RG looks at our rivals: Liverpool



To continue with our season preview, we will today look at Liverpool. I will look at their relevant strengths and weaknesses and predicted finish- though the one on Man Utd (see here ) attracted a few angry responses from some of their fans.

The Gaffer

Rafa Benitez is quietly turning Liverpool into genuine title contenders. His first season (in 2004-2005) was one where he was himself finding his feet in the Premiership but remarkably ended with the Champions League. Liverpool's strong finish last season points to Benitez's growing understanding of the English game. He won the title twice in his homeland with Valencia when Real's Galacticos were in their peak so it shows that he can produce title-winning teams. Coupled with the FA Cup last season and the UEFA Cup at Valencia, Liverpool would feel that they have finally a manager that can can bring their first title since 1990.

Benitez is a quiet man and he did not self-appoint himself as the "Special One" after his Champions League win. He is possibly having the upper hand in the growing feud with Mourinho, though the latter must have a point that Benitez's Liverpoool can sometimes play a defensive style.

Strengths

They play a tactical game that can even gather more cutting edge this season, especially with the addition of pacy trio Bellamy, Pennant and Gonzalez. Of course, they also have a genuine leader in the centre of the park in Steven Gerrard, who drives them on in most matches. Their strong finish last year, the FA Cup win and the win over Chelsea in the Community Shield will make them start the season with confidence. Sissoko, Gerrard and Alonso forms a formidable midfield indeed.

Weaknessess

Scoring goals could still be a problem as an attacking quintet of Crouch, Bellamy, Fowler, Luis Garcia and Sinama-Pongolle will not frighten many Premiership teams. They relied far too heavily on Gerrard for goals last season but it is believed that Benitez is trying to bring in another striker. Their type of football can look laboured at times and they did not impress against Maccabi Haifa and lost a lot of their pre-season games.

Transfer activity

Bellamy and Pennant add much needed pace to the side while Mark Gonzalez already looks like an exciting signing. They lost Cisse, who I thought was a bit harshly treated as he looked their most dangerous forward at times last season.

Prediction

Will be stronger than last season and they won 11 out of their last 12 last season (though that defeat was against Arsenal) Rank: 2nd

23 Responses to “RG looks at our rivals: Liverpool”

  1. # Anonymous Lionel

    They have wonderful squad now with flair, stength and speed. I believe if our front stikers can meet their mark regularly, which were clearly lacked last year, they are a for sure a formidable team this year. With this they can go for the title this year.....Cheers LP!  

  2. # Anonymous Derrick Toronka

    RG as a Die Hard liverpool fan i do agree with your prediction, i do smile when our rivals state facts instaed of spewing hate like Chelsea fans they will have my respect and i wish Arsenal every luck for the coming season.
    I agree that our one concern at Liverpool this season will be goal scoring but then again considering the fact that Rafa has do a lot sensible buying to make our attacking options flexible(buying wingers) we might be able t provide our strikers with plenty of goal scoring chance time will tell. As a Liverpool support who likes Arsenal as well what is your take on Wengers young players? they look quite good.  

  3. # Anonymous Red Marauder

    This is about the most balanced pice of writing on a soccer blog for ages!! nice work. When talking about strengths, you have forgotten about the Liverpool defence, 2nd best defensive record in league, and a new club record set for clean sheets. I also think we will score a lot more goals this season, with more width added to the side in Pennant and Gonsalez. I reckon the league will finally see Pennants promise finally delivered. If we get Kuyt, who is apparently very good in the air I am very hopeful we can push Chelski all the way, and wipe that smug grin from that poser Moaninho!!

    Its good to see the Man U fnas still believe that there a good side, somebody has to I suppose.  

  4. # Anonymous james mann

    good analysis, we still have some way to , i think we need another striker + a defender , im actually not worried about on field antics simply b'cos along with the likes of mourhino we have the best manager in Europe tactically the man is a genius
    he is completely focused on using different formations etc... for me Steve Finnan is the most improved player & risse the best left back in england and that is not his preferred position, stevie G has a problem though ,with the midfield axis in place (momo + xabi) were does gerrard play, does benitez want to turn gerrard into a second striker what separates us from the others will be the adapting to the different formations and positioning benitez likes to use , off the field we are even being left behind by Aston Villa , what is rick parry still doing as chief exc. we need serious investment and fresh sponsors part of attracting a global market is having the right sponsors , what is carlsberb still doing on our shirts bring on LEXUS (the car manufacurers) their motto fits perfectly with LIVERPOOL , THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.  

