Liverpool Season Preview | Premier League Betting Analysis
Apinya Rittipo/Getty. Pictured: Virgil van Dijk and Cody Gakpo.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Here, we look at Liverpool ahead of a key season in which they need a rebound.
Premier League Season Preview – Liverpool
Liverpool are in the middle of a full squad turnover, and the Reds have all of the pieces to be the most dynamic attack in the entire league. They may not have the 30+ goal per year player like Manchester City with Erling Haaland, but Jurgen Klopp has a ton of attacking options and versatility at his disposal. The Reds still feature Mo Salah on the right wing, who posted excellent 0.80 xG + xA per 9o numbers last year, and even that was a small decline for him. Salah had 19 goals and 12 assists and while he'll probably never reach his peak production from the year prior again in his career, he is still one of the best forwards in the Premier League.
Darwin Nunez had some real problems with finishing in his first Premier League season, but the talent and the athleticism can't be denied. He was an absolute shot monster at Liverpool and saw almost no drop off in his underlying numbers moving from Benfica to Liverpool. Given the quality of competition jump, that's quite remarkable. Nunez averaged 1.09 xG + xA per 90 his final year at Benfica. At Liverpool, he had superstar level numbers with 0.93 xG + xA per 90.
Only Haaland and Callum Wilson topped those numbers last season in the PL. The Reds will get a full season of Cody Gakpo, a fit season from Luis Diaz on the left wing and more from Diogo Jota in the middle. They are right next to City in my projected xGF per match numbers.
Liverpool's biggest problem came in defensive midfield and the loss of Fabinho isn't as impactful as the media is suggesting. Fabinho's decline came quick last season and his minutes weren't offering much cover for the back four last season. Liverpool's midfield in 2023-24 should be much younger, more athletic and cover more space.
There's still not a lot of ball winning and the result will be a leaky transition defense, but the Reds have plenty of power in the engine room by adding Brighton's best player, Alexis Mac Allister. There's some real early Klopp Liverpool vibes with this team. It was a time when Sadio Mané, Salah and Roberto Firmino were an elite goal scoring trio and the defense hadn't quite come along yet.
The Reds played a ton of wide open contests and while they dropped too many points because of the leaky defense, Liverpool were still a clear top four team. I feel similarly about this team, who cannot possibly be as bad on set pieces as they were last season. The Reds have positive regression coming in set piece defense and while the transitions still will be a problem, they'll get more pressing efficiency from the front if Jota, Nunez and Diaz play more minutes and Mac Allister and Curtis Jones start as the free 8s.
Even though the betting odds see Arsenal as the second favorite to win the league, I'm of the belief that while Arsenal have the higher floor, Liverpool's vastly superior attacking output makes them the team with the higher ceiling to reach City's level for the league title race. Liverpool have been there more recently – the 2021-22 season won't be replicated — and the Reds can still address the defensive midfielder issue between now and the closing of the transfer window.
Arsenal finish above Liverpool more often than not in my view, but the Reds have the much wider distribution of outcomes. From February on, Liverpool played at a +0.99 xG difference per 90 minutes despite dealing with some midfield and defensive injuries.
The Reds start from a higher baseline than Manchester United and with all of the pieces likely healthier, they should be favored to finish higher once again.
Pick: Liverpool to finish higher than Manchester United -120 via bet365), Liverpool to win the league (+800 via bet365)