Liverpool splurged over £160 million on players in the summer, and yet only one of those signings (Alisson Becker) was made with the guarantee that they would be a member of Jurgen Klopp’s first team. The others, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri, were made with depth in mind.

The Anfield side recognised that their squad was too thin to mount a genuine challenge for the Premier League title and took measures to address this. Now, Liverpool are reaping the reward of their summer programme of reinforcement, demonstrated perfectly in their last Premier League win over Newcastle United.

Klopp’s men put four goals past the Magpies as they established a commanding six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table, but only one of those four goals was scored by a player who would, if all were fit and available, make Liverpool’s strongest side.

Indeed, Fabinho, Dejan Lovren and Shaqiri all found the net, with Mohamed Salah also converting from the penalty spot. It was a display of depth from Liverpool, who are increasingly starting to look like champions in-waiting with every passing game, every passing victory. The strength of their starting lineup has been clear for some time, but now the strength of their squad as a whole is coming to the fore.

Klopp has options all over the pitch. He has Lovren to fall back on when Joe Gomez is out injured. He has Nathaniel Clyne to use when Trent Alexander-Arnold could do with a rest. In midfield, even with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the season through injury, Klopp can switch shape and approach, such is the diversity of the options he has at his disposal.

Even up front, Liverpool have more depth than many realise. Look at how Divock Origi came off the bench to score a late winner in the Merseyside derby earlier this season. When all is said and done, when the final whistle blows on the final game of the game, that goal could prove to be the difference for the Reds.

Manchester City could still rally back to challenge Liverpool. There is still time for the defending champions to make a fight of the title race. But while City were once seen to be the far superior team in every way, in players, depth and manager, that is no longer the case. Liverpool have everything City do, and maybe even more given their lead at the top of the table.

Saturday’s match against Arsenal, followed by the one away to City, could define Liverpool’s season. This is always a testing time of year, with the fixtures coming thicker and faster than you can wolf down the mince pies. So far, Liverpool have passed each and every test and that is down, in no small part, to the depth they packed on months ago.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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