English Premier League Midseason Report: Liverpool

| by World Soccer Reader

Pts: 25 (7-8-4)
Preseason Prediction: 4th
Accuracy: Oops. Double oops.
Preseason overview:
Liverpool should be an interesting tactical experiment under Roy Hodgson. Obviously, in the World Cup, the holding destructive midfielders were all the rage, and were – for the most part – successful. But Hodgson hasn’t played that way in the past, and it will be interesting to see how he handles Javier Mascherano (if he stays) and Lucas. I can’t imagine him playing both at the expense of someone like Alberto Aquilani.
But, last year notwithstanding, that type of thing worked for Rafa Benitez (he did win a European championship for crying out loud). Hodgson has proven he can play pretty good defensive soccer without resorting to mugging, but whether he can keep his team healthy is another question.

Just looking at last season, you could argue that Liverpool might be do a little luck. But look a little further back? Maybe not.

Overview now:
Hodgson has never really figured it out, has he? Obviously, both Mascherano and Aquilani are gone, and it hasn’t really worked for Hodgson anywhere. It should be pointed out, though, that Liverpool are currently 9th, Joe Cole is getting healthy (for how long remains to be seen), and they have been playing fairly well at home, even if the results haven’t quite borne that out.

Of course, with only 5 points away from Anfield, you have to find some positives somewhere, don’t you?

Preseason best new signing:
Joe Cole – Cole’s appearance (in which he scored – granted from a yard out into an empty goal) Saturday was his 10th of the season, and he should provide Liverpool with something. But like a few other players of his ilk, he’s never really healthy for a long period of time, is he? He’s only got the 1 goal and 1 assist, and you hope if you’re a Liverpool fan that the best is yet to come, but who knows?

Preseason key player:
Fernando Torres – He’s been relatively healthy, appearing in 18 of 20 league games, and he does have 6 goals, but he just doesn’t look as dangerous these days. He did score over the weekend against Bolton, and maybe that will spark him. It’s tough with guys like him and Didier Drogba, you can’t afford to take them off because of their goal-scoring ability, but sometimes they just look really poor, like Torres has for much of the season. But if he gets hot, look out.

Key player now:
Steven Gerrard – Raul Meireles got hurt on Sunday, and Gerrard came in midway through the first half, and was – quite simply – the difference in the game. His crosses, his vision were the difference between winning and losing (or winning and drawing). But he’s not always healthy, and he doesn’t always show that kind of form on a consistent basis. Is it too much for him to carry?

Inside the numbers:
24 – Number of players who have appeared in the league for Liverpool this season, as Hodgson keeps trying to figure out what his rotation wants to be. You could argue that he may never figure it out, I guess.

It’s really not as bad as the doom and gloom that many people are making it out to be for Liverpool. They are playing better, have looked fairly solid at home lately, and have the talent. But they’re not headed to the Champions League, and they might not be headed to Europe at all, which is bad enough, I guess.
Prediction: 8th

Read the rest of Ray Curren’s team-by-team midseason review series here