IT seems the rest of the Premier League are already looking to next season where winning the competition is concerned.
Liverpool are steaming ahead of the rest, with a points lead they have no intention of letting up on. Supporters are rightly remaining tight lipped about the prospects of seeing our first title in 30 years, as are the manager and players.
Yet Pep Guardiola is already making noises about preparing now for next season. The Spaniard will be damaged by just how much ground his team has lost on The Reds, especially if this type of gap is maintained until May.
While Guardiola and City will undoubtedly be looking at recruitment in the summer months as a means to return to the summit in 2020-21, there is another way they will try to mimic Jürgen Klopp’s men, and we could be seeing it happen already.
It has been widely noted this week how Liverpool’s points tally of 104 points in the last 38 games is an astoundingly impressive feat. It is, and deserves at least one league title as a reward for what this manager and group of players have done.
Indeed, it can be argued that Liverpool began to gain momentum for this season’s record-breaking start at the back end of the last campaign. Of course, they had a league title battle which went down to the last day, but they were determined, hungry and carried it into August and beyond.
Given how City have started the New Year, they may well be adopting a similar approach in an attempt to regain the crown which is slipping away from them with each passing week.
If Liverpool are successful in their league quest this season, they will have to show they can retain the type of hunger City didn’t last summer in order to maintain the phenomenal standards they’ve set.
To do that, Klopp and his team will also have to be near perfect with any changes he decides to make to his squad this summer.
He faces some tough calls, with the need for strength in key areas to be addressed, as well as having to deal with the Africa Cup of Nations being moved back to January and February time – meaning the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita could all be missing for up to two months of next season.
One pressing issue for Klopp could be the reliability, or lack thereof, from some of his squad members when called on. While he has maintained the core of his first team’s fitness throughout the campaign, the likes of Dejan Lovren, Xherdan Shaqiri and Keita have all been missing with niggling injuries at key times.
This is not exclusive to this season alone, and although some are now championing the idea of retaining Adam Lallana, for example, it is easy to forget how little the 31-year-old has played in the past two years.
Those players, with the exception of Keita – who remains more of a long-term project – may also feel in order to avoid niggling setbacks they have to be playing more regularly.
You feel Klopp would not stand in the way, as it could help him drive down the average age of the squad and could provide further opportunities for the likes of Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones, in addition to any incomings.
Liverpool have been experts in remaining ahead of the curve in recent times. Whether that’s through scouting and analytics in signing players, or choosing the right time to let certain ones leave.
Whatever the German decides, he will need to keep the fire roaring into next season while keeping his eyes firmly fixed on what is at stake now.
We might not want to look too far ahead when thinking of Liverpool, but make no mistake Jürgen Klopp and the club are doing just that.
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) January 15, 2020