Liverpool FC: 5 Questions Facing the Team Before Their 2011-12 Season Opener
Liverpool Football Club have had an active summer, with five major signings and quite a few players being shown the door. It all comes down to this.
In just a few hours, Liverpool kick off their 2011/2012 season with a tricky home tie with Sunderland.
Of course, no Premier League match comes without its fair share of preparation. Before each game, manager Kenny Dalglish and his team of coaches anticipate and go over every little possibility of potential game scenarios.
Here are the top five questions Liverpool management will have ti ask themselves in the days heading up to this fixture. They are ranked on the level of head-scratchingness.
5. What Do You Expect from Sunderland?
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At the end of last season, Liverpool beat Sunderland comfortably at the Stadium of Light. This transfer season, however, Steve Bruce has gone out and made significant improvements to a team that finished a respectable 10th last season.
Connor Wickham, Sebastian Larsson, Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Craig Gardner are only a few of the names that come in, with Jordan Henderson being the only significant loss.
They have also impressed during preseason, winning five out of nine games with only two losses.
For Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool, it is really impossible to predict what team and tactics Sunderland might throw at them. All of a sudden, they look really strong. Even with O'Shea on the sidelines, Liverpool cannot get complacent. It is important to get off to a winning start.
4. Where Does Martin Kelly Play?
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Martin Kelly's versatility as a defender makes him an incredibly valuable player for the Reds. He has been ready for starting XI action for awhile and it will be hard for Kenny Dalglish to leave him out of the defense.
The four defensive spots are likely to be selected from five players: Jose Enrique, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger.
Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson will almost certainly take the two full back spots, but if either isn't ready to go, then Kelly will play. Agger will definitely play as one of the centre-backs, with Carragher likely to take the other.
If all four regulars are 100 percent, then they will play, but I think Kelly could feature in the opener.
3. Will Jose Enrique Be Ready?
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Jose Enrique completed his £6 million transfer to Liverpool on Friday morning, but questions remain whether or not he'll be familiar enough with the system to step right into action.
It could be a risk to play a player in such an important position barely 24 hours after completing the transfer.
No doubt Enrique is a great buy; you just have to ask yourself whether it's the right decision to throw him straight in at the deep end.
It might be better to go with Fabio Aurelio or Jack Robinson for the first match.
2. Is Luis Suarez Fit?
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After a terrific performance in the 2011 Copa America, leading Uruguay to tournament triumph as the most valuable player, Suarez comes back to Merseyside barely having had any break.
Would it really be a huge deal for Liverpool to give Suarez another week of rest to avoid any unnecessary injury? I mean, it's not like there aren't enough good enough backups and he is, after all, the team's most important player.
Dalglish would be well advised to move to a five midfielder system for the season opener.
1. Who Starts in Midfield?
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It is no secret that Liverpool have a plethora of midfielders at their disposal. Many managers would kill for Liverpool's reserve players. This creates a problem, albeit a good one, as to who will and will not play.
When Luis Suarez is completely fit, Liverpool will likely play him up front with Carroll in a two attacker system. If he isn't ready, they could well go with a five-man midfield.
In my opinion, if Liverpool go with two centre-midfielders, they should go with Charlie Adam and Alberto Aquilani. The two displayed some great chemistry in preseason and you get a relatively good mix of attacking and defense.
With Gerrard injured, the backups will be Jordan Henderson, Raul Meireles and Lucas. If they go with a five midfield system, Lucas can slot in behind the other two, allowing Aquilani to perhaps be a little more offensive.
Whatever happens, the midfield will be very, very strong for Liverpool.