The preseason hasn’t quite gone as planned. Weather, injuries, international competitions, etc, have all conspired against Jurgen Klopp and his summer training regimen. One of those injuries (thanks to international commitments) was that to attacking midfielder and Manchester United slayer Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaq is finally back in training and ready for action, alongside notable missing players Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker, and Naby Keita. Despite the poor run of results so far, Shaq doesn’t see a drop-off in the desire for success around the club.
“Everybody is really hungry and we want to go again” Shaq said in an interview with the club’s official website. “We need to show everybody we can do it again and try to also be a little bit better in the Premier League than last year.
“It will be difficult to repeat that as it is a tough league, but we have a good team and we want to do better every year and continue to progress.
“We need to be ready, it will be tough but I am sure we can start well.”
Fans might bemoan the lack of transfer activity, but this isn’t merely a “good” team as Shaq suggests, but a great one. While 97 points (or more) is a tall order, even for the best of teams, Klopp’s Reds are not obviously weaker, and some players—including Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Shaq—could play bigger roles this season than last.
Of course, a fast start is vital in order to sustain a title challenge throughout the campaign. Having Shaq and the rest back for the start of the season could prove vital in scraping together a few early wins, before most go off on international duty in September and inevitably pick up knocks.