Pre-Season Predictions For Arne Slot’s Liverpool

Gareth Southgate will have been genuinely delighted that all five of his penalty takers put the ball in the back of the night on Saturday evening. Any suggestion that the England manager actively wanted them to fail is, in my opinion, wide of the mark. That being said, I do think that the order that he picked the takers in, as well as some other factors, might well have been very intentional. There is little doubt in my mind that the way the former Middlesbrough player and manager has used Trent Alexander-Arnold has been little short of scandalous. I wrote a fortnight ago about how he seemed to be trying to use him as a scapegoat for England’s failings and I think that has only grown in the time since. By putting Alexander-Arnold on the final penalty, Southgate knew that, if he missed, the media and England’s supporters would happily turn on the Scouser. A Liverpool player and a black man? The Daily Mail journalists must have been licking their lips in anticipation of what they could write. They still managed to take a shot in spite of him scoring.

There is perhaps no better example of LIVERPOOL=BAD than the way that Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and, to a lesser extent, Anthony Gordon have been treated during the Euros. Southgate, for reasons known only to himself, decided to take just one, unfit left-back to Germany for the international tournament. With that in mind, the inclusion of Gomez after he played the majority of last season in the position for Liverpool made sense. Except he has not turned to Gomez to play left-back at any point, instead asking an out of form Kieran Trippier to do it in spite of the fact that he has been poor all summer. When Trippier was struggling, he put Bukayo Saka there instead. Kyle Walker has been largely at fault for the majority of goals that England have conceded, but rather than giving Trent a go we’ve just seen Walker again and again. England’s attack has been crying out for a left-winger to take on the opposition defence, but Scouser Gordon remains resolutely on the bench. It feels as though Southgate will only turn to a Scouser if he thinks he might need someone to pin the blame on.

Could We Win One of the Big Ones?

The most obvious question that Liverpool fans will be asking themselves this summer is whether or not the Reds will have what it takes to win the Premier League or the Champions League. They are the two biggest trophies in club football and Liverpool have won one of them more than any other English side and aren’t far behind doing the same in the other. They are the pieces of silverware that we crave more than any other, so it’s not all that surprising that supporters would love to add another one of either or both of them to the trophy cabinet. When it comes to the Premier League, there are lots of variables that we don’t yet have any real answers to. I am intentionally writing this before we’ve seen Arne Slot’s side kick a ball, because I think it’s important to set out your realistic expectations before you have any distracting information to push you one way or another. Can Manchester City go again, having done the unprecedented in May by winning their fourth in a row? How will Arsenal cope with coming close but missing out twice?

How Slot adapts to the rigours of the Premier League will be fascinating to see, but I think it’s probably fair to give him this season to work out what it’s like to come up against the likes of Sean Dyche in football games. Although the Dutchman doesn’t have a huge amount of experience in the Champions League, he did take Feyenoord to the final of the Europa Conference League, so he does have some pedigree in Europe. In some ways, this year might be his best chance to have a crack at ol’ Big Ears considering the manner in which the competition has been re-structured. Whilst the man himself is likely to struggle with the dual demands of the English top-flight and the elite European competition, most other managers will also struggle trying to work out how to handle the changes to it. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be entirely unheard of for Liverpool to go further in the tournament that many might think right now. That doesn’t mean that they’re nailed on to win it, but I would expect the Reds to be looking at a quarter-final or semi-final stage exit.

Premier League: 2nd

Champions League: Quater-Final Exit

Could a Domestic Cup be on the Cards?

Whilst Liverpool’s chance for either of the big trophies is an outside one at best, the same may not be true of the domestic cups. We have seen before that new managers have arrived in England and looked to target the League Cup, for example, because they know that it is a relatively easy route to silverware. Jürgen Klopp won the trophy twice whilst Liverpool manager, making it to the final on a third occasion but missing out. That was in his first season at Anfield, having taken over from Brendan Rodgers in the October. He didn’t have a pre-season, he hadn’t had time to work with his players much, yet he took us all the way to the final at Wembley. There is certainly a world in which I can see Arne Slot doing exactly the same thing, up to and including losing to Manchester City in the final. I am quite sure that the Dutchman is going to want to use the domestic cups to get to know his squad a bit better and the players are likely to want to impress him, so those two things combined, as well as the fact that our squad is actually quite strong, point to a win.

I am not quite so sure that things will work out like that in the FA Cup. In the League Cup, a draw against a domestic team will often see both sides using squad players, so it’s then a matter of which side has the better lads. In the FA Cup, though, teams will often go quite strong when drawn against fellow top-flight sides, which is what made our win over Arsenal in the competition last season all the more impressive. Slot will be keen to look at his squad, but ultimately the chance of him winning all four trophies in his first season is obviously miniscule. As a result, he is going to have to figure out how he wants to spread his butter and I’m not sure that the FA Cup is going to take much of a priority for him. That, of course, could change if we get a friendly draw and things don’t work out as I believe they might in other competitions. If we fall off in the Premier League quite quickly, for example, or don’t make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League then the FA Cup may well present Slot with a route to silverware that will keep the supporters on board.

FA Cup: 4th Round Exit

League Cup: Finalists

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