Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
The Premier League is back and the excitement up and down the country is palpable as the battle for supremacy begins once more.
It has been a summer full of activity and perhaps the biggest story of the lot was the £75 million sale of renegade striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona. The Reds reluctantly had to accept that the Uruguayan had no future to play at Anfield and many believe this departure will condemn Brendan Rodgers’ men to failure in 2014/15.
However, last year’s Premier League runners-up still have plenty of reason to be optimistic as they bid for both domestic and continental success.
Here’s five reasons why we think Liverpool can cope with the loss:
1) The New SAS
The summer sale of Suarez brought an abrupt end to the deadly partnership of Suarez and Sturridge, but in Raheem Sterling they have a ready replacement to help dig the Reds out of any tricky situations which may arise during the campaign.
Suarez and Sturridge formed a formidable partnership in 2013/14, hitting an incredible 52 goals between them. With the talisman gone, the England striker now has an even more significant role to play for the Anfield giants but the initial indications are that he is more than ready to step into that role.
It may have been a fairly average performance from Sturridge but he was in the right place to net the crucial winner and the ability to grab the headlines when not at his scintillating best could be a key facet to helping Liverpool in their quest for continued success.
Meanwhile, Sterling really hit the ground running and his first-half opener was just one in a string of promising moments from the game’s Man of the Match.
If the new SAS live up to the glory of last year’s then Reds fans might not have to shed too many tears over the loss of Suarez.
2) Previous Experience
Whilst the win against Southampton is an achievement in itself, it is well worth noting that this isn’t the first time that the Reds have had to deal without Suarez.
The Uruguayan missed the opening five games in 2013/14 as he served out the remainder of a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Liverpool dealt with that particular absence in particularly strong fashion, with Sturridge emerging as a prolific finisher. There is no reason to believe that the Reds cannot continue to cope without their former hero in the coming season.
As phenomenal as he was at Anfield, Suarez was just one member of an extremely talented team and no one player is bigger than the club. The growth of several young players, including both Sturridge and Sterling, should reassure Reds fans as they bid to retain their top four status in 2014/15.
3) Added Depth
In an ideal world the Reds would have loved to have kept Suarez at Anfield. However, it was essential that they didn’t let the 27-year-old’s departure disrupt their progress. Fortunately, the owners have allowed Rodgers to reinvest the money attained from the Uruguayan’s sale, sanctioning a number of summer purchases to help bolster the Liverpool squad.
As well as the well documented acquisitions from Southampton, Rodgers has added Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Divock Origi and Alberto Moreno to his team and those extra options will help spur them on throughout the coming campaign.
During a post-match press conference following the win over Saints, Rodgers declared that Liverpool haven’t yet concluded their business and we could see further activity between now and the September 1 deadline.
4) Champions League Football
Some sources have claimed that the distraction of continental football could hinder Liverpool’s progress, but their return to Europe’s elite club competition could actually serve as a huge boost to everyone at Anfield.
A prolonged run in the Champions League would help galvanise the club and further the belief that they can return to the summit of English and European football. Meanwhile, the midweek fixtures will offer temporary rest bites from the arduous slog of a Premier League campaign.
The likes of Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan, Sterling and Sturridge will all become better players for playing in this competition and that can only serve as a positive for both Liverpool and England not only for 2014/15 but also for years to come.
Anfield is one of the world’s most iconic stadiums and the city thrives on huge European nights. The return to Champions League football can only be good for the Reds.
5) Gerrard’s Leadership
Despite the loss of Suarez, Liverpool are still a team brimming with talented stars. However, they need someone to guide them and the partnership of Rodgers and Steven Gerrard can inspire them to success.
Long-serving skipper Gerrard has pretty much seen it all during his time with Liverpool and is the living, breathing epitome of the great club. The 34-year-old leads by example in his own individual performances and is also the perfect vent to relay the manager’s instructions to the team.
The lack of a Premier League winners’ medal should not detract from what an incredible player Gerrard has been. After going so close to completing his individual trophy cabinet last term, he’ll be doubly determined to grab the perfect end to a glittering career in 2014/15.
Having seen Liverpool slump to ‘also ran’ status in recent years, Gerrard will be desperate to ensure his beloved Reds avoid succumbing to the same fate. Last season saw the Merseyside giants return to the forefront of English football and with Gerrard wearing the armband they’ve got every chance of remaining there.
Adjusting to life without Luis will be an immensely difficult challenge, but Liverpool have all the credentials to pass that test with flying colours.
Can Liverpool challenge for the title again in 2014/15? Post your thoughts in the comments