Liverpool's title defence could hardly have gone much worse. Ravaged by injuries, the Reds did well to finish third and secure Champions League football.
The 2019/20 Premier League champions actually topped the league at Christmas, but their form soon dropped dramatically and they slipped away, finding themselves seven points off the top four at the beginning of May.
Five wins from five to end the season - including a memorable victory at West Brom secured by a 95th minute from goalkeeper Alisson, a moment which seemed to sum up the utterly bonkers nature of football in the pandemic - proved enough to avoid the disaster of missing out on the Champions League, but the Reds wound up 17 points behind title winners Manchester City - who they'd finished 18 points ahead of a year earlier.
But few, if any, defending champions have had to endure the injury carnage Liverpool did in 2020/21. A scarcely believable 23 players were missing at one point or another over the course of the campaign.
Nowhere did the Reds suffer more than at centre-back, where injuries to Virgil van Dijk - so imperious in the Reds' historic success the season before - Joe Gomez and Joel Matip hit particularly hard.
Those three made only 22 league appearances between them, and Klopp was forced to use no fewer than 20 centre-back combinations, with Nat Phillips emerging into the first team and Ozan Kabak coming in from Schalke in January on what felt like an emergency loan usually reserved for goalkeeping crises.
Thankfully for the Reds, goals were not a problem - only City and Manchester United scored more - as Mo Salah pushed Harry Kane all the way in the race for the Golden Boot, while Sadio Mane also got into double figures and Diogo Jota notched nine goals from only 12 starts as he endured his own injury problems.
Captain Jordan Henderson spent the final three months of the season on the sidelines, but Liverpool rallied in his - and the rest's - absence to avoid a complete write-off of a campaign.
There was just the one big arrival so far this summer - unsurprisingly a centre-back, France U21 international Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig - and while the loss of Gini Wijnaldum on a free transfer is hardly ideal, this is pretty much still the squad with which the Reds won the title at a canter two years ago.
They may face stiff competition from the likes of City and Chelsea, but surely there can't be any bad luck left to hit Liverpool this time around?
Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Loris Karius, Caoimhin Kelleher, Marcelo Pitaluga
Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Kostas Tsimikas, Andy Robertson, Joel Matip, Nat Phillips, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Neco Williams
Midfielders: Fabinho, Thiago, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones
Forwards: Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Takumi Minamino, Diogo Jota, Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott
PREMIER LEAGUE Everything you need to know for the 2021/22 season
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