What did we learn about Liverpool this weekend?

by Dean Kerry
1. Liverpool are clearly a contender this year

It’s just what all Liverpool fans were hoping for, a solid start to a Premier League season.

With only one defeat in seven games, the reds are sitting pretty as joint leaders of the Premier League and there are heightened levels of optimism and a simmering sense of anticipation of what ‘could be’ this season at Anfield.

The impressive Brendan Rodgers is quietly going about making Liverpool real contenders for the coveted Premier League title. Rodgers has had to show patience in putting together his squad after a number of early season setbacks after rumoured attempts to lure top class players such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian went by the wayside.

The additions of Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Aly Cissokho and Tiago Ilori has significantly strengthened the back line whilst Luis Alberto, Victor Moses and Iago Aspas have added the extra depth of creativity and guile that the reds have been lacking in recent seasons. Liverpool will no doubt strengthen in the January transfer window and they still have the likes of Glen Johnson and Phillipe Coutinho to return to the first team squad after their injury lay offs.

There is no doubt that the discreet tactical changes that Rodgers has made this season has seen Liverpool become a more threatening attacking unit with the club averaging over ten shots at goal per game.

But will this attacking threat be enough come May?

2. In-form strike partnership could be the difference

It is clearly evident that the threat carried by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge is making the reds a feared attacking unit amongst its rivals. Suarez is a proven goalscorer and Sturridge so far looks like he has the potential to notch over 20 goals for the club this season.

There is no doubt that this is still a fledgling partnership, but the signs so far are extremely positive. Sky Sports expert Niall Quinn claimed the reds frontmen had the potential to fire them to the Premier League title, “They [Liverpool] tore Crystal Palace apart at times and there was a telepathic link between Suarez and Sturridge” said the ex Arsenal and Sunderland star, “With these strikers and if they prevent goals from going in the other end, Liverpool can challenge for the title.

In 1995, Blackburn Rovers ended an 81-year wait when Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton fired them to Premier League glory scoring an incredible 49 goals between them, earning them the title of the ‘SAS’. Is it possible that Suarez and Sturridge can do the same and become the modern-day equivalent and lift Liverpool to their first title in 23 years?

3. Mamadou Sakho could prove to be Liverpool’s best signing of the summer

The £18 million pound signing has the potential to play a major role in Liverpool’s bid for success this season.

Sakho, 23, was well-known in France for displaying his leadership skills at a young age and has already won 14 senior international caps. He has also been praised for his “physical and tactical qualities” whilst Reds boss Brendan Rodgers described Sakho recently saying he “looks an absolute monster in training”.

With Liverpool now deploying a three-man central defensive unit, many fans believe that Sakho will be a mainstay at the heart of the Liverpool defence this season and beyond.

There aren’t many teams in the Premier League that can now boast such a raft of central defensive riches wih Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Ahly Cissokho and Tiago Ilori all battling for positions alongside Sakho.

4. Return of King Kenny is a potential masterstroke

The announcement of Kenny Dalglish’s return to the club, as a non-Executive Director, was somewhat of a surprise, but nonetheless could prove to be a shrewd bit of business by principal owner John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group (FSG).

FSG are now showing an acute awareness for the clubs history and traditions by ensuring that fan icons such as Dalglish, who live and breathe the club, are continued to be valued and utilised.

Dalglish left the club in May 2012 under what seemed to be very disappointing circumstances, but his willingness to return shows that whatever was discussed behind closed doors with the owners and then Manager did not have any damaging effect on Dalglish’s love for the club.

This will be a huge lift for not only the young players at the club but also first team regulars such as captain Steven Gerrard who holds Dalglish in high regard describing him as “a hero of mine”.

The appointment of Dalglish follows on from Brendan Rodgers revealing how ex-players Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Rob Jones were now working with the clubs under-21 and under-18 sides adding to the clubs current ‘feel good factor’.

5. John W. Henry and Fenway Sports Group are winning the fans back

The owners have come under significant scrutiny during their two and a half-year tenure as some fans continue to question the financial and emotional commitment to the club.

Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool FC when the club could have easily gone into financial meltdown, what they have done in a two and a half-year period is somewhat miraculous.

The club is now competitive, at the top of the Premier League and have a depth of squad not seen at Anfield for a long time. The owners have backed Brendan Rodgers in his attempts to sign ‘marquee’ players with a willingness to spend substantial amounts of money. The one blot on their copybook is the farcical transfer merry-go-round involving Clint Dempsey, but what a blessing in disguise that has turned out to be.

The upgrade of Anfield’s iconic stadium is now within realistic touching distance after years of false promises by previous owners. FSG have gone about their business in a meticulous way, looking at the best options for the present and also for the financial sustainability of the club, this shows a strategy is in play behind the scenes.

These are not the actions of a money hungry corporate entity trying to make a quick buck, these are actions that will hopefully take Liverpool back to the summit of English football once more and restore the glory days of the distant past. If FSG are successful in their quest they will never walk alone on Merseyside.

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