An impressive close season in the transfer market, with Brazil internationals Alisson and Fabinho arriving alongside Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri, has added quality and depth to Klopp’s squad in key positions.
We will have a much clearer indication of whether all that is about to change after the Reds negotiate a daunting run of fixtures at home and abroad between the September and October international breaks.
September 15 – Tottenham (A)
Despite a considerably quieter close-season on the transfer front, Spurs served notice of their own title ambitions with an emphatic 3-0 win at Manchester United at the end of last month. Like Klopp’s Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham are a side carrying out their coach’s defined blueprint to the letter and normally to fine effect. A 2-1 defeat at Watford last time out knocked them off their stride but Liverpool must be wary of a backlash, especially given they were savaged 4-1 at Wembley last October.
September 18 – Paris Saint-Germain (H)
“Allez, allez, allez” is sure to ring around Anfield once again on the launch of their latest European campaign and their opponents from the French capital will certainly need no translation. In Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, PSG have the most formidable attack in Europe on paper. Those plans are now sketched out by Thomas Tuchel, who impressed as a successor to Klopp at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund. An intriguing tactical battle between the dugouts is in prospect and Liverpool will learn how their newfound defensive solidity holds up under heavy fire.
September 29 – Chelsea (A)
The PSG game is followed by a trip to Southampton and an EFL Cup rehearsal at Anfield for this Stamford Bridge clash. Like Liverpool, Chelsea boast a perfect record of four wins from their opening Premier League fixtures. There are still plenty of rough edges to the Blues under Maurizio Sarri, but the Italian’s high-pressing and high-tempo style should mesh pleasingly with the Reds’ approach. Klopp would be right to bank on a team further down the road than Sarri’s Chelsea in terms of development being able to impose themselves decisively on the match, with disrupting midfield kingpin Jorginho probably the key.
October 3 – Napoli (A)
Napoli are in the early stages of a transition away from “Sarriball” under the esteemed Carlo Ancelotti. The early results have been mixed – conceding first in three Serie A games to date is far from ideal. However, Napoli won two of those against Lazio and AC Milan, demonstrating both the attacking firepower and resilience that helped them to go blow-for-blow with Juventus in the title race last season. Attacking talisman Dries Mertens is yet to return to a potent starting line-up following his World Cup exertions with Belgium and Liverpool will undoubtedly have their hands full in the cauldron-like atmosphere of the Stadio San Paolo.
October 7 – Manchester City (H)
Liverpool were the only side to decisively get the better of runaway Premier League champions City last season, winning three of the four encounters in all competitions. An eventual deficit of 25 points in the top-flight last season showed the gap still to bridged and City have an seemingly smoother run of fixtures during the forthcoming busy period. The always highly motivated Pep Guardiola will return to Merseyside with renewed determination to disprove the notion old Bundesliga sparring partner Klopp has his number.