  5. # Anonymous james mann

    good analysis, we still have some way to , i think we need another striker + a defender , im actually not worried about on field antics simply b'cos along with the likes of mourhino we have the best manager in Europe tactically the man is a genius
    he is completely focused on using different formations etc... for me Steve Finnan is the most improved player & risse the best left back in england and that is not his preferred position, stevie G has a problem though ,with the midfield axis in place (momo + xabi) were does gerrard play, does benitez want to turn gerrard into a second striker what separates us from the others will be the adapting to the different formations and positioning benitez likes to use , off the field we are even being left behind by Aston Villa , what is rick parry still doing as chief exc. we need serious investment and fresh sponsors part of attracting a global market is having the right sponsors , what is carlsberb still doing on our shirts bring on LEXUS (the car manufacurers) their motto fits perfectly with LIVERPOOL , THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.  

  6. # Anonymous tom

    I fancy either Liverpool or ourselves to finish second this season. I've always been impressed with Benitez's professionalism and his ability to change a winning formula when needed, and after two seasons in the Premiership he's got the experience to really push Liverpool forward.

    I think the biggest problem this season for Liverpool, as with last season, will be scoring goals. If they continue with the five man midfield and Crouch up front I can see problems, as Crouch, whilst having obvious attributes, is never going to be a 25 goal a season player in my opinion. Gonzalez down the left and Pennant down the right gives real pace and penetration, but neither has proven their ability yet at the top level.

    If they switch to a four man midfield, allowing for two up front (Bellamy the extra man, who I think will do well), they will score more goals, but will need to make difficult selection decisions. There's talk about pushing Gerrard out to the right in order to accomodate Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko in the centre. I think Sissoko has to play. The more I see of him, the more he reminds me of a young PV4. Even the leggy, languid way he runs reminds me of Pat. Personally whilst Gerrard can play on the right, you've got to play your best players in their best positions, and for Stevie G that's centre mid.

    Drop Alonso, four man midfield of Gonzo, Momo, Stevie G and the young offender. That's as strong as any around.  

  7. # Anonymous gazzap

    agree that sissoko is their key man this season, he must stay fit. without him they have no ball winner to dominate that part of the pitch. Gerrard I fear will be used more and more as a right winger. he can do damage from anywhere but I'd play sissoko and Gerrard in the middle with any 2 attacking wingers eg Gozalez and Pennant of even put Alonso out right just like Arsene does with Cesc sometimes. Bellamy and Crouch will make a good partnership. I think between Arsenal and Liverpool, at least one of us will finish in front of chelsea. probably whoever has the fewest injury problems in the coming months.  

  8. # Anonymous Rafa the gaffa

    I believe our strikeforce will strike fear into Premiership teams now we have the pace of Bellamy, don't use the Henry Yardstick for everyone my gooner friend! That's just not fair! ;-)  

  9. # Anonymous Noel Jackson

    I fancy Liverpool to win it, Arsenal to pip Chelsea for second place. That fella Sissoko is immense. They still have questions over their goal scoring abilities but I think we are looking at this years champions. I would prefer to see Liverpool win it any day ahead of Chelsea or Man Ure....you've got to agree their fans deserve it.  

  10. # Anonymous Zoidy1

    My word! An oppo blog that's fair and reasonable. Congratulations.

    I don't mind admitting that Arse are the only club I will take time out to watch apart from my own.

    Crouch is of course not the answer for Liverpool or England. He's a brilliant super sub but over 90 mins defenders work him out. IF we buy Kuyt or similar (and he's successful) then I think it's fair to say we'll be a threat at the top.

    Without?

    I'm off to read your manc assessment.  

