GMS Academy member Danny Smith outlines five reasons why Liverpool may not be quite the package they were this season...
1. The element of surprise is gone
During their 11 game winning run at the back-end of the season Liverpool repeatedly blew teams away who tried to play them on their terms, but Chelsea's 2-0 win at Anfield has pointed the way for anyone looking to cope with the Reds onslaught. Expect more teams to park both buses in front of goal and start time wasting from the second minute next season as they look to block up the supply line to Suarez and Sturridge and wait in hope that Gerrard will afford them a generous slip.
2. Fixture build up
Liverpool played only five cup games in the whole of last season. They will play a minimum of six in the Champions League alone next time and obviously they will be hoping for a lot more. Last summer by far the best business they did in the transfer window was not losing Luis Suarez. This time round the pressure will be on to deliver a substantial increase in both the quantity and quality of the squad if they are going to compete in Europe and sustain a serious title challenge.
3. The opposition will be getting better
Manchester City took just four points from their first six away games last season as Manuel Pellegrini took his time settling into English football. Jose Mourinho spent the whole of the year bemoaning the lack of a world class striker in his squad. And Manchester United, well, where do you start with Manchester United?
Liverpool may come to regret not getting the job done when all the major opposition had reasons to falter. Add in a potentially reinvigorated Arsenal now that they have finally broken their trophy duck and next season it could be a whole lot tougher at the top.
4. The weight of expectation
At the beginning of last season Liverpool fans would have expected to see improvement on the previous campaign and hoped they might finish in the top four. At the start of next season they will be expecting another title challenge and hoping they might just be able to improve on their finish last time out.
The Anfield faithful stood by their team even when the wheels came off against Chelsea and Crystal Palace, recognising what a colossal achievement it had been to even be in that position, but the bar has been raised now and they will expect their team to maintain that level of performance and achievement. The players didn't cope especially well in the final run-in with this increased pressure on them but it will be there from the very start next time out.
5. Getting rid of the hangover
If there are two defining images of Liverpool's title challenge then it's the post-match huddle after the victory over Man City and the sight of Steven Gerrard helping the inconsolable Luis Suarez off the pitch after their capitulation against Crystal Palace. Both showed how much it meant to all the players. Gerrard has proven himself to have pretty broad shoulders over the years but, with his deep ties to the club and the city, to have come so agonisingly close will be a particularly difficult blow for the captain. Under the circumstances the World Cup may actually prove to be a welcome distraction.
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