Soccer BPL Preview: Liverpool looks to rebuild after collapse

Nick Andrade,
8/14/2014 10:45:15 AM
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Manager: Brendan Rodgers

Last Season: 26-6-6 (second in Premier League)

Notable Additions: Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Lazar Markovic (Benfica), Emre Can (Bayer Leverkusen), Javier Manquillo (Athletico Madrid), Divock Origi (Lille), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla)

Notable Subtractions: Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Bayern Munich)

That was Then: The story of Liverpool's 2013-14 season is a story of what could have been. The Reds had arguably one of their best seasons in over a decade in the Premier League, but it all fell short in the final weeks of the season.

From Feb. 8 to April 20 Liverpool had their best stretch of the season winning eleven straight matches including a 3-0 victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United and a dramatic home win against Manchester City on April 13. During that run of form, the Reds propelled themselves from fourth place in the table, all the way to first with three games left in the season.

It was the next two games, however, that proved to be their undoing.

A 2-0 loss to Chelsea at Anfield followed by a shocking draw with Crystal Palace, where Palace scored three unanswered goals in the final ten minutes of the game to bewilder Brendan Rodgers and his squad.

Liverpool fell short in the final week of the season to Manchester City, who won the championship by two points despite the Reds winning their final match. Liverpool's league title drought extended to 24 years.

The positive that came with the second place finish was a secured spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season, where they have been absent for four years.

The Reds also managed to score the most goals during the Premier League season with 101, just two shy of the all-time record held by Chelsea from 2009-10. Luis Suarez was the catalyst firing home a league best 31, capturing the golden boot, and the Professional Footballers' Association Players' Player of the Year Award.

The surprise of the year was the emergence of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling. The 25-year-old Sturridge finished second in league scoring with 21 goals, while giving Liverpool a one-two offensive punch. Sterling made an impact at midfield for the Merseysiders at just 19 years-old injecting new life into the club with his speed and playmaking ability.

Captain Steven Gerrard also didn't miss a beat with a league high 13 assists in 34 appearances, and continued to be the pillar for the club.

This is Now: The long, tumultuous affair between Luis Suarez and Liverpool is over. After the biting incident in the World Cup and the four month ban that came with it; Liverpool was willing to part with the 27-year-old. Suarez was transferred to Barcelona for 75 Million pounds. Although it freed up a lot of money for Brendan Rodgers to sign other players during the transfer window, the star player was the key to the Reds offense, and it will be hard to replace his talent.

As of now the Merseysiders have spent only four million adding strikers to replace Suarez's output. Rickie Lambert was signed from Southampton on a two-year deal. The 32-year-old was tied for 13th in goals last season in the Premier League. He isn't the same player he once was at his age, but he still brings a veteran dynamic to the pitch.

Liverpool did sign 19-year-old World Cup standout Divock Origi to a four-year deal from Lille. The striker would have helped Sturridge up front but the stipulation of their deal with Lille was that he would be loaned backed to his former club for one year. So Anfield will not see Origi until late 2015.

The Reds however did shore up their midfield and defense during the off-season. Liverpool loaded up on more players from Southampton during the transfer window, signing central defender Dejan Lovren and attacking midfielder Adam Lallana from the Saints. Lovren is an organizer in the backfield, and a leader on the pitch. The Croatian national is an aggressive centre-back that brings a certain edge that was lost when Jamie Carragher retired in 2013.

Lallana is fast exciting midfielder who knows how to create chances. He'll fit right in with the likes of speedy youngsters Sterling (19) and Philippe Coutinho (22) on his wings. The 26-year-old was named to the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season with nine goals in 38 appearances. Although Lallana recently suffered a knee injury that will keep him out the first three games of the campaign, he will be poised to get back to form.

The signings least talked about could end up being most beneficial. Liverpool signed two 20-year-olds: Emre Can and Javier Manquillo. Can played 29 games for Bayer Leverkusen, and the German midfielder registered three goals. What makes him versatile is his ability to attack and defend the ball. Manquillo spent the last two with Athetico Madrid. The Spaniard is an attacking full back who will use his speed to his advantage. The drawback of course with young players is their growing pains

Although the core group hasn't changed, Suarez departure is definitely a factor going into the season, and it will be interesting to see what Brendan Rodgers does with his squad.

Burning Question: With the departure of Luis Suarez, how will the Reds manage to replace his offensive touch?


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