15/10/2021

Liverpool handed early Manchester United and Chelsea advantage in the Premier League title race

The excitement of a new Premier League season is in full flow and with Liverpool travelling to Carrow Road for their opener against Norwich City on Saturday, the Reds have a rare opportunity to ensure their rivals are left playing catch-up. Manchester United, Man City and Chelsea are expected to be the trio challenging Jürgen Klopp’s side, and all are at an early disadvantage.

Klopp’s team have enjoyed had a hassle-free pre-season. The Reds have welcomed injured players back to the squad, while new signing Ibrahima Konaté has had valuable time to settle and get to know his new teammates.

This cannot be said for Liverpool’s rivals; Manchester City and Manchester United have both endured disrupted pre-season plans with new summer signings not yet ready to be used by their respective clubs.

Of course, Liverpool’s title rivals have strengthened their squads, hence why the Reds have often been overlooked by pundits when predicting the outcome of the Premier League title race.

Klopp’s only signing of the summer so far, Konaté, was brought in early from RB Leipzig and has taken part in a full pre-season in Austria and France before playing in front of 40,000 fans at Anfield on Monday.

Signing players early is what all managers would prefer as it gives squads time to gel and plans can be implemented for the coming season. However, Man United, Chelsea and possibly Man City have not had this luxury.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side have been the biggest spenders in the Premier League so far this summer with the signings of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund and Raphaël Varane from Real Madrid. These are impressive captures for United and will no doubt improve the squad, but the new additions have yet had the chance to fully settle in Manchester.

Former Man City man Sancho has only just completed his first training session with the club, after being granted an extended break due to England’s progression to the final of the Euros. Varane, meanwhile, is still yet to be presented at Old Trafford.

Players with the quality of Sancho and Varane will be expected to be able to adapt quickly, but playing in the Premier League is like no other. Even players with those levels of talent can take time to get up to speed.

Chelsea’s mission in bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge is almost accomplished, with the Champions League winners agreeing to a fee of £97 million with Inter Milan for the striker.

Lukaku will be a great addition to Thomas Tuchel’s squad, but like Sancho and Varane, the striker will be playing catch up in terms of match fitness and getting to grips with the way Tuchel sets up his side. He at least has Premier League experience on his side, but will still need time to get up and running.

Chelsea travel to Anfield on matchday three and it remains questionable whether the Belgian will be taking any part — a huge opportunity for Liverpool to open up an early gap on their title rivals.

Lastly, Pep Guardiola’s Man City have secured the services of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100 million. The England man made his debut for last season’s title winners in Saturday’s Community Shield loss to Leicester City. The most settled of the names mentioned, he still has a steep learning curve ahead.

Another man heavily linked to a move to the Etihad Stadium is Tottenham talisman Harry Kane.

This potential transfer was always going to run long into the window, with Tottenham determined to keep their star man after rejecting a £100 million bid from City earlier in the window.

Daniel Levy will do everything in his power to keep Kane but there’s only so much a club can do if the player is determined to force the move.

If City offers £150 million you feel that could secure their main target.

Kane at City would swing the title race heavily in their favour, but the England captain hasn’t had much of a pre-season and would need to regain his match sharpness if he were to arrive in Manchester.

With favourable early fixtures and a settled squad, Liverpool will be confident they take an early lead in what is sure to be an exhilarating title race.