Football

Can Liverpool win the Premier League title?

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Is Rodgers the man to turn things around at Anfield? (©GettyImages)
Is Rodgers the man to turn things around at Anfield? (©GettyImages).

Manchester City claimed their first English title for 44 years after Sergio Aguero's last-gasp winner secured the club's first Premier League crown from under the noses of arch-rivals Manchester United, on a dramatic final day of 2011/12.

Separated only by goal difference, the two-horse race gripped fans all over the world, celebrating the competition's 20th year in scintillating style.

Now, with the start of the 2012/13 campaign less than a week away, GiveMeFootball assesses the title credentials of the top six contenders in the Premier League this year...

LIVERPOOL

Liverpool's decision to sack club legend Kenny Dalglish in favour of a relatively unproven coach, Brendan Rodgers, also shows a conscious change of direction for one of the Premier League's elite. After a prolonged period of underachievement, Anfield owners Fenway Sports Group are looking to bring the good times back to Merseyside.

The feeling is that the club is heading down the right path, with the former Swansea boss renowned for a compelling, easy on the eye, tiki taka style that will be sure to appease Liverpool fans.

Such sweeping changes take time, though, and expectations should not be too high. Providing Rodgers isn't burdened by the need for an immediate impact, he has the potential to succeed.

More consistent performances in the Premier League is a necessity, and the club will also keep their hand in European competition with Europa League inclusion, as long as they get through their play-off with Hearts later this month.

Rodgers will have to be clever with his squad rotation to ensure Liverpool's European commitments don't impact negatively on their bread and butter domestic campaign, with Champions League qualification the number one target.

Prediction: 5th

ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger has already warned Arsenal's main Premier League rivals that his squad will be genuine title contenders this season, but the accuracy of that statement surely depends on whether or not the club can keep hold of influential captain Robin van Persie.

The want-away striker, who scored 30 league goals last campaign to claim the Golden Boot, has expressed his desire to leave north London in search of trophies.

Despite recruiting well over the summer, with the exciting addition of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, Wenger has been unable to convince Van Persie that the Gunners will be in the mix-up come May, even if on paper it appears to be the club's best chance of ending its seven-year trophy drought.

Arsenal were not only weakened by the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri last summer, but their early season form was also affected by the disruptive transfer window which saw a late flurry of activity. 12 months on and the frugal Frenchman has got his business done early, and hopefully that will help the players to find their feet quickly in 2012/13.

Prediction: 4th

CHELSEA

Chelsea have undergone a major recruitment drive this summer, as Roman Abramovich looks to capitalise on the club's Champions League final success last term.

Roberto Di Matteo, now the full-time Blues boss, will have an opportunity to stamp his own authority on the squad, and has wasted no time in strengthening with attacking midfield additions like Marko Marin, Eden Hazard and Oscar, who lit up the Olympics with Brazil.

The departure of Didier Drogba will leave a huge hole in Chelsea's forward line, with £50million man Fernando Torres expected to step up and fill the void, finally proving his worth at Stamford Bridge.

The arrival of a number of quick, nimble players, suggests that Chelsea will change their style of play, trying to emulate Barcelona's fluid, free-flowing football - a far cry from what brought the club FA Cup and European success last season.

If Di Matteo can successfully integrate the new approach, the reigning European champions could be dark horses for domestic glory.

Prediction: 3rd

MANCHESTER CITY

Roberto Mancini's relative inactivity in the summer transfer market highlights the strength of the Manchester City squad. The reigning Premier League champions have so far added only Jack Rodwell to their star-studded line-up, but if reports are to be believed, his arrival could soon be followed by Liverpool defender Daniel Agger.

Despite not yet making any marquee signings, City boast a wealth of world-class talent - David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, as well as the returning Carlos Tevez. The Argentine duo could form a formidable partnership in attack, and will play a pivotal part in helping the club to retain the title.

Joe Hart is the last line of a very well-organised defence, marshalled by influential captain Vincent Kompany, who seems to get better with every game. If success is supposedly built from the back, then the Citizens can look forward to a triumphant future.

Prediction: 1st

MANCHESTER UNITED

Sir Alex Ferguson knew he needed to strengthen his Manchester United squad ahead of the new season, and he has done just that. Securing the signature of want-away Arsenal captain Robin van Persie could prove to be the difference between winning and losing the title, but whatever the outcome, the Red Devils still have plenty of reason for optimism.

Even if they don't land last season's Golden Boot winner, United still have Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in attack, with a midfield supply line from wingers Ashley Young and Luis Nani.

Throw into the mix the addition of creative midfielder Shinji Kagawa - the 23-year-old Japanese international, signed from Borussia Dortmund - and it's clear they'll have no shortage of flair, or threat in the final third. United, as always, will be a big force.

Prediction: 2nd

TOTTENHAM

Tottenham have made a change in the managerial department, with former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas replacing Harry Redknapp in the White Hart Lane dugout.

The suggestion is that Spurs will need a period of transition, particularly following the retirement of club captain Ledley King, and the impending departure of Luka Modric, but the gamble taken by chairman Daniel Levy could pay off.

Spurs have made positive additions with the capture of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen, and will be pushing for Champions League qualification next term, after missing out this year, despite finishing fourth in 2011/12.

As the deal for the permanent signing of last season's loanee Emmanuel Adebayor continues to stumble, attacking reinforcements remain a priority for Villas-Boas. A headline signing will help restore faith in the club's ability to continue challenging in the higher echelons of the Premier League.

Prediction: 6th

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool
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