Merseyside Champs?: Liverpool Look to Build on Strong Start

Nathan CliftonCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2007

IconLiverpool don't usually start well.

This season, though, is a different matter.

Djibril Cisse, Florent Sinama Pongolle, and Neil Mellor are out, and the club's opening day victory at Aston Villa got them off on the right foot.

They haven't looked back since.

Liverpool dropped points at home to Chelsea, but a steady performance at Sunderland produced a 2-0 win courtesy of Momo Sissoko and Andriy Voronin.

That victory was followed by a 6-0 destruction of Derby at Anfield, with goals from Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Ryan Babel, and Voronin.

Notice the variation of the scorers.

Goals are coming from all over the field, which takes pressure off the strikers. Torres, Voronin, Peter Crouch, and Dirk Kuyt are expected to score, as is Steven Gerrard, but they certainly don't mind the help.

The Liverpool defense is stalwart. The acquisition of Pepe Reina did no harm, nor did the emergence of Daniel Agger alongside the world-class Jamie Carragher.

Last season, the club only conceded 27 EPL goals; the season before it was 25. This year, they might be even better—Liverpool have only been scored upon twice in their first four games.

Of course, the competition hasn't exactly been fierce, which is why Liverpool fans shouldn't be getting carried away just yet.

Yes, they have played Chelsea, but they'll face sterner tests down the road. This weekend's game against a resurgent Portsmouth side, for example, promises to be a battle.

In any event, Liverpool's strength is its depth.

Up front, Voronin and Torres have led the way with three and four goals, respectively. Kuyt is off to something of a slow start, but he promises to get better. Crouch, unfortunately, has been reduced to a squad player—but 12 goals in 21 international appearances tells its own story.

The midfield is also strong, with Babel and Jermaine Pennant anchoring the centre, and Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, and Javier Mascherano giving Rafael Benitez a wealth of talent to work with.

Defensively, Benitez can partner Carragher with either Agger or Sami Hyypia. Fullbacks Alvaro Arbeloa, John Arne Riise, Steve Finnan, and Fabio Aurelio are all viable options.

The best thing about the majority of Liverpool's midfielders and defenders is their versatility. For example, you can expect Riise to play some games on the left side of the midfield this season, and Arbeloa to play all across the back line.

All in all, it's shaping to be Liverpool's greatest EPL season in recent memory, and the club also look well-suited for a Champions League run.

We'll see if it all adds up to any silverware for the Red half of Merseyside...