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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hooligan Guest Article: Liverpool Season Preview by Kevin Musc

           With the start of the Premier League campaign right around the corner, Liverpool should have high expectations to win their first League title since 1990. They finished second only to Manchester United last season, while achieving a club record of 86 points. They will be looking to improve even more this season by breaking their dry spell and winning their 19th League Championship.

  Liverpool have done some good business in this summer’s transfer market by bringing in the best English right back, Glen Johnson, while also adding Alberto Aquilani to bolster their midfield. The only down side was the departure of Xabi Alonso, who was Liverpool’s best player last campaign. With such an important player of their team gone, and with Aquilani not being fit for another 4-8 weeks, Lucas Leiva will have the chance to step up and prove himself.
  Liverpool’s defensive depth has also taken a hit this summer with the departures of Sami Hyypia and Alvaro Arbeloa, along with the possibility of Andrea Dossena moving back to Italy. On top of that, most of Liverpool’s remaining defenders are struggling with their fitness, as Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher, and Fabio Aurelio have all picked up injuries during preseason. Expect a move for another defensive replacement before the transfer window closes.

            Looking at Liverpool’s potential starting eleven, it has to be seen as one of best line-ups an English team has to offer. Rafa Benitez is keen on the 4-2-3-1 formation, so expect a lineup (when fully fit) looking something like this:

Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio
Aquilani, Mascherano
Kuyt,  Gerrard, Riera/Babel

  For Liverpool to have success this season, key players expecting to break out will need to perform. The three potential break-out players for Liverpool are:

  Ryan Babel- Came off an unimpressive season last campaign and has been working very hard in preseason to establish a consideration for the starting role on the left flank. His speed is his dominate attribute, but lacks a certain creativity to burn past defenders. In the past, he has been subject to selfish play, so the ability to recognize when to pass the ball or whether to dribble will certainly determine how successful his season will be.

  Lucas Leiva- With the absence of Xabi Alonso and Aquilani being injured for the start of the season, this could very well prove Lucas’s last chance to impress Rafa Benitez. He has probably been Liverpool’s best player during preseason, and he looks very ready to grasp the chance to play in the starting lineup. He will need improving on his defensive capabilities, as he gives away many free kicks in dangerous positions. Although he will never be Xabi Alonso, he could certainly provide Liverpool with a dominate force in the midfield.

  Emiliano Insua- The young Argentine left back has already been staking a claim to be in the starting 11, and with Fabio Aurelio being injured for the start of the season, he may have a chance to permanently cement his position within Liverpool’s lineup. His appearances last season gave Liverpool fans a taste of what was in store for their future. He must be considered one of the best young left backs in football, and certainly will be given ample playing time with the lack of depth in Liverpool’s defense.

  All in all, it should be a very exciting season for Liverpool. Although the loss of Xabi Alonso is a step backwards in their quest for the Premier League, Liverpool should feel confident about the forthcoming season. If they do not achieve their goals, it will be down to the lack of depth in the squad, as Chelsea and Manchester United do look to have better options off the bench. However, if Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard can remain healthy, Liverpool could be in for an even better season than last year.

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