Premier League: Liverpool Season Preview
New Season. New Players. New Liverpool?
I wish I could say that Liverpool will take huge strides forward this season, and become a new animal to the one that limped through the 2014/15 campaign. But I can’t see this being the case, as much as I’d love the contrary to be true.
And perhaps it would have been, had Liverpool spent more in the transfer window on one ‘marquee’ player. A cliché desire amongst football fans it may be, but a statement of intent, especially for a club in Liverpool’s position, can be the springboard back into the top four.
Having teams running scared before they ran out the tunnel in the 2013/14 season was one of the reasons Suarez was so influential that year. But it is not only fear that a big name can instil; it can also motivate his team mates – I imagine looking back and seeing Suarez in your ranks would be a lot more invigorating than the likes of Mario Balotelli.
A closely related threat to Liverpool’s target of the top four would be the spending of rivals; many would argue the likes of United, Chelsea and Arsenal may not have spent big, but all have spent both wisely, and have potential for more. Take Louis Van Gaal’s side; with the impending sale of Di Maria comes expectation of another big incoming, to add to a list that already includes the likes of Depay, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin.
Moving away from signings for now, and towards one of the reasons said signings may have been made; the Europa League. To care or not to care is the real question in this instance; those who take the latter of those two stances tend to argue that the Europa League is nothing more than the responsibility, almost a punishment for failing to make the top 4.
What makes the tournament such a problem for Liverpool is that Rodgers is unlikely to share that view, and rightly or wrongly will throw everything at it. Although this could of course result in Champions League should Liverpool go all the way, that seems unlikely for a team who twice lost to Basel without even putting up a fight last season.
So from a lack of players, to a drain on players, now it’s worth considering the possibility Liverpool have too many players. Or rather, enough that team selection could become an issue for Rodgers; and turbulence on the team sheet often transfers itself onto the pitch. Last season is evidence enough of this; only when the defensive line up became consistent did Liverpool put together anything that even remotely resembled top four form. And what happened when Liverpool reverted to a back four and the juggling started all over again? Before you knew it Emre Can was at right back and Mignolet was picking Stoke’s 6th goal out of his goal.
Stoke also represents another hurdle that stands between Liverpool and a successful season; with that particular fixture coming so early in the season, the Reds could lose momentum before they even attain it. Looking beyond the Britannia Liverpool’s other early fixtures don’t exactly point towards an early hoarding of points. Trips to Old Trafford and the Emirates both come within the first 5 weeks, and with a good start so often crucial to a good season, it’s hard to see Liverpool hitting the ground running.
However, I’m a Liverpool fan myself, so it’s obligatory I suggest on some level that ‘this year is our year’.
And you know, it just might be, but only if steps are taken to counteract the above points; especially seeing as aside from them, the truth is Rodgers has formed a squad with great potential. It’s just potential only got 7th last year, and it’ll take a lot for that to change this time round.