Sunday, August 15, 2010

Champions League Hopefuls (Liverpool)

Roy Hodgson and Liverpool seem to have succeeded in their most important summer assignment. That is, Fernando Torres is staying at Anfield.

Let's take a look at Liverpool's likely starting XI.

Pepe Reina in goal is outstanding, they are in trouble if he gets injured though.

Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger are very good in the middle, although Agger is average or below at left-back. Jaime Carragher is awful, I don't know how long Hodgson can keep playing him based on name recognition. Glen Johnson is one dimensional, a threat going forward but terrible defensively. I am not quite sure who will start at left back long term, but they have nothing notable available. They still have Fabio Aurelio and Emiliano Insua on the books, but they have tried to jettison both of them.

Javier Mascherano started in the holding role next to Steven Gerrard against Arsenal, but
Mascherano wants to leave England. I guess Gerrard will keep playing deep, with Lucas or Christian Poulsen next to him. None of these players is a true defensive midfielder
or playmaker. So they will have gotten rid of a class central pairing of Xabi Alonso and Mascherano, with very little to show for it.

The attacking midfielders look pretty good though. Dirk Kuyt does all of the dirty-work. Joe Cole and Ryan Babel will have their moments, and if he can get fit Alberto Aquilani will make a big impression on the Premier League this season. Milan Jovanovic and Maxi Rodriguez will not make a lot of starts, but they are solid.

Young David Ngog scored against Arsenal, and he will have some role to play this season, but he is really a massive drop-off after Torres.

Any depth beyond the players I have mentioned is pretty unremarkable. It just doesn't look like a Champion's League club to me. There are a lot of mediocre players who will be counted on. I think Liverpool will be fighting to hold off neighbors Everton for sixth place.

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