Can Liverpool actually thrive this season despite stronger Premier League competition than ever? Here are five reasons why they just might.
Fancy a sneaky bet on Liverpool to finish in the top four? Read this and then head to the bookies...
The new manager 'bounce'
It is one of the reasons why chairmen and owners are so keen to chop and change, a new manager can shake up and refresh the squad and it so often leads to improved results on the pitch. Under Kenny Dalglish the team were stuck in a rut and failed to progress. Brendan Rodgers is a man with a plan and failure is not on his blueprint. Martin O'Neill showed at Sunderland last season the effect a new manager can have on a team, staying unbeaten for more than two months. If Rodgers enjoys a similar 'bounce' it can give Liverpool that oh so elusive good start and set them up for the rest of the campaign.
Possession football at Anfield
Anfield is a tough place for opposing teams to go, or at least it should be. For once it didn't work out like that last season as Dalglish's tactical plan fell apart. Brendan Rodgers meanwhile was busy masterminding some superb team performances at Swansea, who completed more of their passes than anybody else last season, making them difficult to chase in possession. At Liverpool the football should be even more effective, and with the roar of the Anfield crowd behind the home team, the away side will find the stadium a daunting place to go once more.
Low expectation- For once
"It's our year." - Has become the sterotypical cry from the mouths of Liverpool players and supporters over the past decade, but this year nobody is picking Liverpool to win the league, not even the ever-optimistic captain Steven Gerrard. This low expectation may even work in their favour. Many are even tipping Liverpool to struggle to reach the top four, and owner John Henry yesterday declared the task ahead financially to be more daunting than ever. On the pitch they may just throw up a surprise or two and push one or two of the more fancied teams all the way for Champions League qualification.
Questions over their rivals
While Liverpool's summer transfer business has been far from perfect, that of their rivals leaves much to be desired in some cases too. Tottenham for example may have beaten the Reds to Gylfi Sigurdsson, but they remain with just Jermain Defoe as an established striker. How Arsenal will respond to the loss of Van Persie is unpredictable, and they may once again wilt under the intense growing pressure to win a trophy. Chelsea have spent big but whether Roberto di Matteo can gel all the big names and get Fernando Torres firing is another matter. Even if you assume the two Manchester clubs have the top two places wrapped up, third and fourth are still very much attainable if Liverpool stay optimistic and get their act together quickly.
Players with a point to prove
Last season was far from satisfactory for many a Liverpool player, and they will all be looking to bounce back next season individually as well as collectively. Luis Suarez has ended doubts over his future by signing a new contract and will be raring to go after his suspension-affected 2011/12. Both Gerrard and Lucas had injury-hit campaigns last season and will be looking to not only stay fit but stay first choice amid the plentiful competition for places. Then you consider players like Downing, Carroll, and Henderson are playing for their tarnished reputations and even their futures, and the results could just turn out favourably for the club.
What do you think, can Liverpool be this year's surprise package?
image: © Sanjiva