It is that time of the year yet again, when you can find Liverpool fans ebulliently partaking in footballing discussions and engaging in hearty banter with the fans of other Premier League clubs, secretly relieved that he won’t have to defend his team’s league form, or lack thereof, for the umpteenth time. It is also that time, when Liverpool supporters from far and wide seem to echo a single note of self-assured authority – “This year is our year.” Unfortunately, that year in question never comes, and in the recent past, the fans have had to fall back on ‘Istanbul’ and ‘five times’ for consolation before long, sometimes as early as November itself. There have been too many false dawns. We have seen the Hodgson era when a title quest was to be led by, apparently, Milan Jovanovic, Paul Konchesky, and Christian Poulsen. They failed. We have seen the Dalglish era, when Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll were supposed to replicate the pairing of Ian Rush and Dalglish, or as some would have it, Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer of the ‘SAS’ fame. They failed. This year, Brendan Rodgers is ready to lead his men into another Premiership campaign. But the question on every fantasy manager’s mind is – “Will they be successful enough to merit investment?” On that note, without further ado, let us embark on the task at hand, analysing Liverpool’s fantasy prospects.
Rodgers will most likely line up in a 4-2-3-1 with a central attacking midfielder. As of now, only Liverpool’s defence looks settled, while the rest of the positions are, quite frankly, anyone’s guess. The most probably lineup, at present, looks like this:
There is a blank position, as you might have noticed. That position is the dodgiest of them all, with several players having claims there, but none quite nailing it down. Stewart Downing can play there, however it looks like that the former Middlesbrough man is out of favour with Rodgers, and thus is not even guaranteed to feature in the squad. Dempsey is a possibility, with many reports linking him to Anfield, however at this point in time, nothing is concrete.
Liverpool have a horrible first six fixtures, perhaps the worst of any PL club. That might be a good thing for fantasy managers, as it gives them time to test the waters, so to speak, before taking a dip. It is very unlikely that anyone will want Liverpool players in their GW1 squad, however, should you want to consider them, the following analysis should help.
No Liverpool defender looks too enticing at present, with Manchester City, Manchester United, and Arsenal facing Liverpool in the opening six fixtures. However, once fixtures ease up and the Liverpool defence merits investment, the option most likely to be considered first is Martin Skrtel. The Slovakian is the joint-cheapest nailed on defender for Liverpool at 6.0, and his penchant for popping up with bullet headers so often is an added bonus. Jose Enrique will also feature in many plans once fixtures ease up, considering the frequency of his marauding runs down the wing.
The Liverpool midfield is a proverbial minefield at present, with no clear idea as to who is nailed on where. However, since early investment is not in the agenda of most managers, one should look out for the gametime of Alberto Aquilani. The former Roma man is thought as an exemplary CM under Rodgers’ system, and if he manages to establish himself in the first team, he could make a mockery of his 6.0 price tag. Steven Gerrard is another option to consider; as one of the members of the erstwhile holy trinity, he can return points at will when he is on song. Doubts however continue to remain over his game time and his ability to nail down an attacking role over a feasible period of time. If, however, the Anfield legend features regularly in the hole, he can produce sizeable returns yet again. Managers will also be well-advised to keep an eye on the Dempsey situation – the American’s arrival could cut down Gerrard’s gametime drastically, and will also make the fringe players like Henderson and Downing less palatable.
The Liverpool line will probably be led by new recruit Fabio Borini, with Andy Carroll looking set to depart Merseyside . Borini is yet untested in the Premier League – during his time with Chelsea, he rarely featured in the Premier League and as such, we cannot draw any conclusions. However he is surely one to watch, a Liverpool attacker at 8.0 is always a bargain if and when they hit some form. Luis Suarez is priced higher, at 9.5, however if he can start doing justice to his enormous potential and replicate the form he has showed with Ajax and the Uruguay national team, he could well waltz his way into many fantasy teams. He is, along with many other Liverpool players, one to monitor.
The Liverpool squad does not look settled at present, and with lots of transfer business still to be done and a tough first six fixtures, the best thing to do would be to approach GW1 without any Liverpool players, and then monitor the going-ons at Anfield before coming to a conclusion regarding the level of investment in Liverpool assets.