  11. # Anonymous lc

    Good article. True, Liverppol look very good. I just think they need three more players, a stricker, another ball winner like Cissoko and a centre-defendeur; unless Steaven Gerrard joined their stricking force. He looks to me a genuine stricker like TH14 who just needs to be given the licence to do the job.
    Liverpool strength is a bit too much on Cissoko and I don't think Alonso, although he is a great passer of the ball, is not in the same league as Momo in term of winning balls. I guess Liverpool could miss him heavily in case he was injured, the same goes for Arsenal who need another defensive midfield. And the defense relay too heavily on outside trap, which put then in trouble with Hernan Crespo last season. Their defenders are not that very quick, as Chevchenko managed to beat the outside trap and quickly score last sunday. Many of that could happen this season. But, what I saw last sunday against Chelsea was very impressive. I am a gooner who doesn't mind seeing Liverpool winning the Premiership anytime soon or later. Again, Good article.  

  12. # Anonymous Scousefire

    Fair play to you for a freshing and honest blog about a rival team, always nice to see! I`ve always admired Arsenal, especially players such as Viera, Dennis B, Keown. Presently, i`m a fan of the lad Van Persie and Fabregas. One bit of business that did surprise me was the selling of Pires to Valencia, always thought he was a decent player.
    As to my team, Liverpool. As most guys have already said, our problem last season (and potentially this season) is goals, Crouch for all his effort and good feet is never going to be a 20 goal + man, however I do believe Bellamy is going to be a big star for us. We are reportedly on the verge of having Dirk Kuyt, and have also been linked with Klose. If we get any of either of them two, i`ll be a happier man.
    Midfield and defensive, i`m happy with what we brought in, Pennant and Gonzalez are there for pace, Momo is getting better and better each season - and dare I say it reminds us of a certain Mr Viera !! Our defence is fine, Hyypia is getting no younger, but with Paletta brought in we should be good enough.

    Overall, I geniunely think either 1st or 2nd this season.

    Best of luck to yourselves and thanks for the comments  

  13. # Anonymous DeDantZA

    Nice honest post, not many of them lurking round opposition's blogs or websites.

    My opinion is that Liverpool will actually have a 20+ striker this year, with or without Dirk Kuyt. The Bellamy/Crouch combination is going to create a bit of havoc around defences and will probably end up somewhere near the Keegan/Toshack combination. Here's hoping anyway.

    Again, a great unbiased post. Good to read.  

  14. # Anonymous arsenal lad

    Great article. As said elsewhere, its really refreshing to have an open & decent football discussion with other fans.

    As my partner is a Liverpool fan I have been following them quite a bit over the last few seasons and I honestly think that they can and will push Chelsea all the way this year.

    Rafa has done a great job in a assembling a very good squad. Initially I wasn't convinced about sissoko but he seems to get better and better and looked awesome on Sunday.

    Hopefully Arsene can bring in a CB and a Def CM and make this years premiership very exciting and competitive.

    Good luck to Liverpool this year.  

  15. # Anonymous Red in Holland

    Nice one mate !!

    Tactics are the strength of Benitez, as shown by Valencia's ascendancy during Rafa's tenure there. What is frequently overlooked is Paka Astereyan's impact as a training coach, between them they manage to extract the most out of a player, and to instill the team unison that is showing now, to give LFC so many options in the course of a game.

    Even without the arrival of a new striker, I can the strengthened wings, plus the addition of Bellamy, giving us a formidable attack this season, don't discount Fowler's contribution to our goal total.

    As others have stated, I myself have had nothing but good experiences with the Gooner support, all in all good lads. We are unified in our desire to see neither the Mancs or Chelsea's Nouveau Rich team taking any trophies or titles.

    Good luck in your season, lads.

    RiH  

  16. # Anonymous Naveed

    Excellent analysis. I think finishing 1st is a real possibility, because if you look at last season's results, if we had beaten Chelsea home & away, the title would've been ours. I think it's going to be even closer, especially with all 4 clubs on an equal footing (at least on the pitch). Add to that (dare i say it!), Spurs in the fold, I can see Chelsea being turned over at least 4 times. On Liverpool, this is probably their strongest squad since the management days of Kenny Dalglish. Defensively you'll see the innevitable last days of Hyppia, replaced by Agger/Paletta, with Sissoko promising to be a real 'Monster' in the middle and plenty of options out wide. If we can get Kuyt or Klose, I think there'll be plenty of goals from Bellamy and Fowler. Could be the year we record our 19th title. Good luck Arsenal; let's hope for a 1 and 2 finish.  

