The most competitive league in the world, English Premier League will be back from 8th August as Liverpool are scheduled to start their season against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on 9th August. The Reds had a disappointing last season where they finished sixth after having finished second in the previous term. The departure of Luis Suarez hit them hard which they could not overcome in whole season. Extra woes came as Daniel Sturridge missed most of the season with injuries and other strikers failing to put goalscoring shoes.
Since then, Liverpool have been tremendously busy in the transfer window to reinforce their squad. So where do the fallen giants lie ahead of the season? Let us find out that on this article.
Liverpool have a decent squad on paper although most of them are inexperienced. Seven major signings have been made and those players will need time to settle in. Departure of long term club captain Steven Gerrard will be a major factor on the field for the leadership which he possessed along with his world class quality.
The current squad of the Reds is-
Goalkeepers- Simon Mignolet, Adam Bogdan
Defenders- Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Kolo Toure, Alberto Moreno, Tiago Ilori, Jon Flanagan, Jose Enrique
Midfielders- Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, James Milner, Joe Allen, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino, Lazar Markovic, Jordan Ibe, Jordan Rossiter, Joao Carlos Teixieira
Strikers- Daniel Sturridge, Christian Benteke, Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli
A major summer overhaul has taken place at Anfield with seven major signings. The full transfer summary is here-
Christian Benteke – Aston Villa, £32.5m
James Milner – Manchester City, Free
Danny Ings – Burnley, Tribunal
Roberto Firmino – Hoffenheim, £29m
Nathaniel Clyne – Southampton, £12.5m
Joe Gomez – Charlton, £3.5m
Adam Bogdan – Bolton, Free
Raheem Sterling – Man City, £49m
Glen Johnson – Stoke, Free
Steven Gerrard – LA Galaxy, Free
Rickie Lambert – West Brom, Undisclosed
Andre Wisdom – Norwich, Loan
Lloyd Jones – Blackpool, Loan
Jordan Williams – Swindon, Loan
Kevin Stewart – Swindon, Loan
Sebastian Coates – Sunderland, Undisclosed
Brad Jones – Released
Javi Manquillo – Atletico Madrid, Loan terminated
Danny Ward – Aberdeen, Loan
Sheyi Ojo – Wolves, Loan
Best starting line up and predicted tactics
Brendan Rodgers, thanks to his seven signings, has a huge squad In terms of quantity of players and will have to scratch his head to select the best starting line up. Although, With Europa Cup duty, they have to play to many games this season and if the Northern Irish manager can use his team well, they can push for a top four as well as at least one silverware in the cups.
The best line up for Brendan will be a 4-4-2 diamond which helped them come close to the Premier League trophy two seasons ago. With two engines in the form of Henderson and Milner in the midfield, Rodgers will have to sacrifice one if he follows this formation. If he does not do that, he will have to field only one among the gifted attacking midfielders. It’s a long season and the fitness of the best striker Daniel Sturridge will be a huge factor this season. In the absence of Sturridge, Firmino may also play as a supporting striker alongside Benteke.
The best line up in 4-4-2 diamond will be like this-
Although, Brendan Rodgers may also shift to a narrow 4-3-2-1 formation. This would have an advantage of having both Henderson and Milner together on the pitch with Can or Lucas providing cover for the defense. The presence of a regista will help the fullbacks Clyne and Moreno to burst forward often, which they both are very good at. Coutinho, Liverpool’s Player of the Season last time is expected to start regularly with new arrival Firmino an Lallana playing the other attacking midfielder role. Benteke or Sturridge will lead the attack with Ings and Origi as covers.
The line up will be like this-
Philippe Coutinho- The 23 year old Brazilian was impressive last season which earned him a nomination for the PFA Player of the Year. He was also voted Liverpool FC Fans’ Player of the Year and Liverpool FC Players Player of the Year. The playmaker has to take some extra responsibilities this season while his team goes through the transition state.
Jordan Henderson- The midfielder has been assigned captain this season after the departure of Steven Gerrard and he has to lead the team as well as playing well. Jordan has improved a lot in the last two seasons and he has to make even more individual impacts now if he has to fill the void of iconic Stevie G at Anfield.
Players to watch out for
Christian Benteke- The Aston Villa striker moved to Anfield this season to solve Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool’s goalscoring woes. The key striker for Liverpool Daniel Sturridge featured in only 12 games last season due to successive injuries and the fitness of the talisman is a major issue. Last season none of the other three strikers was able to fill Sturridge’s goalscoring boots and Rodgers targeted the Belgian from the start of the window and got his man. Benteke is definitely one player to watch out for this season.
Roberto Firmino- The new arrival from Hoffenheim is definitely another player to watch out for. With the huge investment on him just like Benteke, the Brazilian will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders and we have to see whether he can live up to that.
The minimum expectation from the owners will be qualifying for Champions League football next season. A Cup win would be a major boost. Europa League should also be contended well by the Reds considering their depth in squad and a long run in the continental competition will be a confidence boost for them.
Even with the major sending and huge expectation, Liverpool is somehow short of getting top four. It depends a lot on Brendan Rodgers on what competition he focuses on. If he neglects Europa League, Liverpool may make it to the top four but otherwise fifth spot is the realistic finish for the Reds this season.