EPL 2012-13 Preview – Liverpool
We continue with our preview of the 2013 English Premier League season. This week we take a look at Liverpool.
2011/12 Result: Eighth
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Ins: Fabio Borini (AS Roma), Joe Cole (loan finished – LOSC Lille), Dani Pacheco (loan finished – Atletico Madrid), Brendan Rodgers (Swansea City)
Outs: Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Kenny Dalglish (sacked), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Stephen Darby (Bradford City), Lewis Hatch (Accrington Stanley), David Amoo (Preston North End)
Despite a very underwhelming league campaign last season, Liverpool have been relatively inactive in the transfer market to date. While rivals have been securing a number of high-profile signings, new manager Brendan Rodgers has only added Fabio Borini to his Reds squad and bid farewell to favourites Dirk Kuyt and the criminally underused Maxi.
As is generally the case at this time of the year, Liverpool are linked with hordes of players across Europe but only a few continue to pop up with any regularity, those being Clint Dempsey of Fulham, Swansea’s Joe Allen and Uruguayan Gaston Ramirez.
Dempsey and Ramirez could certainly add to a Liverpool side that lacked a cutting edge in front of goal last season, but whether they are of the required caliber to lift Liverpool back into Champions League contention is questionable as neither has been tested at a big club and the pressure that comes with it.
Joe Allen, rumoured to be valued at 15 million pounds, does seem like a luxury signing with the plethora of midfield options available to Rodgers. With a British premium surely impacting Swansea’s asking price perhaps he is better off utilising what is already available in midfield and allocating that money to strengthen a different area of the pitch.
Craig Bellamy, Charlie Adam and most notably Andy Carroll have all been linked with the Anfield exit – with Joe Cole looking likely to stay – inevitably meaning Rodgers will need to bring in more strike-power for the season ahead.
A loan move for David Villa has been touted (with FC Barcelona linked to Brazilian Neymar) and in a similar mold of versatile and clinical forward Andre Schurrle of Leverkusen would make sense – however both are nothing more than talk at this stage.
Rodgers has continually stated he is looking for the “right kind of player” to fit his playing philosophy, heavily influenced by the Spanish and Dutch models of fluid movement, short passing, positional interchanging and frenzied pressure from the front, and Borini certainly fits into that model with his calm technical ability and high work-rate.
Current first-teamers Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson and Luis Suarez all seem like players Rodgers would appreciate and could fit into his philosophy, meaning it shouldn’t take long to stamp his style on the Liverpool squad. Whether players like Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique and Andy Carroll have the required attributes remains to be seen.
With a return to “the Liverpool Way” of negotiations being done behind closed doors and minimal leaks to journalists, don’t expect too much accuracy from the football press in their Liverpool speculations until something is officially announced by the club.
Promising midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has also been rumoured to be making a loan move to further his development after some impressive cameos last season, one including a 30-yarder against Chelsea.
KEY PLAYER – Daniel Agger
The Great Dane was one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2012. Leading the Danish side at the tournament after a successful 2011-12 campaign for Liverpool, the tattooed defender seems to have left his injury troubles behind him – well, mostly – and proven that he is a world class defender.
The cultured centre-back has commanded the interest of European heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid, such is his quality on the ball and ability to read the game – while also offering a goal threat from distance.
Liverpool conceded 0.87 goals per match when the Dane played last season compared to 1.31 per game in his absence. If Agger remains fit, Liverpool will have one of the best defences in the league, as well as a calm head to bring the ball out from the back, providing Rodgers with a solid foundation to build upon in his first season at Anfield.
FINAL POSITION PREDICTION: fifth
There is no doubting that Liverpool underachieved last season, but equally you cannot understate the bad luck that beleaguered the Anfield club.
With a questionable suspension to Luis Suarez, an astronomical amount of shots hitting the woodwork and being the second-most-affected team by incorrect refereeing decisions (taken from the independent www.debatabledecisions.com) Liverpool should be aiming for top four this season, and certainly are close to having a squad capable of achieving that.
With some shrewd transfers, it is not unrealistic that Rodgers may be able to sneak into the top four. However, with a new manager, new style, experienced players exiting the club and a number of new names to arrive, fifth place is a realistic and acceptable finish for Brendan Rodgers in his first season in charge.
Love is in the air at Anfield! Three of Liverpool’s first team squad, tied the knot during the summer break.
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