Liverpool shouldn’t pretend to be something that they’re not and must use their deadliest weapon of attack to secure a place in the Champions League again, writes Dave Tindall.
Let’s be honest, this Liverpool team isn’t going to make a name for itself by keeping clean sheets and grinding out 1-0 wins all season.
Nope, our campaign will not be defined by defensive excellence. It will come down to how many goals we score and the good news is that it could be a lot.
We’re the highest scoring team in the calendar year of 2016 so Jurgen Klopp’s so-called heavy metal football is making a noise.
But which players are making the loudest din? Who are the ones getting LFC fans head-banging in celebration? And how will it translate into chart (league) position?
The list below shows the leading goalscorers since Klopp took over in October 2015 although I’ve not included anyone who’s left. They’re irrelevant to LFC now. See ya Mario.
Leading goalscorers under Klopp
13 Philippe Coutinho (11 Premier League, 2 Cups)
13 Daniel Sturridge (6 Premier League, 7 Cups)
12 Roberto Firmino (10 Premier League, 2 Cups)
11 Divock Origi (5 Premier League, 6 Cups)
7 James Milner (5 Premier League, 2 Cups)
6 Adam Lallana (5 Premier League, 1 Cups)
2 Jordan Henderson (2 Premier League, 0 Cups)
2 Emre Can (1 Premier League, 1 Cups)
2 Nathaniel Clyne (1 Premier League, 1 Cups)
2 Mamadou Sakho (1 Premier League, 1 Cups)
1 Sadio Mane (1 Premier League, 0 Cups)
1 Sheyi Ojo (0 Premier League, 1 Cups)
1 Alberto Moreno (1 Premier League, 0 Cups)
1 Dejan Lovren (0 Premier League, 1 Cups)
Using this list as a guide, I’ll now try and predict how many Premier League goals it might be reasonable to expect from each of our players this season. I’ll leave Cups out as it’s hard to assess. We could be eliminated early in both and it’s not actually relevant to the point I’m trying to prove.
Predicted Premier League goals
Philippe Coutinho (11): The little magician had his best ever goals return last season and, with two Premier League goals in the bank already, I’ll back him to nudge up to 11 this term. No-one has scored more times under Klopp and he’s capable of getting them in twos against big teams (Chelsea, Arsenal).
Daniel Sturridge (12): In terms of goals per game, no-one has a better ratio that Sturridge and you’d expect that from one of the Premier League’s deadliest finishers. If he stays fit, he score goals and he should get enough game time against the middle/lower ranked teams even if Klopp is reluctant to play him in big away matches.
Roberto Firmino (12): Klopp loves Firmino and for good reason. He fits the system perfectly and did well to reach double figures in the Premier League in his first season in English football. Expect more this time as he beds in further.
Divock Origi (7): Origi, like Sturridge, actually scored more Cup goals than Premier League goals last season but 11 combined was a useful return for a player who has come on leaps and bounds under Klopp. He might not be a regular starter in the Premier League but should still get his share.
Sadio Mane (10): The Senegalese has been an instant hit at Liverpool and should be good to reach double figures. He did that in his last two seasons at Southampton (11 and 10) and already he’s made himself one of the first names on the team-sheet.
Adam Lallana (7): He’s already registered for club and country this season so maybe Lallana has been practising shooting as well as Cruyff turns this summer. He should score more and maybe he’ll step up and get close to the 9 goals he netted during his best season with Southampton.
Georginio Wijnaldum (5): He scored 11 Premier League goals for relegated Newcastle last season and 14 for PSV in 2014/15. Seems to be a starter for now so despite not setting the world on fire he could make a useful contribution.
James Milner (4): Playing at left-back will surely hurt his goal output but Milner is the chosen penalty-taker and has already put one away this season. An attacking side should get plenty of spot-kicks so Milner is good for four goals.
Danny Ings (4): He’s down the pecking order for now but he can score goals at this level and, if injuries open the door, Ings could knock in a few.
Jordan Henderson (4): Hardly prolific but history says four is a reasonable amount to expect from the skipper. His best Premier League tallies are 6, 5 and 4 so that’s the ballpark we’re in.
Joel Matip (3): Will be the target for lots of corner and set-pieces so hopefully the tall and elegant Cameroon defender can nod in a couple. Looking at his Bundesliga stats, he seems to manage three nearly every season.
Marko Grujic (3): The new midfield signing looked a goal machine in pre-season but will obviously find it harder in the Premier League. Let’s temper expectations and give him three although he could double that figure if Klopp really takes to him.
Emre Can (2): It’s not his job to score goals but the German midfielder does make a few buccaneering runs forward and surely a few cracks from distance will fly in.
Nathaniel Clyne (1): I’ll be happy to see him get in dangerous crosses for others (he already has one assist). A rather panicky finisher so just the one for our right-back.
Alberto Moreno (1): He gives the impression he should score more but lacks composure in front of goal. And, for now, he’s lost his first-team spot.
Dejan Lovren (1): Another with the height and heading prowess to net from deal-ball situations but he doesn’t get many.
Mamadou Sakho (1): Will he play? The Frenchman might have a goal in him if he does.
Sheyi Ojo (1): Fair to expect a goal from the bench at some point.
Final tally: 89
Am I being too generous?
And, anyway, what does it all mean?
Well, here’s the crucial point. I went through the last 20 years of the Premier League and goal tallies tell a very clear story.
Let’s cut to the chase. Only three times in that 20-year-period has a team scored over 70 Premier League goals in a season and failed to finish in the top four.
For the record that was us (naturally!) in 2012/13 when we scored 71, Man City (73) in 2009/10 and Aston Villa (71) in 2007/8.
The other way of looking it at it is that 74 goals or more appears to guarantee you a top four finish. And the good news is that on current scoring rates we should achieve that comfortably this season.
Since Klopp took over, Liverpool games have seen more league goals than any other PL side (F60 A46) pic.twitter.com/1Pb22AMHWu
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) September 6, 2016
If we allow for Klopp’s settling in period and ignore his early games, then Liverpool have been scoring at over two goals per game in the Premier League since the turn of the year.
The figures are these in 2016: Played 21, Scored 46. Goal Average 2.19.
If we multiply that rate by 38 (the number of Premier League games this season), we’re on track to score 83 goals (my player-by-player predictions come out at 89 so maybe I wasn’t being stupidly generous).
So, the conclusion is this. Barring some real disaster in defence (coughs awkwardly), our projected (83) or predicted (89) goal count will see us finish in the top four. Simple!