The summer sale of Luis Suarez (pictured right) to Barcelona brought in £75m to add to the extra money generated from Champions League qualification and manager Brendan Rodgers used a significant amount of this money to bring in several new faces, while several of the ‘old guard’ were moved on.
Yet this season, things haven’t quite gone to plan as the reds have lost three of their first seven league games, producing some lacklustre performances on the way. So what has gone wrong for Brendan Rodgers men this season?
Let’s take a closer look along with some great ideas for bets you can place with Bet365, where new customers can place free Bet365 sports bets when they create a new account.
Current Liverpool Squad
Goalkeepers: Brad Jones, Simon Mignolet, Danny Ward
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Javi Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (captain), Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Suso, Raheem Sterling, Lazar Markovic
Attackers: Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini
The big thing to note here is that compared to last season, Liverpool’s current squad has much greater strength in depth, particularly in midfield. However, there is no denying that the loss of a player of Suarez’s quality has severely impacted the teams attacking threat.
That has been brought into even sharper focus due to injury to Daniel Sturridge, which has seen him miss every game since being injured on international duty with England in September, plus the lack of form shown by Balotelli since his £16m move from AC Milan.
There have also been questions defensively where Lovren has looked a solid addition but at times, Liverpool’s defensive frailties have been too easily exposed and there is still no clear indication of who Brendan Rodgers feels is Lovren’s best defensive partner.
Liverpool’s strength is in midfield where Henderson is maturing into one of England’s best midfielders, as is Adam Lallana and both will play a vital role for Liverpool this season. Raheem Sterling has huge potential and is Markovic can display the form that saw him shine at Benfica, then Liverpool look very, very strong in this department.
Rodgers seems to have problems in 3 out of the 4 key areas of his team. In goal, Simon Mignolet has come in for some criticism for a number of below par performances in key games at times and there is a growing feeling that the Belgian international is on borrowed time, with Liverpool reportedly looking at several top keepers from across Europe, reportedly for a move to Anfield in the transfer window.
In defence, despite bringing in Sakho, Lovren, Manquillo and Moreno, only Moreno has really caught the eye. Lovren has been steady if unspectacular but defensively Liverpool have had problems, especially at set pieces and the reds defensive frailties which were plainly evident last season, show no sign of improving this.
Midfield looks solid going forward, though there are question marks over their defensive abilities, especially when Joe Allen is out of the team, however in attack Liverpool have suffered problems. Sturridge’s injury problem came at a bad time for the team and with Balotelli and Lambert not firing and Borini showing no sign that he is true Liverpool calibre player, Rodgers must rue the decision to allow Divock Origi to remain at Lille on loan for the remainder of this season.
The young Belgian has been in top form for the French side this season, scoring 4 goals in 11 games and his pace, power and enthusiasm are what is sorely missing from the Liverpool attack at present.
Hope for the Future?
It’s not all doom and gloom for Reds fans though. This season was always likely to be a case of taking one step back to eventually take two steps forward following the sale of Suarez, who was instrumental to the team’s success last season.
This is a very young team that has its best years ahead of it. Adding Origi next season will bolster the attack and if Liverpool can find a way to bring the best out of Mario Balotelli, even if it means moving Steven Gerrard into a more forward role, then this could well address their attacking issues, especially if Daniel Sturridge is fit to make a return to the team soon.
It’s no secret Liverpool are looking for a top keeper and it is likely one will arrive in January which would certainly force Mignolet to buck his performances up, or lose his place to another talented player.
Defensively though, Rodgers still has a conundrum to solve. Continually switching centre backs around in a rotation system, or through injury hasn’t helped the team settle, nor has injury to key defensive midfielders in front of them (notably Can and Allen). Moreno looks a great buy at left back, but Glen Johnson still is a liability at times at right back.
If Rodgers can resolve these issues and players like Balotelli, Lallana, Markovic, Henderson, Moreno and Sterling can develop into the top quality players they have the potential to be, this has the makings of a genuinely top quality Liverpool squad. The question is, can the Liverpool manager bring the best out of these players?
Best Liverpool Bets
If you are looking for some Liverpool bets this weekend, then the reds are in action on Sunday afternoon against Q.P.R and they are 4/7 with Bet365 Sport in order to record a win at Loftus Road. You can back a 2-1 Liverpool win at 8/1 or maybe go for the more optimistic 3-1 win at 12/1.
The Reds are currently 33/1 to win the Premier League title and indeed, given their start to the season compared to Chelsea, those are odds not really worth taking at the moment. A better value bet is Liverpool to finish in the top four, which is an 11/10 shot, which when you consider Manchester United are 4/7 and Arsenal 2/5 (who have both had similar starts to Liverpool) that looks decent value.