The Liverpool defeat taught us a few things for this coming season.
Firstly, the gap between us and the very top is still very much evident. Smaller than it was, but still there.
Secondly, Liverpool;s defensive midfield may not win any admirers, or score any goals for that matter, but it takes weight off the front three, who can concentrate on their own jobs, safe in the knowledge that behind them, things are taken care of.
It was the reason that the Reds took the points. They ran the midfield.
Our midfield was slightly shuffled for this game, with a central three designed to not only combat the likes of Henderson and Fabinho, but also have the ability to carry the ball forward when necessary.
Multi-talented it is, but not exactly the bedrock we need.
The setup had its successes of course, and for the majority of games, this approach will edge most teams.
The problem is, Liverpool are not most teams.
Even with a fatigued forward line, Klopp’s men created plenty and kept the lid on the game when our counter-attacking pace looked like it was going to have the desired effect.
How do we close the gap?
We have a world class forward line, but perhaps our defence and midfield need some tweaking.
Matteo Guendouzi, Jo Willock and Lucas Torreira aside, the engine room of our team don’t quite reach the desired levels we need. If Torreira gets injured, who do we have to step in at the base of our midfield? Do we think Elneny has what it takes to stem the tide of an opposition attack time and again? While Ceballos is a fine player, he’s not a DM. Neither is Guendouzi.
In defence, we are missing genuine brilliance in Keiran Tierney and Hector Bellerin. It is no coincidence that Liverpool found plenty of joy down our flanks and in Trent Alexander Arnold and Andrew Robertson, they have two full-backs that are a threat at both ends of the pitch.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a fine prospect, but let’s not forget he is a converted midfielder. Nacho Monreal has been arguably our most consistent player for the last five years, but he is a little long in the tooth now.
To close the gap, we need to bolster our squad. We need to administer a more consistent press and we must harness the technical qualities our players possess.
This season is looking bright, but until we are fighting at the top, it is still very much game on.