Ok, Liverpool may have finished second last season with only 2 points separating them from champions Manchester City. However, it is pretty much a consensus among everybody that it was more about them overachieving and getting a bit lucky while other teams were underachieving or in transition.
So come season 2014/2015, how should we consider Liverpool? Work in progress or finished product with enhancement to be made? My opinion? The former.
1/ One player… Luis Suarez
A lot has already been said about the 3 biting incidents in which Suarez was involved and there is no doubt that this kind of action has to be banned from the football world. However, one cannot deny the enormous talent that this player has. Liverpool will greatly miss Suarez and I’m not talking only about his 30+ goals. He has this ability to create something from nothing and also the capacity to drag defenders towards him and thus creating more space for his teammates.
2/ Transfer window has been crazy
This off-season, Brendan Rodgers and his backroom staff have not been slacking…. There has been no less than 8 new recruits and 1 loan in together with 6 transfers out and 10 loans out. No wonder that with the exit of such an influential player like Suarez, LFC had to look for players who could not only compensate on the goal scoring chart but also on creating goal scoring opportunities for others.
So the main question here is… Can BR pull all the new and ‘old’ players together and maintain their good flowing kind of play or will they encounter the same problem that Spurs did last season? With the selling of their main guy, namely Gareth Bale, Spurs could not make all their recruits (transfer fee of over £110M) play together as a team, which resulted in an average season.
3/ Which formation/Who to play
As mentioned above, no more than 9 players joined the team this off season. 3 of them are defensive players (RB, LB and CB) while all the other 6 are attacking players (still keeping in mind that 1 of them – Origi – has been loaned out). So, that’s 5 players to try fit in the team to compensate Suarez’s absence. 4 games already in the regular season and it seems that Brendan is still trying to juggle having a solid but creative midfield and a very attacking front 2 or 3. Now with Sturridge’s injury while on international duties, it seems like Balotelli will be leading the attack alone with 2 attacking midfielders by his side (Sterling & Lallana), an advanced playmaker (Coutinho), a solid holding/box to box midfield (Henderson) and a ‘quarterback’ in StevieG.
4/ Young and inexperienced squad
If one has a look at the starting XI that Brendan fielding during the weekend against Aston Villa and their respective age, it was as follows:
– Mignolet – 26
– Manquillo – 20
– Lovren – 29
– Sakho – 24
– Moreno – 22
– Gerrard – 34
– Henderson – 24
– Coutinho – 22
– Lallana – 26
– Makhovic – 20
– Balotelli – 24
That’s an average age of 24 – a team which include the aging StevieG at 34 years old. Youth is not necessarily a bad thing but what is missing there is the experience. Not as much as the experience of playing in the EPL but of playing up to 3 games a week and playing for a ‘bigger’ team – no disrespect to other teams there.
5/Champions League back to Anfield!
While all the LFC fans (me included) are thrilled about having mid-week Champions League games back to Anfield again, there is some uncertainty as to how LFC will deal with the extra set of games. Last time LFC was in CL was back in 2009 when they were eliminated at the group stages. Since then, LFC only had to deal with the EPL and the domestic cups. This has given them more time during the week to prepare for the weekend games. Now with CL back in town, it is still to be seen how LFC will deal with it. Yes, they have improved their squad numbers but most players have little to no CL experience. Also, one has to remember that injuries are like the lottery and at everybody’s doorstep.
LFC still has some way to go before being able to compete with Manchester City and Chelsea for the title but no doubt that they have enough quality in the squad to finish in the top 4 again this season.
Cheers for reading and as always, comments and reactions are greatly appreciated.