Liverpool Preview 2011/12
Liverpool are coming off of one of their worst seasons in recent memory. The club is still paying for the ineptitude of former managers Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson, who were both deservedly fired, but not until they had inflicted some serious damage to the squad. Benitez and Hodgson spent millions of dollars on mediocre players and new boss Kenny Dalglish is trying to get them back on the right track.
Dalglish has also overspent on players such as striker Andy Carroll and defender Jordan Henderson, but has added some quality players for reasonable prices in striker Luis Suarez, and midfielders Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam, with Adam being the best bargain of the bunch. Brazilian goalkeeper Doni was also added from Roma over the summer while defender Paul Konchesky was let loose.
The team has better depth than it has had over the past few years and looks to be pretty well balanced. With Suarez and Carroll up front, they could have one of the best strike forces in the English Premier League, but Dalglish has to have the common sense to play them together. The club’s pretty weak in the striker position after those two and they need to play as much as possible to be successful.
Dalglish has already been talking about resting Suarez at the start of the season after he played in the Copa America for Uruguay this summer, doing so would be a big mistake, especially with inspirational captain Steven Gerrard set to miss the first month due to injury. His loss will definitely weaken the midfield. Midfielder/winger Joe Cole is still in the squad after sitting on the bench most of last year and he needs to be inserted in the lineup. He’s too good a player to be sitting out.
Raul Meireles and Maxi are also good midfielders and Glen Johnson is probably the team’s top defender, at least offensively. Winger Dirk Kuyt is a tireless worker who has the knack of scoring big goals. The rest of the squad isn’t really bad, but they’re not what you’d call very good either. But you can only put 11 players on the pitch at one time anyway. The key here will be if the club can avoid major injuries to key players and if Dalglish consistently starts his best 11 players.
Liverpool’s problem last season was blowing points against the weaker teams in the EPL and by the look of pre-season results, they still have the same problem. Pepe Reina is a capable goalie, but he’s quite overrated. Australian Brad Jones isn’t a bad backup and Doni should still be capable of challenging Reina for the number one spot.
Prediction and Odds
Liverpool managed to finish in sixth spot last season after a terrible start under Hodgson. They could move up this year, even as high as second place, especially if Carroll and Suarez can fill the net. If they can’t for some reason, look for the club to finish fourth or fifth this season.
Our top rated sportsbook, 5Dimes.com has the soccer betting odds of Liverpool taking the EPL crown at +1125, behind Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal. It looks like a realistic bet that could provide a big payout if everything falls into place, which isn’t totally out of the question.