Saturday, 16 July 2011

Three Years in the Making – Liverpool finally have the missing players to step into the roles left empty from previous campaigns.

It was only 3 years ago when Liverpool FC were pushing Manchester United all the way for their first title since 1990, however it wasn’t meant to be and the Merseysider’s finished an disappointing second place, their best ever finish in the Premier League and with only two losses all season, a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham away and an embarrassing 2-0 away defeat to Middlesbrough. In spite of those results Liverpool racked up an impressive 86 points which at the time was the highest ever points tally for 2nd place.

Nowadays that incredible season for Liverpool seems a distant memory compared to recent performances, in the 2009/10 season they crashed down to 7th in the League and last season Liverpool flirted with relegation under former manager Roy Hodgson before being lifted to 6th under the leadership of club legend Kenny Dalglish and ending the season with hope for next year.

Under Dalglish Liverpool were a team transformed, players were producing the performances fans had remembered from that title challenging season in 2008/09 only a few years ago. He’s also gone about rebuilding another team that can start competing for honours and get back into the Premier League top four and more importantly, Champions League football.

With the new arrivals in January and this summer Dalglish has built himself another competitive Liverpool squad that can again start to think about making an impact at the top of the table. Suarez and Carroll have given Liverpool variety upfront, Suarez being a player who can drift out wide as well as cut inside from the wings and Carroll, a strong centre forward who’s good with the ball in the air and possesses a powerful left footed shot. Both have shown early signs of a good strike partnership and if time keeps allowing both of them to play together they can terrorise defences the way Toshack and Keegan did for Liverpool back in the 70s.

Then of course we have the summer arrivals of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing.

It is unknown what role Henderson will play at the club but for £16m it would be foolish to see the youngster stuck on the bench, not to mention a waste of money. He was an important player for former club Sunderland, creating 39 more scoring chances than any other of his team mates. However playing a similar role to Gerrard may limit the youngster’s chances, but perhaps he’ll be pushed out on the right as an alternative to Dirk Kuyt.

Charlie Adam has seemingly been brought in to finally replace Xabi Alonso as a Deep Lying playmaker with Lucas Leiva taking on the defensive midfield responsibilities. Whilst at Blackpool, Adam was instrumental in creating opportunities with his crosses from deep, which could come in handy with the likes of Carroll waiting inside the box. The newest arrival, Stewart Downing, is the perfect fit on the left wing and can compliment Adam in the centre of midfield providing floating crosses for Carroll to head into goal.

It will ultimately be down to Kenny Dalglish to get all his new signings as well players like Raul Meireles, who impressed fans a lot last season, to gel together and begin playing the fluid, flowing football a lot of old school Liverpool fans are used to. With the plethora of midfield options it would seem likely that Dalglish play some sort of 4-5-1 variant, whether it be two holding players in a 4-2-3-1 or a more compact 4-3-2-1, with Suarez and Gerrard behind Carroll as the lone striker, and either Lucas or Adam as the holding midfielder flanked by a couple of wide men.

Either way Liverpool have a much more rounded squad than ever and can have no real complaints as far as squad depth goes, with reserve and academy players like Jay Spearing and John Flanagan showing some real progression and promise under Kenny Dalglish last season. It’s too soon to start suggesting Liverpool can win the League, but breaking into the top four would be a good start along with some good cup runs to go with league performances. The Liverpool squad now is certainly looking its best since that successful of season 2008/09 when they finished second.

If Liverpool and the fans are patient then maybe their first league title since 1990 will eventually arrive, but we have to be realistic as there are no easy fixes in football and it will take some time before Liverpool can ever be expect to be crowned champions.

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