Biggest need: Replacing, or supporting, MOHAMED Salah and SADIO Mane
In terms of their best starting XIs, there’s little to choose between Liverpool and Manchester City. For the past four seasons, the two teams have raised the bar with their consistency. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool continue to be the side most likely to beat City over the course of 90 minutes, but they are also a team in need of evolution before their star players become too old as a group.
Resolving the future of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, whose contracts both expire in June 2023, is a huge issue Liverpool must address over the coming months. If they lose either player this summer, it will be a major blow to the club’s ambitions. Beyond keeping their best players, Liverpool also need to look to the future and find a way to support, and eventually replace, those players who have served them so well.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara are both in their 30s and beginning to miss an increasing number of games due to injury.
At the back, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have yet to come close to their best form since suffering long-term knee injuries last season.
Where Manchester City have a proven replacement for all of their players (with the possible exception of goalkeeper Ederson), Liverpool still have too great a drop between the quality of their first-choice and the back-up players behind them.
Resolving that will be crucial for Liverpool’s title hopes. Otherwise, they’ll be expecting too much of the likes of Salah, Mane, Van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to avoid injury or loss of form for an entire season.
Chances of catching City (1=not likely, 10=guaranteed): 7 — This Liverpool team is still the best of the rest and, if the top players stay fit, can still pose a serious threat to City next season. But question marks remain over the depth.