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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Liverpool need a perfect storm to win the title

With restrictions on spending forcing Rafa Benitez into horse trading in order to get in the players he wants there must be some doubts that he can forge a title challenge. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all got at least 83 points last season and none of them look weaker ahead of the new season.

In fact the main title rivals may well feel that they are in better shape than last season.

Arsenal had so many injuries in the second half of the season that as long as they have a better run this season they will look at last season's 83 points total as beatable. The loss of Hleb and Gilberto has probably been balanced with the purchases of Nasri and Ramsey - and Walcott is starting to look like justifying the hype. The transfer market remains a worry though.

Chelsea ended 2007/8 on 85 points despite missing a number of African players in January, inspirational players like John Terry and Didier Drogba missing much of the season and of course chopping the manager during the season. Despite this Chelsea went within a whisker of the Premier and Champions' League trophies. Scolari with unlimited funds at his disposal will surely yield at least the 85 points that Mourinho/Grant managed last season.

Manchester United were champions last season on 87 points and have not strengthened significantly instead relying on the return of loanees like Campbell and Evans added to the return of long-term injured like Neville and Foster. The Ronaldo issue refuses to go away, and he will miss the first few weeks of the season in any event, and if a new forward does not arrive then they may struggle to top last season's tally. United have averaged 82 points in recent years from the recent low of 2003/4 (75, 77, 83, 89, 87) - but fixture congestion could cost them something this season.

Last season the top three finish on 83-87 points and all look capable of finishing with similar points in 2008/9.

As to Liverpool and a little tinkering round the edges seems unlikely to yield the 10-15 extra points that Liverpool need to win the title. Last season Torres and Gerrard were so crucial that Liverpool could barely dare rest them (Gerrard played in 34 league games and Torres in 33); Robbie Keane would probably be a very useful addition and Dan Agger returns from injury - but will that be enough?

With the title likely to be won by a team getting close to 90 points Liverpool will need a perfect storm that knocks all three rivals off course whilst Liverpool's main players keep form and fitness high throughout the season. It's not impossible - but Liverpool will start the season as outsiders on the big four.

Liverpool recent points tally:

2007/8: 76. (Benitez)

2006/7: 68. (Benitez)

2005/6: 82. (Benitez)

2004/5: 58. (Benitez)

2003/4: 60. (Houllier)

COMMENTS

John

Agreed it looks tough but its going to come down to the critical games between the top 4 and here Liverpool have most scope to gain especially against Man Utd in the past few seasons. Last season, Rafa showed he had worked out how not to lose so many games but now he needs to win the home draws and take at least three points off each of the other 'big 4'.

I think Rafa also realises that blooding 3/4 foreign players in the PL each season makes it tough to progress, hence why he is trying to buy proven PL performers such as Barry and Keane. Still much as it pains me to say it. Hard to look past Man U as they have a young and settled squad (Ronaldo aside) while Chelsea are getting a little older and will miss Makalele while Arsenal still look a bit too overreliant on Fabregas and youngsters.

R U HAVING A LAUGH

I stopped reading this article that was clearly written by an idiot after he said" non of the top3 look any weaker than last season" what, Arsenal have lost Hleb, Flamini and possibly Adebayor. do some reserch twit!

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