The majority of Liverpool fans would attest to having had low expectations for the coming season at the tail end of last; a huge Steven Gerrard shaped hole and a final day drubbing at the hands of Stoke City leaving most supporters worrying about just where the club was heading under a beleaguered Brendan Rogers.
However, a few months and a few signings later and things look to be on the up. A list of newcomers including Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner and Danny Ings means that Liverpool and their followers have just about enough reason to look forwards rather than back, and that was always going to be their manager's biggest task in close season.
The versatility that the new signings will provide means that it doesn't even appear vital that Daniel Sturridge be rushed back to full fitness, though it can't be denied that Liverpool will be a more potent force with him in the side.
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Firmino the key?
The key to returning to their goal scoring exploits of 2013/14 could rest with their Brazilian schemer Firmino. Although unlikely to reach double figures himself, his ability to provide strikers with opportunities was literally second to none over the past three seasons in the Bundesliga.
In a league which boasts Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery amongst it's chief chance-makers, that is no mean feat.
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Liverpool's lack of width will need to be compensated for by some imaginative play by the likes of Firmino, Phillipe Coutinho and Adam Lallana who, when starting, may be asked to play as an inside forward. James Milner looks set to be a central midfield starter alongside Jordan Henderson who, as captain, will surely be a mainstay in the side.
Firmino's guile and eye for a pass will be key to Liverpool's forward play, especially if they choose to go with Benteke as a lone striker until Sturridge returns.
Of course, there are still weaknesses in the team. The defence looked porous at times last season, never more so than in that Stoke defeat, and the lack of width leaves question marks over how much joy the likes of Benteke and Ings, if and when he starts, will have in front of goal.
Reasons to be hopeful
The overall feeling for Reds fans must be one of optimism at how quickly and convincingly Rodgers has filled the gaps left by the likes of Gerrard, Rickie Lambert and Raheem Sterling. Mario Balotelli remains a frustrating enigma, however Liverpool's summer business looks so shrewd that even the mercurial Italian has become an after thought rather than a major problem to solve.
With the explosiveness of Benteke, the deft touch of Coutinho and Firmino, and a strong English core to compensate for Gerrard's perhaps premature exit, this season could see Liverpool edging nearer to a place atop their perch than even their fans have recently thought.
Liverpool fans, could the likes of Firmino be the difference for Brendan Rodgers this season? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.
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