This is the third in a series of previews of Fulham's opponents in the English Premier League. Liverpool is a legendary football club in England and around the world. The club resides in Liverpool England. They play their matches at Anfield. The capacity is over 45,000. This club also has an extremely loyal fan base.
They have won the European Cup and UEFA Champions League five times. Before there was an English Premier League, the top league in England was the First Division. Liverpool have won the Football League First Division eighteen times. The history of Liverpool is incredible.
However, Liverpool have never won the English Premier League. The first year of the EPL was the 1992 - 1993 season. They have come very close. Most recently in the 2008 - 2009 season Liverpool were runner ups to Manchester United. Last season was a disappointing one for Liverpool standards. They finished seventh in the Premier League and will be participating in the Europa League.
Changes are now in the air at Anfield this season. Rafa Benitez has been replaced by former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. There is also the financial situation with the current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. They have put the club up for sale.
On the positive, Liverpool still have a good amount of world class players. Players to watch include Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, and Dirk Kuyt. The question is what type of club will Liverpool have this season?
To help me with that question I think I have the right person to help. Richard Buxton has been covering Liverpool for around 3 years now with various fan sites. He has been the Liverpool Football Club Correspondent with Click Liverpool for almost a year. His role consists of reporting news on a daily basis, attending press conferences at Melwood and filing match reports, usually from the Anfield press box. Mr. Buxton was also at the Europa League Final between Fulham and Atletico Madrid.
I had the pleasure of asking him several questions regarding the upcoming season for Liverpool. I thought he would be the perfect person to shed some light on the current state of Livepool. Below is my Q & A with Richard Buxton of Click Liverpool.
Q: Do you have concerns about the ownership situation going into this season?
Q: What has been your first impression of new manager Roy Hodgson?
In a word, impressed. A lot of fans were sceptical to his appointment but in little over five weeks he has dispelled all the myths that he has come to the club to be a yes man.
His honesty has been refreshing after seeing Liverpool's previous manager spending the past three years fighting a war against the media and the board that he was ultimately never going to win.
Rafael Benitez deserves a lot of credit for what he accomplished at Anfield and being the one who identified three of Liverpool's summer signings before he left the club, but Hodgson has to take a bow for convincing Joe Cole to join, which was a massive coup.
I've heard nothing but good things about his training methods and the players seem to be enjoying it immensely. Before the return leg with FK Rabotnicki, the media got a short glimpse of the team preparing and there's definitely more of an emphasis on perfecting fitness and accuracy.
Q: What are your general feelings on the state of Liverpool as the season is about to begin?
Q: What Liverpool players are the keys to Liverpool's success this season?
Pre-season was pretty much a write-off as most senior players were unavailable for friendlies due to the World Cup and the early Europa League qualifiers. In the return leg against Rabotnicki the team looked good but it wasn't exactly a real test of their abilities in truth.
The formations he has deployed in pre-season and the Europa League qualifiers have been not too dissimilar to the ones Benitez used last season. His preferred one seems to be 4-2-3-1 but in the second leg against Rabotnicki he went for a 4-1-4-1 which was interesting to say the least.
Q: What are the strengths of Liverpool?
Dani Pacheco has the potential to become a real impact player for the club and I feel Martin Kelly will come good in the new campaign after managing to put last season's injury nightmare behind him.
What are the weaknesses of Liverpool?
Last season Glen Johnson's position at full-back was exposed far too many times as was Emiliano Insua on the left-hand side of defence. The fact that prior to Maxi Rodriguez's arrival there was only one natural winger in the form of Albert Riera also meant that a lot of attackers had to double up on the flanks
The one area that Liverpool are still lacking in is central midfield due to Xabi Alonso's departure last summer but Alberto Aquilani is being expected to finally step up to the plate after being limited by injury last season.
Q: What players were key acquisitions so far for Liverpool?
All eyes have been on Cole as the so-called marquee signing but Milan Jovanovic has the potential to make the same level of contribution to the side as Dirk Kuyt has in recent times.
Re-signing Fabio Aurelio is definitely a key addition if he can remain fit because he was a useful player to have and can plug the gap at left-back better than Insua.
Danny Wilson's capture from Rangers and the arrival of Charlton's Jonjo Shelvey are definitely ones for the future but we will see glimpses of their potential over the coming season.
Q: What players were key losses for Liverpool?
What players were key losses for Liverpool?
There haven't really been any key losses at Anfield as of yet. Yossi Benayoun left for Chelsea but was replaced by a higher calibre of player in Cole. Albert Riera's departure was always inevitable after his high-profile tantrum back in April so fans shed very few tears about him.
Liverpool's biggest concerns are the potential outgoings before the transfer window closes on September 1 with Pacheco and Maxi both tipped to leave the club whilst Javier Mascherano has yet to complete his move to Inter Milan.
If Mascherano does join the European champions then it will allow Lucas Leiva to make the defensive midfield role his own but Hodgson appears intent on signing Christian Poulsen from Juventus which means that he will be pushed back down the pecking order.
Q: Who are some of the young players of the future for Liverpool?
Who are some of the young players of the future for Liverpool?
The four I mentioned earlier - Shelvey, Wilson, Kelly and Pacheco - are definitely the ones to keep a firm eye on but a lot of players have been promoted from the Academy who have intrigued greatly.
Ayala already has a few senior appearances to his name from last season and impressed largely in pre-season so he is the more likely of the two to command a regular place in the coming years.
But Irwin was expected to join Manchester United last season, which demonstrated how highly-rated he is even at this stage of his career.
Lauri Dalla Valle is a player I have watched with interest following his move to the club in 2008. Hodgson still has a keen eye on the Finnish game as he had looked at signing him when he was at Fulham.
The biggest buzz this season is around 18-year-old Thomas Ince, whose father Paul was captain of the club in the late 1990s.
Q: What has been your favorite match between Liverpool and Fulham?
The 5-0 thrashing at Anfield in October 1993 is one that a lot of fans remember for Robbie Fowler's five goals in one game but the one that sticks out in recent times was the game at Craven Cottage in April 2009.
Benayoun's winning goal in the 92nd minute is one that will live long in the memory of supporters as it kept Liverpool in the title race until the final third. The game itself was frustrating due to the amount of times the ball hit the woodwork but the relief and elation fans felt at full time more than made up for it.
Q: Are you looking forward to the Fulham and Liverpool matches this year?
Games against Fulham haven't traditionally been ones Liverpool fans look forward to as they are not one of the club's rivals in the same way Everton and Manchester United are.
But it will be interesting to see how Hodgson fares against his old club as he will be out to prove himself, especially given the war of words Mohamed Al Fayed has attempted to stoke up following his move to Anfield.
Q: What are your predictions for Liverpool in the Europa League?
There is no reason why Liverpool can't go all the way this year especially with Hodgson at the helm. His ability to mastermind famous victories with Fulham last season against some of the traditional European heavyweights means that silverware could be winging its way to Anfield at the end of the season.
Q: What are your predictions for Liverpool in the English Premier League?
It's a trip into the unknown with a new manager in charge so no one can say for sure but Champions League qualification is definitely achievable providing that they are lucky on the injury front.
I want to thank again Richard Buxton of Click Liverpool for his insight into Liverpool.