Liverpool making the right noises – Thanks to the Africans
The English Premier League is back with a bang, and some teams have already started looking promising. Manchester City shuttered Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in Matchday 1 and thrashed Huddersfield in a 6-1 win at home the following week. These results are not surprising at all considering how the Cityzens ended their season last year with a record-breaking 100 points after 38 games. Liverpool however went all out in the transfer market to beef up their squad after their bitter loss at the hands of Real Madrid in UEFA Champions League final a couple of months ago. Since then, there has been talk about them being ready to mount a title challenge in the league this year. Rightly so because they have already picked up wins in the first two matches they played against West Ham United and Crystal Palace. One thing that has been quite interesting though is their core of players who are of African heritage. Let’s look at what these players bring to the table.
Naby Keïta is the latest addition to the Merseyside team after he joined the club in a $67.6 million deal from RB Leipzig. We wrote earlier, about how the 23-year-old midfielder from Guinea was the missing piece of the spine of the Liverpool after they sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona in January 2017. We are starting to see the signs of a midfield general that dictates play when in possession and is not afraid to instigate the press whenever the team loses the ball. Keïta looks ready to emulate Steven Gerrard’s role in the team where the Englishman was the pinnacle of all the attacks in the team. Keita looks to have the engine to bomb up and down the pitch which has become one of the most significant assets of modern midfield players. Think of the likes of N’golo Kante.
Mo Salah. Not much needs to be said about him other than that he looks as sharp as ever. The Egyptian forward will bring the goals to Liverpool. That is certain after watching him bossing the best of defenders last season and scoring a record 31 goals in his first season in Liverpool. Although he could have a tough time this round now that the players know him and how he plays, still he poses a threat to any team with his blistering pace. Liverpool will be looking to pick another 3 points this weekend against Brighton, a match that will be aired at 12.30pm, Washington DC time, and you can bet on the African superstar to score.
Next up, there is the new Number 10, Sadio Mane from Senegal. The forward did not have the greatest time at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia tournament because his team was knocked out in the group stages but only just. He has since returned to the club that pays his bills, and he has been showing the hunger that Jurgen Klopp wants to see in all his players. His persistence can be seen in Liverpool’s most recent game, against Palace when he burst forward and kept going especially after some contact from Van Aanholt. He set his mind on the goal, and he saw to it when he rounded past the Palace keeper to score Liverpool’s second of the night. Mane’s creativity will be of great importance throughout the season and it is an added bonus for the club that he will not be leaving for the AFCON tournament in January like before because the tournament has been moved to September 2019. (Be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter where we keep you up to date with the build up to this tournament)
In essence, these three players will be crucial to Liverpool’s fortunes if they remain fit because they have the quality and are delivering at the highest level. They are setting the bar high for other African players who wish to play in the best soccer leagues in the world. Do not be surprised if Liverpool wins it this year because their core of players is hungry and is willing to work tirelessly for that silverware that has eluded them for over two decades now.