Not since the days of Abramovich’s takeover in Chelsea back in 2003 and the takeover of Manchester City by the oil billions (or trillions?) of the Abu Dhabi Royal family has the EPL experienced such a large expenditure in the transfer market. Arsenal have bucked their recent trend of buying only youth players and saving money with the purchases of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud early on in the transfer window, and possibly the move of the year with the fantastic capture of Santi Cazorla. Manchester United also bagged a major coup of their own with the signing of Borussia Dortmund’s star attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa and last season’s top scorer Van Persie. Chelsea have been the biggest buyers thus far, with talented individuals such as Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin bought in order to fulfill Abramovich’s craving for a team that is easy on the eyes as well as dominant.
But one team that is not grabbing many headlines is Liverpool, as their fall from grace is shown with their 8th place finish, their worst in 18 years. After the sacking of club icon Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool appointed former Swansea manager Brendan Rogers as head coach. Rodgers has now gone about transforming Liverpool into a team with his Swansea blueprint, which is a 4-3-3 formation with inverted wingers that will provide a threat on goal and quick passing similar to Barcelona’s style.
They have also been moving behind the scenes in the transfer market, slowly getting rid of the deadwood and high wages in the form of Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Fabio Aurelio and Alberto Aquilani. Aquilani seemed to be a perfect fit for Rodger’s system, but unfortunately injuries and a lack of opportunities caused the player to look for pastures new back in his homeland of Italy where he still has an excellent reputation.
One by one Rodgers is also strengthening the team, with the acquisitions of former star Fabio Borini and Joe Allen bought from Roma and Swansea respectively. Liverpool has also agreed a deal for Heerenveen’s very talented young Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi, another player that fits perfectly into Rodger’s blueprint. With talks that Liverpool might also pip Arsenal to the signing of Nuri Sahin on a one year loan deal from Real Madrid and that Liverpool will hold on to defender Daniel Agger, despite Manchester City’s interest, will mean that Liverpool will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
A midfield trio that consists of Gerrard, Joe Allen and the return of Lucas from injury, with a wealth of back-up options in Nuri Sahin, Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing and Charlie Adam can prove to be strong in the creative department though it is somewhat lacking in steel from the defensive midfield. The flanks will have the support of Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson bombing forward at every opportunity and the defensive partnership of Martin Skrtel and Agger are as good as any in the Premier League. They also have the experience of vice-captain Jamie Carragher and the excellent potential of Sebastian Coates to rely on.
This wasn’t Liverpool’s issue last year as their profligacy in front of goal last year well-documented. With the tandem of Luis Suares and Borini along with the impending arrival of Assaidi, and Joe Cole and Stewart Downing available on the bench, this can be improved this year. The presence of Andy Carroll, if he should stay put, also presents a Plan B that most teams do not possess and can allow for a change of tactics while chasing a game. Most can argue that last year it was more Liverpool’s lack of finishing ability rather than bad coaching that led to their low league finish, and this year it seems Rodger’s has moved to change that.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United can all look forward to what should be a promising season after a summer of big spending and the arrivals of major talent. Manchester City, while only bringing in Rodwell, can also look to have a big season with an immensely talented squad. With Rodger’s new vision and system Liverpool may not had a summer like their rivals, but come the new season expect them to give them all a run for their money and spring a surprise or two.
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Written by Mahmoud Ghellai