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aldo's view I have one big concern for Liverpool heading into the new Premier League season


Liverpool’s celebrated attacking trio failed to fire at times last season (Michael Regan/PA)

Liverpool’s celebrated attacking trio failed to fire at times last season (Michael Regan/PA)

Liverpool’s celebrated attacking trio failed to fire at times last season (Michael Regan/PA)

LIVERPOOL are capable of reclaiming the Premier League title this season – but a huge question mark hovers over Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The return of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez from long-term injuries, along with the signing of Ibrahima Konate, should solidify the defensive line and erase one problem area in the team.

Still, I look at the other end of the field and question whether Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino can get their burners fired up once again.

When Liverpool collected 196 Premier League points over two seasons that ended with them winning the 2019 Champions League and the Premier League title a year later, those three were the key to the successes.

Salah was the leader of the trio. His goals and brilliance turned games in Liverpool’s favour, with Mane not far behind him.

Firmino was also crucial to the success of the attacking unit. While he has never been a prolific goalscorer, he was the glue that brought the trio together with his great link-up play.

Yet, the three heroes of the Liverpool success story under Klopp were all well below their best last season, and, frankly, I have big doubts over whether they will ever revive their golden days.

In Liverpool’s hour of need last season, when they lost game after game, Klopp needed his big players to step forward.

Yet, Salah, Mane and Firmino went missing – and now they have the task of trying to prove they have still got what it takes to be world beaters.

In fairness to Salah, he ended the season with 22 Premier League goals, which was an impressive total when you consider how far below his best he was for much of the campaign.

Mane got just 11 league goals, highlighting his worrying dip, while Firmino has been a scoring problem for Liverpool for too long now.

When the club were winning trophies, the Brazilian contributed immensely to the team’s success. But he has lost his way badly.

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Klopp is always quick to defend Firmino whenever he is questioned about him, but the No 9 needs to bounce back into form right away this season to justify his place in the team.

If Liverpool are to have any chance of getting in the mix for the title, they need Salah, Mane and Firmino to get back to their 2019 and 2020 form.

They also need contributions from Diogo Jota, and to find ways to unlock teams that will defend against them and try to pick them off on the break.

We saw so many games last season featuring a string of missed chances for Liverpool – with the opposition winning the match with their only effort on goal.

It’s hard to believe Liverpool lost six successive league games at Anfield last season. That shocking run happened because the strikers were not firing.

With the fans returning to Anfield, Salah, Mane and Firmino should be inspired to raise their game, but it’s hard to get magic back when you have lost it for an extended period of time.

Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United will win a lot of matches, with the improvements they are making to their squads ensuring that they will move up a couple of levels from last season.

City have signed Jack Grealish and want to add Harry Kane. How they can do that and not break financial fair play rules is a discussion for a future Sunday World column!

Chelsea are getting Romelu Lukaku and United have signed Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

They are all serious signings and, predictably, Liverpool have been more cautious in the transfer market and have spent their summer signing up current stars to new contracts.

It’s a reasonable policy, as a fully fit and firing Liverpool team have proved they are a match for any rival in Europe, but they have not been at their very best for a long time now.

In a season when I expect the title winners to need to collect at least 90 points, it means that you can only lose a maximum of two matches, and the levels needed to be champions will never have been higher.

All in all, I would expect the ‘big four’ to be too strong for the rest of the Premier League, as is usually the case. Any slip-ups against lower-placed sides will be fatal.

Liverpool lost against Aston Villa, Southampton, Burnley, Brighton and Fulham last season, with their third-place finish a miracle given the scale of their slump after Christmas.

They start this campaign with games against newly-promoted Norwich and Burnley, and I want to see the old Salah, Mane and Firmino return in those matches, with their pace, movement and goals too much for any defence to handle if they are on top form.

Yet, when was the last time we came away from a match and felt all three were performing at their best?

The attacking performance as Liverpool hammered Manchester United 4-2 at Old Trafford in May was close to what we know they can produce, but they need to perform like that every week.

Until we see evidence of Liverpool’s attacking stars getting back to their brilliant best, I doubt whether they can get back into a position to challenge for the title once again.

That’s why I would reluctantly pick City to win the title again, although I hope I am proved wrong.

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