Premier League preview – Liverpool

Last season:

Premier League: 7th

FA Cup: Fourth Round

League Cup: Fourth Round

Europa League: Round of 32

Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez has, unsurprisingly, dominated the headlines as Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool prepare for the upcoming 2013/2014 campaign. The former Ajax star has spent the summer trying to wrangle his way out of a contract with the Anfield outfit – but with fellow Premier League side Arsenal the only team to have launched bids for Suarez, the Reds’ top scorer from last season may just stay put on Merseyside for a while longer.

Although Suarez will be unable to participate in Liverpool’s opening fixtures this term due to a suspension he picked up for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic towards the end of last season, his plans for the future could play a significant role in deciding how far up the table Rodgers’ men finish this campaign. A top four finish and a place in the Champions League is the target – one which would likely be easier to meet should Suarez remain at Anfield for the next year.

But Suarez’s future has not been the only talking point. The departure of popular Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina has caused some controversy, with Liverpool loaning him out to Rafael Benitez’s Napoli for a full season. Reina’s replacement, Simon Mignolet, was signed from Sunderland earlier in the transfer window and Rodgers will be hoping that he made the correct decision in swapping an established stopper in the form of Reina with the Belgian international.

However, there are further concerns over other players and positions ahead of the start of the season. Rodgers was quick to move for Manchester City’s Kolo Toure as a replacement for the retired Jamie Carragher, but with the futures of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates still very much up in the air, there is a feeling that Liverpool could still strengthen at the heart of the defence. Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been a target all summer, but a move has not yet been made for the Greek youngster.

The Reds have also been looking into the possibility of signing a new left-back to provide competition for Jose Enrique. Granada’s Guilherme Siqueira is expected to seal a switch to Merseyside imminently. Meanwhile, Liverpool do not appear to be looking to strengthen in defensive midfield, even though this is an area some supporters feel could do with significant improvement.

Liverpool have, however, added a forward to their ranks with the arrival of Iago Aspas and the new number nine has certainly impressed in pre-season outings. In addition to this, Spanish attacker Luis Alberto, who spent last season on loan at Barcelona B from Sevilla, has also joined the Reds. Reports suggest that the Anfield outfit are still looking into the possibility of making a marquee signing, regardless of whether Suarez stays or leaves. The departures of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing have provided Rodgers with additional funds.

Despite getting some business done early on in the summer, there is a feeling that Liverpool have not yet signed players for positions which desperately need strengthening. Rodgers has two weeks to make the appropriate signings – signings which could play a huge role in determining how successful a season the Reds are to have.

Brendan Rodgers has to deliver more than pretty football this season

Manager – Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool’s silky style of football and an increased number of goals won Brendan Rodgers some new admirers last season, but the Reds’ boss will know further progress must be made if he is to strengthen his bond with the supporters. Better domestic cup runs could help his cause.

Key signing – Simon Mignolet: Replacing the popular Spaniard Pepe Reina with Simon Mignolet was something of a gamble to take in a very important position for Rodgers. The Belgian will be closely watched by fans, and critics will be ready to pounce on the manager if Mignolet fails to adapt to his new surroundings.

Key sale – Jamie Carragher: A retirement rather than a sale, Jamie Carragher’s excellent form last season suggested that the defender could have continued to play for Liverpool for another year, but his retirement has left Rodgers with a huge gap at centre-back, which has been filled by Kolo Toure. Carragher’s attitude, commitment and leadership skills will be sorely missed.

Keep an eye out for… Philippe Coutinho: Attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho put in some stunning performances following his arrival from Inter in January, resulting in shirts with the Brazilian’s name emblazoned on the back selling faster than any other Liverpool star. The youngster promises to be a key player for the Reds this season.

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