After Monday evening’s thrilling game of football at the KC, which we should have nicked at the death, served as an entertaining appetizer to a much tougher proposition at Upton Park. Liverpool haven’t had the best start to the season but with the attacking players they’ve brought in they’ll be a tough opposition considering our frailty at the back recently. I got to ask the guys at www.liverpoolway.co.uk – @theliverpoolway – a few questions going into our late kick-off match on Saturday. As always a big thank you and shout out to them for getting involved.
You’ve won 2, lost 2, of your opening 4 games in the Premier League. Is this a good enough start?
Not really, but if you switch the Villa loss with the win at Spurs then it would have been a little bit more palatable I suppose. Losing at home to Villa isn’t what you’d expect from a side with title aspirations though, but then City were beaten at home by Stoke and you do often get strange results early in the season. The performances have been more alarming than the results really, as with so many new players in the side last season’s brilliant form seems a distant memory.
As you’ve just had your return to the Champions League earlier this week, how big a boost is it to Liverpool and the fans to be back in the competition?
It’s nice to be back in there of course, but there was something to be said for not being in it and being able to concentrate on the league. The great run last season wouldn’t have happened if we’d had to deal with Champions League fixtures too, and the fear is that our league form may suffer this season due to the extra workload and distraction of the CL. It’s fine if you win the thing like we did in ’05 – nobody cared about finishing 5th as we were European Champions – but if you lose in the quarters and then miss out on a top four spot as a result of losing focus on the league, that’s no good to anyone.
As a club Liverpool need to be in there though, the financial implications alone are huge but there’s also the necessity to keep the players you have happy by being able to play at the top level in Europe, and of course it helps when recruiting new players. From a fans perspective though the biggest highlight is having European nights back at Anfield as they’re always something special.
How do you feel Liverpool did in the Transfer Window, and how do you like the look of your squad versus last season?
The squad is very much improved on last season, but the first eleven obviously isn’t as there’s one glaring omission from it this season. Overall we did pretty well all things considered. You’re never going to replace Luis Suarez like for like, but we’ve brought in some good players and have much more depth now. The problem with that is having more players gives the manager more scope to make changes, some of which are not always necessary.
What did you make of West Ham’s Transfer Window dealings?
I don’t know a great deal about some of the players you brought in, but I’m told a couple of them looked really good against Hull the other night. I didn’t watch the game so can’t really elaborate on that further. It was clear to everyone last season though that you had nothing up front without Big Andy, so if you have managed to improve in that area you should have a better season than last time.
As they went for the same price; deadly serious question, would you rather Welbeck or Balotelli for £16million?
I’d rather have Balotelli because if he gets his head right he’ll be a far better player than Welbeck. That said, I do think Welbeck is a better player than he’s given credit for and he’s a good acquisition for Arsenal as he’s ten times the player Yaya Sanogo is. Mind you, so am I.
Jordan Henderson has just been announced to be the Vice-Captain of the club. Whilst I didn’t see the point of the media making it such a big deal; is this a sign of Rodgers trying to prep Henderson to be ready to step-up (albeit not positionally) when Liverpool enter their post-Gerrard phase?
Possibly, but I think it was more about us needing to appoint somebody after Daniel Agger left. Henderson was by far and away the most logical choice for a number of reasons. Whether that means he’ll eventually succeed Gerrard as skipper though is another matter as a lot can happen in that time.
On that note, just how much more do you think Gerrard has left in the tank to keep going at the top level of the PL/CL?
At least another two years if he avoids injury. His current role is not overly demanding in terms of running, and having the likes of Henderson and Joe Allen in there with him helps a great deal as they have boundless energy and can press the ball really well. That leaves Gerrard to sit in front of the back four and not have to go chasing around too much.
Where do you think Liverpool’s strengths and weaknesses will lie this season?
The weakness is the defence once again. We’ve spent almost £40m on two new centre backs who are probably not an upgrade on Skrtel and Agger. It’s still early days for Dejan Lovren, and even Sakho is still settling in despite having been here a year, but unless they start showing signs of improvement then Liverpool’s defence might actually be worse than last year.
As for strengths, well despite losing Suarez we should still be able to score plenty of goals, but for that to happen we need Sturridge back as soon as possible as we have too many new players trying to find their feet at the same time. Balotelli, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana are all talented, but it’s asking a lot to throw them in and expect them to play at the level of Liverpool’s forward line last season.
If you could pick one West Ham player to play for Liverpool who would you pick and why?
Got any centre halves that aren’t prone to making one costly error per game? If so then I’ll take him!
A successful season for Liverpool would be…?
A trophy of some sort and a top four spot. Had we kept hold of Suarez then I honestly think we’d have won the title, but as things stand I’d settle for fourth here and now.
What’s your prediction for the match?
Well we definitely won’t keep a clean sheet I can tell you that much. Other than that I really have no idea at all because there’s so much uncertainty with us at the moment. If Rodgers plays two up front (which he should, as we’ve looked awful this season whenever we haven’t) then I’m confident we’ll win. If Sturridge is fit then again, I’d be confident of a win (although I think this game might be a week early for him). If there’s no Sturridge and we play 4-3-3 again then I fear the worst.