Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Liverpool
After spending over $100 million in transfer fees this summer, Liverpool need to challenge for a spot in the top four this season.
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Manager Brendan Rodgers will be under plenty of pressure to achieve qualification to the UEFA Champions League, but with Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard leaving, a new-look Liverpool could have plenty of growing pains. Traditionally the Anfield club are one of England’s most successful sides with 18 league titles, seven FA Cups, eight FA Cups and five UEFA Champions League titles during their rich history.
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Their Merseyside neighbors are Everton, who are based less than a mile away across Stanley Park, while Liverpool have a fierce rivalry with Manchester United.
Best possible XI:
—– Mignolet —–
— Clyne — Skrtel — Sakho — Moreno —
— Firmino — Henderson — Milner —
Benteke — Sturridge
Transfers In: James Milner (Free, Manchester City), Danny Ings (Tribunal fee, Burnley), Adam Bogdan (Free, Bolton Wanderers), Nathaniel Clyne ($20 million, Southampton), Roberto Firmino ($40 million, Hoffenheim), Joe Gomez ($5 million, Charlton Athletic), Christian Benteke ($50 million, Aston Villa)
Transfers Out: Raheem Sterling ($75 million, Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Free, LA Galaxy), Brad Jones (Released), Glen Johnson (Free, Stoke City), Sebastian Coates ($6 million, Sunderland), Iago Aspas ($7.5 million, Celta Vigo), Javier Manquillo (Loan cancelled, Atletico Madrid)
Last season: 6th in the Premier League, FA Cup semifinals, Champions League group stage - The Reds had an up and down season as they got off to a poor start and never really recovered. Despite going on a 13-game unbeaten spell at the turn of the year, Rodgers’ side could not remain in the top four after they had come agonizingly close to winning the title in 2013-14. It was a season of struggle as new players failed to bed in quickly and Daniel Sturridge’s long-term absence through injury, coupled with the sale of Luis Suarez, really hurt the Reds offensively. One high point was the form of Philippe Coutinho, as the Brazilian dazzled in midfield.
Star player: Philippe Coutinho - The Brazilian playmaker slots everything together and his play in-between midfield and attack will be crucial to the Reds’ success this year. If he can link up with countryman Firmino on the right and Lallana on the left to provide assists for Sturridge, Ings and Benteke, Liverpool will be in business. Still just 23, Coutinho now has two full PL seasons under his belt and he is getting better and better each month. With Gerrard gone, now is his time to step up and be the main man in midfield for Liverpool.
Coaches’ Corner: Rodgers is under pressure, there’s no doubt about that. Heading into his fourth season as Liverpool boss, he has yet to win any silverware and fans of the Anfield club are growing impatient as key players continue to leave. Will the likes of Milner, Ings, Firmino and Benteke settle immediately and help replace Gerrard and Sterling? Rodgers’ future as Liverpool boss depends on it, as despite preaching a free-flowing style of play, he reverted to a more defensive approach last season and the Reds struggled. His squad seems to be stronger this year with key additions throughout, but defensively the Reds still need help.
PST predicts: The Reds need to finish in the top four but it all depends on how quickly the new players settle in. This season Rodgers has added lots of talent who already have PL experience, so that should help. Expect Liverpool to be in and around the top four all season, but it may be another fifth or sixth place finish. Winning a cup competition could be vital to calling this season a success.