  17. # Anonymous Peter W

    I think the character of the manager has a lot to do with the perception of the team. While you always want to beat them you can admire what Liverpool are trying to do and Benitez seems a likeable bloke. You could imagine spending a hour with him over a pint in a pub. With Mourinho you would want to tip the pint over his head after 5 minutes and much the same with that sour faced old grouse Ferguson. Might make a good post that - which other managers could you have a drink with?  

  18. # Anonymous Lee

    You all look like Liverpool supporters... so it is understandable that you all try to convince yourselves how good you are this season, or any season for that matter. But pls don't be blind to reality, you are NO WHERE NEAR the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal. Your Champions Leageu win couple of seasons ago were a FLUKE, it there was a replay surely AC Milan would have thrashed you 3-0, without making the same mistake. Lets face the reality, your players are not the best in the EPL in their positions, but I have to admit that as a team you guys stick together like superglue and very compact especially after leading the scoresheet.. but I this is more because of one person... your captain Gerrard... without him Liverpool will fall like a deck of cards. I perdict next season Gerrard will move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid if Liverpool fails to win the league. Gerrard is getting old, so he wants to have some success, which he is more likely to get in Spain, or at Chelsea and Manchester United if he chooses to remain in England. Don't be angry with this criticism of your team, but pls face the REALITY.  

  19. # Anonymous Suren

    Excellent review and unbiased, as pointed out we need to score goals, but pre-season friendlies pointed out that our defence was not clicking like they should. Good luck to all the teams and may the best team succeed.  

  20. # Anonymous Peter W

    Lee - I think you are the one with the loose grip on reality. Why would Gerrard go abroad to get success? What would he achieve? He has already won the CL and has FA & Uefa cup medals. He hasn't won the Premiership but would have done if he had joined Chelsea but he turned them down. As for Liverpool they have shown they can still be succesful when Gerrard is out. The article above was a balanced view - yours is not.  

  21. # Anonymous Dean

    I agree that Liverpool are a force, but I don't think that they have what it takes to go that extra mile for the title. While their defence is solid, it's relies on the bravery of Carragher far too much and look rocky at times. The midfield of Gerrard and Alonso is sensational, but the I feel that a team like Liverpool needed to be signing players like Simao, Vicente, Downing, Duff, not Pennant and Bellamy. Although the're good players, let's not forget that they didn't really stand out at lesser teams, will they take Liverpool to the next level? Are they world-class players that will strike fear into Europe? With Ashton and, for example, Owen up front, they'd have a fantastic Benitez-esque forward line, but I just hate Crouch. I would be absolutely gutted if he was a gooner, he is not Liverpool class, he was/is Southampton class.  

  22. # Anonymous Thanos aka Mr Serge

    the problem with rafa is his transfer dealings are very hit and miss 60% of his buys have flopped and he just ships them out it will be the same again this year with either bellamy or more likely pennant not making it, aurillo is another fullback signing his 8th in 3 seasons for to many to have a consistent team, saying that rafas strength is that he adapts to the team he is playing and is not afraid to change things at any stage of the game liverpool will challenge but ultimately will fail this season, but they are on the right track and i think they will push us and chelsea and the manks all the way  

  23. # Anonymous BazC

    Hey lads, some good views here. I feel that Rafa's building us a solid team who will be able to defend and attack well- just as he did at Valencia. We've seen just how strong we are in terms of our squad (and not just a 'starting 11') last Sunday. We fielded a weaker team than anyone expected, but still won. Watching Steven Gerrard and Alonso coming on as subs with us being the better team just made me incredibly happy. Strength in depth is what it's all about. We've just bought Kuyt, and I'm sure we Liverpool fans hope that he is to Liverpool what Bergkamp was to Arsenal! We've bought really well this season- our 2 new wingers are really going to add an extra dimension to our play.

    On Arsenal (I feel as though I should say something about them since I am on an Arsenal blog!)- play some brilliant football, but against the likes of Bolton (urgh) it just doesn't seem to work- you need a destroyer in the mould of our Sissoko (:D). Henry- long been one of my favourite players- and in my opinion the joint best player in the world. Quite like Van Persie and Fabregas- 2 real good players there. Whilst I'd rather see Arsenal win ahead of Manure and Chelsea- I really feel as though we've got the team to really go for it this season. So, I'll say Liverpool 1st, Arsenal 2nd, Manure 3rd and Chelsea 4th :D

    Good luck lads  

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