Even the most ardent Southport FC fans can’t picture the Sandgrounders making it to the Premier League and upsetting the odds to beat the likes of Man City and Man United. But, that’s why the majority of supporters of non-league clubs have a second team – to live vicariously through them!
In Southport, the proximity to Liverpool means that a lot of people follow the Reds. Of course, Jurgen Klopp’s men had a rough go of things last season and are in somewhat of a predicament this time around. Can they turn things around and make the area proud once again? It’s doable if they cover these bases.
Some transfer news is obviously clickbait, such as the story Liverpool’s management has enquired about Kylian Mbappe’s availability. Anyway, the scousers aren’t lacking an attacking edge, although the front three did curiously fail to fire at times in 2020 and 2021. Klopp really requires midfield replacements to put his side’s path to glory back on track.
Gini Wijnaldum’s departure is a huge blow because he has the pressing qualities and technical ability to win the ball back high up the pitch and get it into the strikers’ feet. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be back, as will Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho is the general who marshals the troops. Still, links to Kingsley Coman and Saul Niguez are welcome to bolster the ranks.
With Virgil van Dijk back in the fold and plenty of options on the bench, including former Southport FC defender and loanee Ben Davies, Liverpool should be strong across the pitch if they spend wisely in the heart of the midfield.
What was impressive about Liverpool making the Champions League qualification places in May was how they battled through adversity. Unfortunately for the region, the club was plagued with injuries and only somehow sneaked into the top four. With the majority of these top-class players returning for the start of the campaign, the Premier League betting odds quote The Reds as 5/1 second-favourites for the title.
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) May 12, 2021
You can understand why when they performed admirably last year, and when you factor in the boost the likes of van Dijk and Joe Gomez will offer the squad. However, these two defenders and Joel Matip have been out for months and haven’t kicked a ball in anger. The Dutch captain opted to miss Euro 2020 to be fit for the first game against Norwich.
Regardless, another barren year will only manifest itself if these men end up crocked again for long periods. The same applies to Jordan Henderson, a guy whose energy is vital in central midfield.
African Cup of Nations
The ACoN is slated to be played throughout January and early February in 2022. This poses a considerable issue for Liverpool since many of the club’s stars play for African sides. For example, they will lose Mo Salah and Sadio Mane to the competition.
When this happens, Liverpool’s front line will be without a total of 33 goals and 12 assists, based on last season alone. Mane’s stats aren’t as eye-catching as usual because he underperformed for most of 2020/21. If both players get off to a scorching start, Liverpool may be without even more goals, assists, and chances created.
Diogo Jota has proven he can score, while Roberto Firmino brings plenty to the table, too. Whether they can carry the team on their backs during this period remains to be seen, though.
The 2019/20 champions can do it again; there’s no doubt about it. But they’ll have to do it the hard way if they don’t recruit well and manage the injury-hit squad.