Areas where Liverpool must improve to overcome City challenge next season

Liverpool may have fallen short in their quest for the Premier League glory, but it has been their best season in this era and one that could still end in glory on June 1st. The Reds face Premier League rivals Tottenham in the final of this year’s champions league at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium on the first Saturday of next month.

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A win over the North London side will definitely be a good reward for the Kop especially with the season they have had and also the heartbreak of last season where they lost in the final to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

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In the 27 years of premier league history, Liverpool’s tally of 97 points would have won the league in all but two seasons of the competition and the only team that would’ve prevented the Reds from winning the league on this two occasions his Manchester City.

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The Citizens have won the League for the second consecutive season now and they have done it with an incredible points tally. Over the last two seasons, the Four-time Premier League champions have garnered an incredible 198 points.

In Pep’s first title-winning season, Man City broke the 100 points barrier eclipsing Chelsea’s previous record of 95 points that was set in the 2004-2005 season. The Citizens backed up the feat this season though they didn’t get to 100 points, they still end up with 98 points.

However, they were run close this time around by Klopp’s men this time around who finished just a point behind the champions. But despite Klopp’s men brilliance this season, it wasn’t still enough to land the holy grail and that’s down to a common denominator which is Pep Guardiola.

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So what do the Reds need to do to beat Manchester City to the League title?

Sign a Creative/Attacking Midfielder: Ever since Philippe Coutinho departed Anfield for Camp Nou, the Reds have struggled to replace his creativity. In fact, that has affected the way Reds set up away from home against top oppositions.

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In the Champions League games the and the only league game the Reds lost this season, Jurgen Klopp decided to go conservative by fielding a midfield trio of Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson and James Milner. This trio are not known for their creativity but for their graft and pressing. This is one of the reasons why Liverpool lost the title decider in the game against Manchester City at the Etihad as there was no creativity in the middle of the park.

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The midfield quartet of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum have just nine assists between them in the Premier League this season and that’s less than Liverpool’s full-backs. Both Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson had 23 assists between them in the league alone this season. The Reds cannot continue to rely on their full-backs every time to provide the final ball for their forwards if they are to beat City to the title next season.

They will need to invest in someone who can take the burden off their full-backs. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a like for like replacement for Coutinho but someone who has the eye for a pass.

The Reds were linked with Lyon captain last season Nabil Fekir but pulled out at the last minute, so could go for him again this season while Ajax and Morocco star Hakim Ziyech is another player that can also solve the Reds midfield conundrum.

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Invest in Squad depth: If the Reds are to win the league next season, then they will need to invest big in their squad. One of the reasons why City were able to win the league easily is that they had the luxury of tweaking their line ups every week.

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For a De Bruyne there’s an Ilkay Gundoguan while for a Bernardo Silva there’s a David Silva or Leroy Sane. For a Sergio Aguero, there’s Gabriel Jesus. This is a luxury the Reds don’t have. Should one of their famous trio get injured, the Reds will find it difficult to replace them with like for like players.

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No disrespect to Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi who has saved the club on a couple of occasions, but they are not the players that can come in and change the course of a game. The Reds will also need to bring in backups for their full backs.

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Should one of Alexander Arnold or Andy Robertson get injured, the Reds will have to play an unorthodox replacement and this is not acceptable, especially when you are competing against a side like Manchester City.

Consistency: Although it’s harsh to say a team that won 30 games out of 38 games hasn’t been consistent,  The Reds lost the league to Man City not because they suffered defeat against their rivals, but because of the seven draws they had. At a point, the Reds had the chance to go eight points clear of Man City who had lost a day earlier to Newcastle. However, they could only manage a 1-1 home draw against Leicester City.

The Reds will need to learn how to convert these draws to win especially when presented with a big opportunity.  One major trait of title-winning sides is that they are always ruthless and they are always ready to pounce when their rivals slip up.  The Reds know the nature of the team they are competing against and would have definitely won the league if they had won at least two of the seven draws they had this season.

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When Mourinho’s Madrid beat Pep Guardiola’s almighty Barcelona team to the La Liga title in 2011/2012, they had to stay consistent all through the season knowing Pep’s team are on their tails. The Los Blancos finished with a record 100 points that year nine points ahead of Barcelona losing just twice and drawing four games all season.

This season’s Premier League race has similarities with that of La Liga 2011/2012 and there’s just one common denominator which is Pep Guardiola. Guardiola’s team are known for staying at the top level all season and the Reds will need to match City’s consistency also if they are to win the league next season.

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Real Madrid title-winning squad of 2011/2012

City lost four games this season and this is the most championship winning sides lose in a season. So the Reds still have themselves to blame for losing the league title despite losing one game all season.

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