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Why Liverpool will challenge again next season - Lawrenson analysis

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The only time Anfield was flat on Sunday was when the Liverpool fans heard Manchester City had gone 3-1 up against Brighton.That basically ended any hope the Reds had of winning the Premier League title, but none of the supporters I spoke to before Sunday's game against Wolves really expected City to slip up anyway.By the time it was over, the crowd was up again, saying 'let's lift the team for Madrid'. There is still another game to play this season, and clearly it is a massive one for the club.
That is the great thing about Liverpool's situation now. Of course there was disappointment Jurgen Klopp's side fell just short after pushing City so close, but it did not feel like a failure, or the end of the world.The 29-year wait for a title goes on, but they still have next month's Champions League final to look forward to and a bright future beyond that too.
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Liverpool 2-0 Wolves: No regrets in special season - Klopp
Why I can't see Liverpool falling away next season
You only have to look at how many points Liverpool got this season to see how good this team are.I was co-commentating with Ian Dennis at Anfield on Sunday and he pointed out that the Reds' tally of 97 points would have been good enough to make them champions in 116 of the previous 119 seasons.Liverpool also only lost one of their 38 games as they finished a point behind City - I won the title four times with them in the 1980s and we never got near that kind of record.
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Last season they were 25 points behind Pep Guardiola's side, so it shows the incredible progress they have made, and I can't see them falling away next season.Why am I so confident[/IMG]What could Liverpool have done differently?
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Was this the title race's crucial moment[/img]
How can Reds improve next year?
When you look at this season, you can praise both of the top two teams together. One of them has edged an unbelievably good title race, rather than the other failing and losing it somewhere.That is why it is difficult to look through the Liverpool team and say they need to sign this or that to make sure it is a different story next year.
Click to see content: CityLiverpool
They will need another left-back as back-up to Andy Robertson because Alberto Moreno is leaving in the summer, and Klopp cannot expect James Milner to play there regularly.But it is not like the last couple of summers when it has been easy to identify what this team needs to improve it.In 2017 it was a centre-half, and Virgil van Dijk arrived the following January, while in 2018 it was a goalkeeper, and Alisson was the answer.Those problems have been solved, so primarily you are looking at adding depth in a few positions - at centre-half, or up front.You might argue that they don't really need any one position desperately, but I think it would be nice if they could get an attacking midfield player, of the sort they have not had since Philippe Coutinho left for Barcelona in January 2018.A criticism I heard a lot, particularly earlier in the season, was that with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sidelined, all of Liverpool's midfielders were too similar, and not good enough at opening up defences.I am talking about bringing in someone with a bit more creativity, like Lyon's Nabil Fekir, who they were going to buy last summer until the move fell through.The way the season has gone, you could not say they have missed him, but in future they will have to look at having more ways to win games, especially against teams who just sit in.
Liverpool cannot ease off
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On the evidence of the past few months, Liverpool can barely afford to draw a game next season if they are going to keep up with City - who have a total of 198 points from their past two campaigns.That is why the Reds cannot rest and be too satisfied with their achievements, because they will have to improve further if they are going to challenge again. As things stand, it is hard to see anyone else being in contention for the title next year.I know the rest of the top six will all be signing players in the summer, but I am looking at them now and thinking they won't be anywhere near City or Liverpool.There is no quick-fix at Arsenal or Manchester United, and everything is up in the air at Chelsea about who their owner and manager will be.For me, the only certainty at Stamford Bridge is that Eden Hazard will be leaving and, with their best player seemingly on his way out and a possible transfer ban looming, I cannot tip them to challenge.That just leaves Tottenham, who have lost 13 league games this season compared to one by Liverpool and four by City.Spurs finished 27 points off the top so they have a big gap to close, and they also have a doubt over the future of their manager.
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'I'll go home' if Spurs win the Champions League this season - Pochettino
Whether Mauricio Pochettino stays or goes could rely on them spending a lot of money and I just don't see it happening.In contrast, everything is already in place for Liverpool to kick on. You just know that City will be better under Pep Guardiola, but I am confident Klopp's team will be stronger next time too.Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.
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