By 90Min
August 08, 2017

Anything can happen. It's what makes sport (and especially football) so special, what makes your heart race in exhilaration or drop in desperation, the emotional investment of supporting your team can either make or break your week. 

It's a feeling that those who say 'it's just a game' do not understand. The euphoria of victory and the misery of defeat lends itself to the very definition of supporting your team. 

This is why, come the opening weekend, fans up and down the country will be filled with renewed confidence and optimism of where the season may take them. 

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It's a fan's right to dream of what could be, no matter how impossible it may seem - just look at Leicester if you're in any doubt - and for Liverpool, it could very well be a season which ends 27 years without a league title. 

An unrealistic dream, or outrageous claim? Perhaps. But with a handful of new additions to the squad, Jurgen Klopp in charge, and the Anfield faithful behind them, the Reds have every reason to stake their claim for the Premier League title. 

It won't prove easy, as the competition at the top of the table will be fiercer than ever before, with rivals strengthening through the transfer window and set to build upon performances from last season.

If Liverpool are to truly contend for the title this season then they need to rid themselves of the 'nearly men' tag which has plagued them for a number of campaigns. As they've failed at the final hurdle too many times, and now it's their time to make serious statements as to their winning ability.

The first-half of last season saw the Reds attempt to do as much as they were arguably in title winning form - securing 42 points from 54, and scoring four or more goals in six of the first 18 games - as they showcased an almost perfect fluid counter-pressing style.

However the inevitable happened, as injuries, lack of consistency and momentum ultimately derailed Liverpool at the turn of the new year as they finished the season in fourth place - ultimately securing their sought after Champions League qualification spot.

Despite their drop-off in form when it mattered most, the season was a revelation for Liverpool as the inability to beat bottom of the league opposition who sat deep in defence and waited to counter-attack was brought to the fore.

It's not to say this season will follow the same trend as the last, but after holding no qualms over facing opposition from the top six, it's this experience against the 'lower' sides that must set the Reds up for the 2017/18 season. 

After already ridding the Reds of several past demons, Klopp is more than capable of doing the same for Liverpool's plight against those who 'park the bus', as finding a way to breakthrough such tactics or to simply win ugly will ensure they have every reason to be considered title contenders.

The key to combat this issue however has not entirely gone to plan as of yet, as despite Klopp stating at the end of last season that he hoped the club's transfers were completed promptly, Liverpool remain without a number of key pieces to complete their jigsaw ahead of the new season.

It certainly will not have been Klopp's intentions to be in this position so close to the opening weekend, as there has been only one significant addition to the first team - Mohamed Salah - as well as Andy Robertson and Dominic Solanke - all of which have impressed in pre-season.

However, the Neymar saga has now brought Philippe Coutinho's future at Anfield into question as Barcelona are now lurking around the corner to steal Liverpool's star man. The Reds cannot afford to lose the Brazilian at any price so close to the start of the season, as his role in the team is simply priceless.

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With ambitions to hit the ultimate high next season, Liverpool cannot revert to the ways of the past by selling their best players and as such Coutinho must not be allowed to leave Anfield this summer, if the club are to keep fans onside whilst Klopp continues to build a squad which is capable of securing their first piece of silverware in six-years.

However, so far the club have struggled to land their first choice targets as they have sought out players whose clubs are not willing to let them go easily, as up to this point the Reds have had foiled attempts to sign both Southampton's Virgil van Dijk and RB Leipzig's Naby Keita. 

Landing either target, let alone both, would be a signal of intent from Liverpool as either player would elevate the Merseysiders squad significantly. 

However, with 140 goals conceded in their last three league seasons combined, the addition of Van Dijk can be argued to be the most important to get over the line.

Being dominant in the air and confident on the ball makes Van Dijk the type of centre-back Liverpool have been crying out for. His composure and leadership would go along way in rectifying the Reds longstanding defensive woes, and they've been handed a boost in their quest for the Dutch defender as he has now handed in a transfer request at Southampton.

It doesn't by any means ensure a deal will be completed between the two clubs. However, with Klopp's attacking force already showing signs of intuitive link-up play, fluid movement and a clinical edge, the single addition of Van Dijk into the fold could elevate Liverpool from a top four side to a title challenging force.

It seems as though it may be an excruciating wait for the Anfield faithful up until the end of the transfer window, as the question now hanging over Liverpool's head as to their title credentials firmly rests on their ability to keep hold of Coutinho, and acquire the high quality players needed to add depth into a squad which is an injury or two away from disaster.

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