsea team that won back-to-back titles between 2004 and 2006 also come into the conversation, as do Pep Guardiola’s Man City, who prevailed in the past two seasons, breaking the record points tally along the way.

Yet this is a Liverpool outfit that deserves to be considered alongside the very best.

They reached 97 points last season, which would have been good enough to win the title in any year bar the previous two, while they have been even more impressive this time around, dropping points in just three of their 31 matches so far and losing only one.

They have already participated in two Champions League finals, winning one.

The question now is how great they can become.

Only three teams — Man United, Chelsea and Man City — have ever retained the Premier League title, and City are the only one of those three to have done so since 2010.

Liverpool have been by far and away the best team this season — the current gap of 23 points is a fair reflection of how superior they have been to the chasing pack — though even the most accomplished sides find it very difficult not to drop off after such a momentous success, as City discovered this time around.

A key point will be whether they can hold onto their big players — it’s hard to think of a starting XI in the world that Alisson, Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino would struggle to get into.

The Reds certainly are not short of cash — it emerged yesterday that they paid more than any other Premier League club on agent fees between February 2019 and January 2020, while they spent record-breaking fees on Alisson and Van Dijk.

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Nor does it seem conceivable that too many of the main stars will want to depart, given the obvious spirit and feel-good factor emanating from the club.

Mane, Salah and Firmino are all 28 now, yet showing no signs of slowing down . The magnificent front three have managed a total of 21 assists and 40 goals between them in the Premier League alone this season, with both Mane and Salah currently in contention for the Golden Boot.

It will also be interesting to see to what extent Jurgen Klopp feels the need to strengthen over the summer.

It’s very difficult to be critical of the Reds after a near-perfect season, but perhaps the one conspicuous flaw was shown in the Champions League knockout loss against Atletico Madrid and also last weekend in their encounter with Everton.

Teams who are well organised and defend deep are capable of frustrating Klopp’s men, and there are times when they look a little short of creativity in midfield, particularly on the rare occasions when Robertson and Alexander-Arnold — who have made 20 goals between them this season and are second and joint-fourth on the assists chart respectively – are successful combated.

The Anfield outfit have been heavily linked with Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara in recent weeks, with the midfielder currently stalling on signing a new contract, and certainly the Spanish international would seriously boost the Reds’ attacking ingenuity.

Yet even if they signed no one, it would be hard to bet against Liverpool retaining their title next year.

As well as boundless individual talent, Jurgen Klopp has built a formidable team, with their relentless pressing and work ethic virtually exhausting most opponents into submission.

The only question mark remaining as far as this season is concerned is whether they will surpass the Premier League record tally of 100 points set by City in the 2017-18 campaign.

They need just 15 of a possible 21 points from their final seven games to achieve this feat and should they manage to do so, it would be another step towards consolidating greatness.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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