Liverpool’s squad depth heading into the 2018-19 season is better than it’s ever been in the Premier League era—and maybe ever. For fans, that means getting to look forward to a lot of fast, fun, gegenpressing football and, if things go to plan, a legitimate title challenge.
For the players, it’s going to mean a lot more competition for minutes. It’s hard to say how they’ll all feel about come October if some aren’t playing as they’d like, but for now they all seem to be on the same page: more depth, more competition for minutes, is a good thing.
“There’s competition everywhere,” said captain Jordan Henderson. “All over the pitch we’ve got two or three players in the same position. It’s good competition. Everyone is pushing each other, and if you don’t start you have to be ready to come on and make an impact.”
With the arrival of Fabinho and Naby Keïta, Henderson and his fellow returning midfielders from last season certainly look to be set for a tougher fight for playing time. Beyond the competition for minutes pushing everyone to improve, though, there are other advantages.
Last season, many key players played in upwards of 50 times, and if Liverpool make deep runs in the four competitions they’re involved in there could be more than 60 matches this season. A deeper squad should instead mean playing a more manageable 40 games.
There may be times when Liverpool only play four or five times in a month, and when that happens some players may feel underutilised, but over the long-haul of the season they will all be needed and—if they compete for it in training—they will all get their minutes.
“I have only been back for a couple of days but I sense how hard the lads have worked and they are right up at the standard that they need to be at,” Henderson added. “I feel as though we have got a fantastic squad. But it’s down to us to go out and do the business.”
“At the end of the day we want to win something this year and be successful—so we are going to need everyone.”