Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

English Premier League: Things to watch in Liverpool’s 2018-19 season

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates with Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita after scoring their third goal against West Ham. Reuters Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates with Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita after scoring their third goal against West Ham. Reuters
Ivan Hill | 12 August, 2018, 22:04

The Argentine lined his men up in a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation, but struggled against a pressing opposition spearheaded by the deadly trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

It will have been 29 years since the Reds were last crowned England's top team by the end of the season, but Jurgen Klopp's side will fancy their chances of going until the very end with the reigning champions City.

West Ham for sure will play a good season but they are not United or City, that's how it is.

"We played as good as possible today and we extended a really good pre-season into the Premier League", Klopp told the BBC. "It's brilliant. Sturridge had a fantastic pre-season, the best since I've been here, and it gives us unbelievable new options".

Klopp has tried to keep a lid on expectations given the gap to City last season despite spending a reported £170 million. "We are the ones who have to do more and fight more - that must be our attitude". "He has settled really quick", added Klopp, highlighting the similarity with Leipzig's style of play, but also crediting Keita's new teammates such as Mane. "We know that and we have to be ready week-in, week-out for all the challenges".

"Last year was a long season and with the World Cup boys coming back in with such a short rest, they have done well".

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But it was two of the Reds' established heroes who sealed the three points, Salah prodding home Andy Robertson's 19th-minute cross before Mane netted twice from inside the box either side of half-time.

Trent Alexander-Arnold almost doubled the lead five minutes later but West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski pushed his free kick away from the near post.

Fabianski was by far the busier 'keeper with Alisson making just one comfortable save and impressing far more with his feet to launch a series of Liverpool attacks.

The Reds did manage to double their lead on the stroke of halftime as James Milner did well to pick out Mane, who made no mistake from close range.

West Ham will continue their search for their first win of the season at the London Stadium against Bournemouth on Saturday.

"Normally when you bring in so many players you need a period of adjustment, but football does not allow you to have that period" started the new Irons boss. Manuel Pellegrini could not have asked for a more hard opening game as he took charge of the London side in his first game as their manager. It was a fresh start from the first minute, everything looked like it should have been.

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