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Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Liverpool Can Win the League and the Statistics that Rival Teams Should Fear

There seems to be a general consensus among football pundits that Liverpool will do no better than finishing fourth this season, with Arsenal being considered the most likely to surrender their top four status.

Almost everyone seems to be tipping Manchester United to defend the premier league title, with either Manchester City or Chelsea pouncing if the Red Devils falter. Arsenal has been written off, and rightfully so considering that they certainly have lost two of their best players in Samir Nasri, who is heading to Manchester City, and Cesc Fabregas who will finally be going back to his boyhood club, Barcelona.

Tottenham on the other hand have always been seen as a team that is capable of disrupting the top four order but never getting close to even second position. So this leaves Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City as the teams who could take the battle for the premiership honours to the wire.

Manchester United has not been shy of splashing the cash to strengthen their squad. Twenty-year-old former Atletico Madrid custodian David De Gea has been bought in replacement of the retired Edwin Van Der Sar while Ashley Young and Phil Jones also signed for the Red Devils. The arrival of a new midfielder to fill the boots of retired Paul Scholes still remains a priority for Sir Alex Fergusson and Wesley Sneijder’s name keeps doing rounds across the media. Cash-rich Manchester City have strengthened their squad with the acquisition of leftback Gael Clichy, Stefan Savic and Sergio Aguero who is expected to fill the boots of the wantaway Carlos Tevez. More signings await.

Chelsea have surprisingly been quite in the transfer market thus far with only the arrival of new boss Andre Villas-Boas and young striker Romelu Lukaku causing stirs at Stamford Bridge. Their pursuit of Tottenham’s Luca Modric seems to have hit a snag but expect the Blues to add more signings to their ranks. Arsenal have again been shy of spending with only Gervinho and youngster Alex Oxlade Chamberlin arriving at the Emirates. Juan Mata, Scott Dann, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill are all being monitored by Wenger and expect one of them to arrive at the Emirates before the transfer window closes.

Liverpool has been the most active team in the transfer window. They have brought in Jordan Henderson from Sunderland, Charlie Adam from Blackpool, backup keeper Alexander Doni,  and Stewart Downing, the man who is expected to whip the crosses into Andy Caroll’s head this season. Jose Enrique will also fill in the leftback position that has been a nightmare for the Merseyside club since the departure of John Arne Riise in 2008. The duly capable but injury-prone Fabio Aurelio will provide the necessary backup in that position.

Looking at Liverpool’s squad, you wonder why Dalglish’s side are being written off.

Goalkeeping – Reina, Doni
Starting with the goalkeeping position, Pepe Reina is one of the best goalkeepers in world football and undoubtedly the best in the premier league. In him, Liverpool are in safe hands and in Alexander Doni, they have a capable back up on the bench.

Left-back – Enrique, Aurelio, Robinson
The arrival of Jose Enrique solves the left-back problem. The Spaniard is one of the best left-backs in world football. He is very hard to beat (happened only 9 times last season, compared to Ashley Cole (38), Clichy (26), Baines (24), Evra (23) and his pace and linkup with the equally speedy Stewart Downing will trouble opposition defences. Fabio Aurelio is a Brazilian by nationality and touch in football. If he stays injury free, he is a player capable of putting Enrique to the bench while Young Jack Robinson will be third choice.
Right-back – Glen, Kelly, Flanagan
The right-back position is also sort. Glen Johnson has made the position his own over the last few seasons but the emergence of Martin Kelly should have the former Portsmouth man worried. John Flannagan impressed when called upon last season and he will calmly slot in if any or both of the aforementioned two underperform or suffer injuries
Center-back – Carragher, Agger, Skytel, Dann/Cahill
The center-back position is considered as Liverpool’s Achilles heel. Jamie Carragher is a dream team center-back but at 33-years, he has lost some pace. However, his experience, organization and leadership is still needed at the back but not always. Daniel Agger is an exciting player but he spends most of his time on the treatment table. Should he stay fit, the Dane will provide a good cover and add some attacking instinct from the back. Martin Skytel played in all the 38 games for Liverpool last season but he’s not entirely reliable. Adding Scott Dann or Bolton’s Gary Cahill will make the L4 club’s defence almost impregnable.
Midfield -  Gerard, Adam, Aquilani, Meireles, Lucas, Spearing, Jonjo
Liverpool’s  midfield position is gushing with talent. Tell me any club where you would find the likes of Steven Gerrard, Charlie Adam, Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson, Alberto Aquilani and Raul Meireles all fighting to be in the squad. I stand to be corrected but I believe Liverpool have the strongest midfield in the world, both in strength and depth. Enough said.
Wing – Kuyt, Maxi, Cole, Downing
Both the right and left wings are properly covered. Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Joe Cole (if not sold or loaned out) and Stewart Downing are all able to provide service from the left. Steven Gerard, Raul Meireles and Jordan Henderson can all play the offensive wing position when called upon.
Forward – Luis Suarez, Andy Caroll, (New Striker), Dirk Kuyt
With Luis Suarez and Andy Caroll upfront, there seems to be consensus that Liverpool will score goals for fun. David Ngog will be shipped out (to Bolton it looks likely) and another backup striker will surely arrive at Anfield before the transfer windows shuts. And lest we forget that the Dutch workhorse, Dirk Kuyt is, with all intents and purposes, a striker.

Well, there you have it. If the likelihood of facing such a team doesn’t cause shivers in your system, your club must be the best in the world, better than Barcelona, and Man Utd, the defending premier league champions aren’t. LFC have bought players, very good players who all have a role and a gap to fill, there is more football than there’s boardroom politics, a King, an icon, a club legend is in charge, confidence and feel-good-factor is back, the fans are more optimistic, the club is stable, the players are upbeat and with no pressure to deliver the title, the youth set up is one of the best in the world and there are no Mario Balottelis or Carlos Tevez’s in the squad. And you tell me Liverpool can’t win the premier league title. Really?

Some Statistics to Feed on
LFC's player of the Year - Lucas Leiva
Sunderland's young Player of the Year - Jordan Henderson
Newcastle United's Player of the Year - Jose Enrique
Aston Villa's Player of the Year - Stewart Downing
Juventus Player of The Year - Alberto Aquilani
Copa America's Best Player - Luis Suarez
And That's thesteifmastertake!!