There are many fresh faces who will be touching the well-known ‘This Is Anfield’ sign as they walk down the tunnel…but are they good enough to supply the quality and depth needed to compete in four competitions?
The summer transfer window is long gone and we are now heading into the fourth round of Premier League fixtures for the season, but that isn’t the only challenge looming for several of Europe’s elite now the international break is over. Most clubs will have to contend with European football and domestic cup competitions while trying to rack up vital points in the league, which brings us on to Liverpool.
Much has been said about the way they spent their money over the summer and if they are ready to compete on all four fronts this year, but in truth, they could barely look stronger.
Granted, a Luis Suarez-shaped hole still plagues much of the analysis and furore around Brendan Rogers’ men since the Uruguayan’s departure to Barcelona during the summer and rightly so; the season is still young. But the reinvestment shown by Rogers is clear indication that he plans to earn himself a trophy this term – matching the aims recently highlighted by skipper Steven Gerrard.
Javi Manquillo and Alberto Moreno have been brought in to the ranks to prove competition for Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and John Flanagan in the wing back positions, although recent performances from the pair suggest they are ready to take those for themselves. Manquillo has looked comfortable against both Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur thus far this season, while Moreno scored a superb sole effort in the game at White Hart Lane to atone for an error made in the away defeat to Manchester City a week prior.
Elsewhere across the backline, Dejan Lovren has looked the leader Liverpool lacked last season in the centre of defence, pairing with either Martin Skrtel or Mamadou Sakho to sturdy effect thus far this season. Considering he is just three competitive games into his Anfield career, Lovren looks a shrewd piece of business after his £20m move from Southampton.
The Reds are looking good value to make it two consecutive clean sheets out of two when they host Aston Villa at the weekend. Liverpool are as still short as 13/50 in some areas – while Aston Villa travel to Anfield as the 10/1 underdogs.
The Villans are also priced at 5/6 to score under 0.5 goals in the game – which would mean a Liverpool clean sheet if this bet proved successful. You can click here to visit 32red.com and see these markets along with many more, should you be looking to place a wage on the weekend’s fixture.
Moving to the midfield, Rogers has bolstered his already heavy line up with the additions of Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana. With Jordan Henderson thriving, Joe Allen finally blossoming and Steven Gerrard being as composed as ever, these additions will provide healthy competition and also give Liverpool the presence they sometimes lacked when fielding a less than stellar first XI.
Can has the ability to fight in the middle of the park, while Markovic and Lallana offer creativity in the final third, news that will surely keep the tricky Philippe Coutinho on his toes – although a recent call-up to the Brazil squad suggests he is only getting better.
Rickie Lambert secured his dream move home to Merseyside and will surely be used as a different option to the pace and flair of Sturridge and Sterling, while the enigmatic figure of Mario Balotelli is a marquee signing in anyone’s book – even with his well-documented outbursts. ‘Super Mario’ has both Champions League experience and a Premier League winner’s medal to his name and has wasted no time in endearing himself to the fans – as various Liverpool-themed Instagram posts will attest to.
Last but not least is the signing of long-term prospect Divock Origi, who although won’t feature in Liverpool colours this season – having been loaned to previous club Lille for the current season – is a striker with bags of potential if his 2014 World Cup campaign with Belgium is anything to go on.
The moves made throughout the summer have thus far earned Liverpool a possible six points out of nine, which is not bad at all considering their only defeat came against Manchester City at the Etihad – a side who won that fixture last season and eventually beat them to last season’s league title.
The depth certainly appears to be there, but with the recent news of Daniel Sturridge’s injury setback on England duty, it seems the squad’s limitations may be put to the test sooner than first thought in their next fixture against Aston Villa at the weekend.