Date: 25th June 2012 at 10:00pm
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With the recent unveiling of the new Premier League fixtures for the 2012/2013 season there is plenty of excitement about the upcoming campaign and, despite Euro 2012 still on-going, the buzz is evident throughout all fans of English football for the next chapter in the game we love dearly.

The 2012/2013 season is yet another massively important season for Liverpool FC and it is the platform for new manager Brendan Rodgers to make his mark at Anfield. Even the most bitter of Liverpool fans is surely not expecting Rodgers to be pulling up trees straight away but a genuine challenge for fourth place is the minimum Reds fans will accept from their new boss.

With some superbly talented players already in the Liverpool squad and additions expected throughout the summer, the Reds are not short of players to be excited about for the new season.

Here, we look at who we think are going to be our five players to watch next season. This list will include a mix of youth and experience and covers all bases. So, in no particular order, the five to watch next season:

1. Alberto Aquilani

Straight away you may think to yourself – what? Why will he be important? Well, let me tell you.

If, as expected, Aquilani returns to Liverpool for next season amid reports of no interest in the Italian then it will be interesting to see where he fits in at Anfield.

He is certainly a Brendan Rodgers type player as he is intelligent, a great passer and has the creativity to engineer a plethora of Liverpool chances.

Having said that, there is no certainty that Aquilani, who has seemingly never settled on Merseyside, and his loud-mouthed agent won’t orchestrate a move back to his native Italy. It could be that, regardless of whether Aquilani wants to stay or not, Liverpool’s apparent move to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim could lead Rodgers to sell the ex-Roma midfielder anyway. In the 18 games Aquilani has played for Liverpool so far he has been impressive and looked like the sort of midfielder that has always been appreciated at Anfield and it is genuinely believe that the majority of Liverpool fans would like to see him given a proper chance to shine in the Premier League and 2012/2013 could provide him with that chance.

2. Lucas Leiva

When Lucas was ruled out for the rest of the season in November, it was no co-incidence that Liverpool’s form slumped significantly and our goals conceded increased alarmingly.

The Brazilian steadied the ship in midfield and his mix of tough tackling and intelligent link-up play had Liverpool fans wondering what might have been had Lucas avoided the serious knee injury he picked up at Chelsea in the Carling Cup. Lucas is expected to return for pre-season and all Reds fans are hoping that the centre-midfielder will continue where he left off in 2011.

With Steven Gerrard less likely to do all the running in Liverpool’s midfield due to his age and Euro 2012 commitments, Lucas is imperative to any success we aim to have and with his wide range of passing Brendan Rodgers will be more than happy to see Lucas in his side every week.

3. Raheem Sterling

The pacy, young winger got a taste of Premier League action for the first time last season and with Brendan Rodgers renowned for giving youngsters a fair few first-team opportunities Reds fans should expect to see Sterling a lot more next season.

The 2012/2013 season could potentially make or break Sterling’s Liverpool career as there is a chance it will give fans the opportunity to realise whether he is as good as his potential or whether he is just another promising youngster who doesn’t quite have enough quality to make the grade.

Liverpool have lacked genuine pace on the wing for a few years now and haven’t really had a wide man with notable talent since the days of Steve McManaman so a lot of Reds fans will be pinning their hopes on Sterling becoming a success. Cup appearances and substitute league performances will probably be the maximum Sterling can expect unless he manages to have a serious impact and forces Rodgers’ hand.

4. Andy Carroll

Towards the end of last season Andy Carroll showed us exactly why Kenny Dalglish decided to splash £35million on bringing the big man in from Newcastle in January 2011.

Despite an up and down season, Carroll showed twice against Chelsea that, on his day, he is unplayable. His strength, power and wicked left foot makes him a nightmare for defenders as John Terry found out on more than one occasion.

If Liverpool are to play under Rodgers as many people expect then Carroll will have a lot of work to do up front on his own but with a group of creative players around him, the striker will have many chances to get himself an impressive goal tally for the 2012/2013 campaign.

5. Martin Skrtel

Providing Liverpool can fend off the interest of Premier League champions Manchester City, who are reportedly interested in bringing the Slovakian centre-half to the Etihad, Skrtel will be the heartbeat of Liverpool’s defence again and will look to build a formidable partnership with Daniel Agger.

Voted Liverpool’s best player of last season, Skrtel will look to improve on a season which seen him claim the centre-back position permanently and make it his own; forcing Jamie Carragher out of the starting eleven for the first time in 13 seasons in the process.

Skrtel has spoken of his desire to stay at Anfield as long as Liverpool match his own high ambitions; something which will be proven over the summer and over the course of next season.

Some of you may agree or disagree with these five players, however, this list is in no way necessarily related to the best players at Liverpool FC but more the five players we believe will have an essential part to play for the team next year.

It would have been too easy to include players like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard as we know the importance of those particular players, nevertheless, give us your opinions on who you think will have the biggest impact next year at Liverpool.

Follow me on Twitter @ElliottTunstall

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