By William Sired @William_Sired
The top Four is something every Liverpool fan, including myself yearns for, and a competition we have been out of for too many years now. Apart from the obvious fact that it helps the club attract the best players, it also sets up opportunities to play huge teams such as Barcelona, Madrid and Bayern etc. Match ups against these teams will no doubt create more famous European nights at Anfield, another aspect of the game that has been sorely missed by any Liverpool fan.
The question is, could this be the year we finally manage to pip both Arsenal and Tottenham to the post? In previous years I have been secretly sceptical about our chances due to our lack of squad depth and class signings that any teams needs to get enough points to enter the top four. Lets be honest, signings like Andy Carroll, Downing, Poulsen and Konchesky were never going to be the signings that would launch us into the champions league, they didn’t have the quality or class, or consistency, or in some cases basic ability that is required for a champions league team.
However, our signings in recent years and months have provided my self and many other supporters with fair optimism for the upcoming season and campaign to qualify for the champions league. Countinho, if you hadn’t already realised, is clearly a gifted, champions league quality footballer who simply needed the playing time and the English game to release his talent on the pitch, and at the Bargain price of £8.5m. If Coutinho continues to provide his magical threw balls to the ever improving Sturridge through out the season we will have a real attack force, along with Suarez, need I mention his talent?, capable of scoring enough goals, providing enough opportunities and winning enough games that will give us a real chance of qualifying within the top four this season.
Its all very well having a strong attack, but having this with a weak defence is completely pointless. Again this is an area which I feel recent signings have hugely improved, with Kolo Toure’s experience, Aggers leaderships, mixed with Enrique and Johnsons speed and attacking ability, we now have a real mix to establish a strong defence that will hopefully reduce errors that have cost us points at the likes the Etihad against Man City, as well as at Anfield against the same opponents the same season, which ultimately cost us fourth position. And Mignolet, if his first two games are anything to go by, looks like he will be that safety net any team needs to get to the champions league, and hopefully wont be prone to the errors Reina was in these last few seasons.
Compared to our top four rivals, Tottenham, and Arsenal, we have without a doubt caught them up in terms of ability and squad depth. Tottenham I fear are now the strongest team to challenge for that fourth spot, due to signings like, Lamela, Soldado, and now Christian Eriksen, where as Arsenal have signed, well, Sanogo and Flamini both on a free, with neither reeking with quality. I genuinely believe our squad is a strong if not stronger than Arsenals, Aside from Jack Wilshere and Possibly Walcott on the wing, I wouldn’t take any of their first team players into Liverpool’s first XI. And I suppose I have to give Everton a mention, although i’m convinced there squad is not strong enough to get into the top 5 never mind top 4. There two best players look to be off to Man Utd and some point in this window, and Roberto Martinez is hardly the experienced manager to lead them to a top four finish.
Along with our imminent signings of Sakho and Tiago Ilori, and hopefully another attacking player to cope with potentially injuries, our squad now looks champions league-esc, which has the ability as proven in the Aston Villa to grind out results even when not at our best, something we have deeply struggled with in previous seasons. I find nothing more frustrating than watching Liverpool absolutely crush teams, having 15+ shots on target, and then conceding two goals in the last ten minutes after the opposing team had two shots the entire game. I wonder if anyone remembers the game against West Brom last season? Personally that physically hurt me
I hope the rest of you share my optimism for our chase for a top four spot, all depending of course if Suarez stays and we make a few more quality signings, if these criteria are met, I feel we can take points off of anyone in the league this season.