By Ian Palmer
After battling tooth and nail for the entire 2013/14 English Premier League season, Liverpool had to finally settle for the runners-up position after they finished the campaign two points behind Manchester City. The Merseyside club has struggled this year due to the departure of Uruguayan international striker Luis Suarez and the constant injury problems of English international forward Daniel Sturridge. Suarez was the player of the year in the Premier League last year after leading it in scoring with 31 goals. His partner Sturridge was Liverpool’s second-leading scorer with 21 and the team has had problems finding the net without this duo on the pitch.
bet365 lists Liverpool at 12/1 to take the Europa League, 11/2 to win the League Cup, and 5/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
Suarez is apparently gone for good as he signed with Spanish La Liga club Barcelona during the summer, but Sturridge is scheduled to be back by February after missing most of the season so far. With Liverpool sitting in eighth place in the league with 35 points, the only realistic goals they can achieve this season are a top-four finish and glory in the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup (Capital One Cup). A top-four finish would see them return to the European champions League in 2015/16, which in turn will result in millions of dollars to the club’s bank account.
Liverpool struggled in the Champions League this season and didn’t make it past the group stage which meant they were sent down to the second-tier Europa League. It’s still possible for Liverpool to enjoy an extremely successful campaign as they could conceivably win both domestic cups as well as the Europa League. However, the biggest prize money-wise is earning a berth in the Champions League next season. To do this, they must climb over West Ham, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United in the standings.
Man United is hanging onto the fourth and final Champions League spot with 40 points in the Premier League. However, there’s just five points separating them from eighth place and Liverpool. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said if his quad can finish in the top four he wants to re-sign English international defender Glen Johnson and Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva for next year’s Champions League campaign. Both players are in the last year of their contracts and have been linked with other clubs, but Rodgers insists he wants to re-sign them.
Rodgers will already be without club captain and icon Steven Gerrard as he’s signed a deal with MLS club Los Angeles Galaxy and he believes the younger players need to be guided by veterans such as Johnson and Leiva. But while Rodgers would like to see Johnson and Leiva stay at Anfield, many fans feel it’s time for them to move on. Both players seem to be injury prone and over the past few seasons have almost missed as many games as they’ve played. The fans are especially disappointed in Leiva’s play when he’s healthy, but believe Johnson has added a lot to the squad, but he just can’t stay healthy.