Premier League Preview Number 3: Liverpool

14 August 2009

Liverpool

Biggest Ins
: Glen Johnson comes in to replace Alvaro Arbeloa. Alberto Aquilani comes in to replace the departure of Xabi Alonso.

Biggest Outs
: Arbeloa and Alonso are the big losses, but Rafa Benitez has brought in adequate replacement. Sami Hyypia and Jermaine Pennant were fringe starters and have gone elsewhere.

Easiest Month: September. After hosting Burnley, Liverpool travel to Upton Park. The month ends with Liverpool hosting Hull City. Baring major injuries, this is a nine point month.

Toughest Month
: February. After hosting Everton, Liverpool then travel to Arsenal. A trip to Manchester City awaits before the month closes out against Blackburn Rovers. It’s a tricky month due to three consistent teams to start. It’s possible they only get four points out of the month. It’s also possible Liverpool get seven.

Five Questions About Liverpool This Season
1) Can Liverpool get wins where last season they would have gotten draws? Five nil-nil results were to the likes of Villa, Fulham, West Ham and Stoke City (twice). Their four one-one draws: Arsenal (granted away), Everton, Wigan and Manchester City. These were all draws at the most inopportune times and that has to change this season if they want even a sniff at the title.
2) How long does it take for Alberto Aquilani to adjust to his new surroundings? When it became apparent that Alonso was Real Madrid bound, Aquilani became Rafa’s target. If he seamlessly transitions into the squad, that erases plenty of worry.
3) Could Glen Johnson end up Robbie Keaned? Johnson, when he was at Chelsea, always seemed to be at the low end of the right back totem pole; while at Portsmouth he flourished. If he doesn’t adjust rapidly to life at the big club, how fast is he written off? For the record, I think he will be just fine now that he has the in game experience.
4) Can Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both stay on the park together this season? There was a vast difference in how Liverpool played with either one, or both, out of the starting eleven. If both play together for at least thirty games, I feel they have an outside shot at the title.
5) Who partners Jamie Carragher at center back? Skrtel and Agger shared the responsibility last season. I expect Martin Skrtel will be the every game starter alongside Carragher.

My Ultimate Reality: Until Xabi Alonso left for Real Madrid, I seriously thought Liverpool could win the title. With Alonso gone, I think we could see the same old same out of Rafa. After a period while Aquilani adjusts to the Premier League, I see Liverpool going in a tear. Once the new year hits, I expect Liverpool to trip over themselves. Along with Manchester United and Chelsea, I expect this to be a tight title race. However, just like last season, draw’s will be this teams Achilles heel. After a tough fight, I think Liverpool will end the season in third.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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