Most bookmakers including Freebetsodds have Liverpool down to finish fifth in the 2015-16 Premier League season in their pre-season football odds ahead of this summer’s transfer window. It’s a somewhat generous assessment as looking at the way Brendan Rodgers’ side finished last season there’s plenty of room for improvement if they’re to overturn the eight-point gap between them and Champions League football.
After a slow start to the 2014-15 campaign, the Northern Irishman largely stuck to his 3-4-3 formation that initially had success but there’s plenty of room for improvement all over the pitch.
Liverpool will need signings, a smarter tactical approach to games and better luck with injuries – although it must be said that top teams generally win despite injuries, not lose because of them.
Simon Mignolet missed out on tying Joe Hart for the Premier League Golden Glove award for most clean sheets because they only count 90 minutes as a clean sheet (he played 74 minutes in conceding zero at Burnley on Boxing Day).
The Belgian goalkeeper put in a string of solid performances at the turn of the year after he was briefly dropped by his manager. However, Liverpool remain strongly linked with a number of goalkeepers including Petr Cech, suggesting that Rodgers also sees there’s room for improvement between the sticks. Failing to keep a clean sheet in any of his last five games won’t help the 27-year-old’s cause.
Many considered Liverpool’s failure to win the 2013-14 Premier League coming down to their defence. When the side scored 101 goals they also conceded 50 – no team has ever allowed that many and won the Premier League.
Big money was spent last summer on Dejan Lovren whilst changes were also made with Emre Can and Alberto Moreno arriving, as well as Javier Manquillo on a two-year loan. On paper, and based on their performances – there’s still plenty of room for improvement here, regardless of whether Rodgers plays a back three of back four. Investment needs to be made in defence if the Reds are to compete with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United for a top four finish in 2015-16.
Jordan Henderson proved he can be a leader in the centre of the park, chipping in with a fair few goals and assists too. Alongside him, Liverpool have good protection in the centre when Lucas is fit. The wing back system didn’t prove to be great defensively though – Alberto Moreno getting caught out of position on the left and not protecting Mamadou Sakho well enough, and neither Lazar Markovic or Jordon Ibe showed defensive instinctive last season.
Should Brendan Rodgers utilise the 3-4-3 formation again next season there is certainly room for improvement defensively down the flanks. Dani Alves has been linked and would be a great acquisition but one has to feel the lack of Champions League football will prevent the Merseyside club from having a shot at landing the Barcelona star.
Daniel Sturridge’s fitness has been one huge concern over recent months as Liverpool appear to be in the market for a new striker this summer. Offloading Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini is another task as none of them looked top four quality last season.
Down the flanks, both Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling are certainly good enough to help the team push for Champions League football, although the latter has said he has no plans to stay at Anfield beyond the remaining two years of his current contract. Jordon Ibe looks like a potential replacement here, but landing another central striker may be Rodgers’ big aim this summer, unless he has faith in Sturridge to remain fit once he returns in September, but that’s anyone’s guess.