Are LFC really favourites for the title next season?

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Following on from a discussion between Kal El and Case earlier, I thought I’d take a look at whether we really are favourites for the title next season. The bookmakers will no doubt have City as slight favourites but in my opinion we’re the stand out candidates for next year’s title and here’s why.

Unity 

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I’ve never seen a team so united as our current crop of players. With every interview the players give, you can genuinely see how happy they are as a team and with the club in general and why wouldn’t they be? Klopp has clearly created a brilliant working environment and now he’s added silverware to it. For the first time in god knows how many years, there are no real serious transfer rumours linking any of our star players with a move away.

Meanwhile, down the road at the Etihad, City have just lost their leader and talismanic captain, Vincent Kompany, whose absence is likely to be keenly felt both on and off the pitch, as he has been the standard bearer at City for a decade. Add to that the fact it looks like Leroy Sane is keen on a move to Bayern and you possibly have the difference right there between us finishing a point behind or a point ahead.

Experience 

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When Klopp took over at the club, he spoke of how the team would grow and mature together, picking up experience as a group along the way. Last season was really where we started to see that come to fruition. We were like a different team last season, compared to the gunslingers we’d been in recent years. Suddenly we’d added game management to our arsenal and at no time was that more prevalent than the Champions League final, where we scored an early goal and effectively just saw the game out from there, limiting Spurs to half chances. We’d have never managed that even 12 months ago.

We know now what it takes to keep pace with this City team in the league. Much like in this season’s Champions League, if we just make minor improvements to last season with what we’ve learned, it should just about be enough I think.

Hunger 

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Everyone at the club, from the players to John Henry, spoke of the burning desire to get back to the Champions League final after the disappointment of last year. Going on to win it, will give these players the hunger for more trophies and everyone knows what one we want.

City have upped the bar on winning the league in the last two seasons. Finishing on 100 and 98 points respectively was some achievement from them but can they really do it again for a third year? Will the hunger and desire still be there given all the success they’ve had over the last couple of seasons? Maybe it will but you can be sure that their players won’t be any hungrier than ours for that title and as this season’s Champions League shows, this team learns from its mistakes and comes back stronger.

Potential 

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For all the brilliance in this current City team and nobody can argue they are brilliant... but... can they get any better? I don’t think they can, I think with the exception of the odd player here or there such as Jesus or Foden, I believe all they’re players are already at their lofty ceiling. Does anyone really think we are though? I certainly don’t.

We saw a number of players take their game to a new level last season. Trent has developed into arguably the world’s finest right back and at a mere 20 years old, he’s only going to improve. Matip became almost a mirror image of Van Dijk, such was his consistency and quality of his play in the second half of the season. Mane is another who went up a level last season. The second half of the season, he was probably the form player in Europe and if he maintains that form moving forward, he’s arguably the world’s finest wide player.

Add to that Fabinho who’s improving all the time but has nowhere near reached his ceiling yet, same goes for Keita and Gomez. Even our big players like Bobby and Salah - Bobby’s finishing has room for improvement and Salah’s all round game could become far more polished. Origi, Shaqiri, Ox... They all have room to improve and this manager has shown that he does improve almost every player he works with. The future of this team is very bright.

The answer 

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In answer to the question then, of whether we’re favourites for next season’s title or not, I think we surely are. I’ve already discussed Kompany and Sane but Fernandinho and Aguero are also another year older. They can’t keep operating on the level they have been forever, whether that be through form or fitness.

Add to that, City’s current FFP debacle. There is a great deal of uncertainty about what is going to happen to them which may have a direct impact on their signings this year. Pep Guardiola seemed to be getting rattled by it towards the tail end of last season, with a few quite tense interviews and whenever the subject was brought up. All is not completely well at the Etihad.

Don’t get me wrong, I still fully expect City to be a force to be reckoned with but we’re talking the finest of margins making the difference. We finished a single point behind them last season, could all the points I’ve mentioned above be enough to swing the balance in our favour? I think they just about do. At the end of the day, I expect us to be marginally better next season, through new signings, players returning from injury and another year’s experience under our belt, for what is still a young squad. City however I expect to be marginally worse for the reasons stated on the article and to that end, I genuinely make us favourites.

What do we think then troops.

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