Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure, Aly Cissokho, Tiago Ilori, Mamadou Sakho and Victor Moses have all come in to the club this summer, keeping Brendan Rodgers and Ian Ayre busy right until the final day.
However, with all these new faces, Brendan Rodgers will want to rotate and experiment with his team a little bit so that he knows what his best starting XI is in such a crucial season. It’s vital that Liverpool finish in the top four because of the finances that comes with it. Financial Fair Play is starting to come in and Liverpool don’t want to be left further behind in attracting top players and receiving Champions League revenue. They haven’t been in Europe’s top competition since 2009 and that needs to change.
Therefore, with Liverpool’s deals done, here is my perspective on the strongest starting XI Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal:
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
No argument in this one. Even if Shay Given had arrived, he would undoubtedly have been a back up along with Brad Jones for the Belgian shot-stopper. After arriving from Sunderland for £9m this summer, Mignolet has impressed in his first three league games, keeping three clean sheets and will be Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper this season.
Defence is where Liverpool now have fierce competition for places with the arrivals of Cissokho, Ilori and particularly Toure and Sakho. At right-back, Glen Johnson is still the main man for the Reds, with Martin Kelly (who can also play at centre-back and even left back), Andre Wisdom and Jon Flanagan the ones who will deputise for the England international. At left-back, it is a similar story for Jose Enrique, although Aly Cissokho should provide formidable competition, at least more than Jack Robinson, who is now on loan at Blackpool.
It is centre-back which is arguably the hardest area to pick the two strongest players to line up for Liverpool. I have gone for Mamadou Sakho and vice captain Daniel Agger.
Agger remains our best player in that position, and his experience and class remains, as long as he is fit and consistent. Meanwhile, Sakho can play on the ground, just like Agger, which suits Rodgers’ style of play. Furthermore, he possesses a great deal of physical strength and is very dominant in the air. But one of the biggest advantages about Sakho is that he is only going to improve with regular football, something he lacked at Paris Saint Germain.
Alongside Agger, that partnership could become one of the best in the Premier League, despite the fact that both are left footed. Martin Skrtel is also a formidable defender, but lacks the technical ability of Agger and Sakho, while Kolo Toure, at 32, will play but will have to be managed so that he performs at his peak and avoids injuries. Meanwhile, Sebastian Coates is out for most of the season and Tiago Ilori is one more for the future.
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva
Captain Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva will provide the balance between defence and attack, patrolling the centre of the pitch, picking up the ball, distributing it and breaking up opposition attacks. Gerrard will be the one to look get the ball rolling forward, while Lucas will be more focused on sitting in front of the back four. However, the energy of Jordan Henderson and the technical ability of Joe Allen make for decent deputies, and they have the additional pace that may be required at times to help Gerrard and Lucas if they are being overrun.
With a flurry of new signings up front in the shape of Aspas, Alberto and Moses, Liverpool do boast some impressive attacking weapons that will hopefully score the goals to fire the Reds into the top four. All of the players are comfortable rotating position, moving around the pitch and not just staying in a fixed position. This causes havoc for the opposition defence – they have no idea who to mark as the players move around constantly and sometimes they don’t have anyone to mark at all.
Nevertheless, there is a clear quartet for Liverpool in attack this season. Obviously Suarez will start for Liverpool once he returns from his ten game ban – despite his problems, he is a world class player, arguably only behind Messi and Ronaldo. Daniel Sturridge is in the form of his life at the moment while Coutinho has been completing the trio that have at times been on a seemingly telepathic level.
Finally, Rodgers has been looking for a left winger so that Coutinho can move into a more central position, and Chelsea loanee Victor Moses could fit the bill. Liverpool are enjoying the Chelsea connection at the moment – first with the success of Sturridge and now the loan of Moses. Strong, fast and with an eye for goal, Moses has fallen down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge with the arrivals of Samuel Eto’o, Willian and André Schürrle after arriving from Wigan last season.
Raheem Sterling, the new Spaniards Aspas and Alberto, and youngsters such as Jordan Ibe and Jerome Sinclair will all keep the main quartet on their toes.
Overall, this summer Liverpool have built a squad that looks, on paper at least, able to challenge the likes of Spurs and Arsenal for a Champions League place. It’s not just about the first team, but also the strength of the bench, and that’s what Liverpool have addressed in this transfer window, with plenty of talented back-ups in all positions. Whether they finish in the top four remains to be seen, but with the impressive start to the season and the transfer business that has been concluded by the club this summer, Liverpool fans have plenty of optimism for the rest of the season.
Bring it on.
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