Last season: 6th
FA Cup: Third round
Carling Cup: Third round
Europa League (if applicable): Last 16
Opening three fixtures: Sunderland (h), Arsenal (a), Bolton Wanderers (h)
Transfers in: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £16m), Charlie Adam (Blackpool, £8.5m), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa, £20m), Alexander Doni (Roma, free), Jose Enrique (Newcastle, £6m)
Transfers out: Paul Konchesky (Leicester, £1.5m), Gerardo Bruna, Thomas Ince (both Blackpool, undisclosed), Chris Mavinga (Rennes, £1m), Martin Hansen (Bradford, loan), Stephen Darby (Rochdale, loan)
Key man: Steven Gerrard
Title odds: 9/1
Not even the most ardent Kopite believes Kenny Dalglish’s side can genuinely challenge for the Premier League title, even though astute (if overpriced) buys have improved the squad considerably. January signing Luis Suarez has proved inspirational, but too much deadwood from the ill-fated Hicks and Gillett regime remains and with Champions League qualification the priority, odds of 9/1 make no appeal.
To win title without Man Utd and Chelsea odds: 7/2
At 7/2 Liverpool will have their supporters but the squad is still behind Manchester City, who look worthy favourites at 11/10. While City have aspirations of snatching the title (and the chequebook to back it up), Liverpool are still a couple of world-class players away from competing at the very top.
Finishing in top four odds: 11/10
Champions League qualification is Liverpool’s primary aim, yet odds of 11/10 make them fifth favourites. Arsenal, the team most vulnerable, are nobody’s idea of value at 13/20 given they are losing key players and though the price is skinny when three of the four places are secure, Liverpool’s rapid improvement under Dalglish make the Reds the better bet.
To finish above Man Utd with an 11.5-point headstart odds: 17/20
Liverpool finished 22 points behind the champions last season, though took only three less points from January onwards, which gives an indication of Dalglish’s reinvigorating effect. Yet with slight improvement expected from United, who have bought well and have vibrant youngsters returning from loan, Liverpool at 17/20 is far too short to consider.
To finish above Spurs odds: 1/2 (also 17/20 with 2.5-point deficit)
Despite Spurs’ well-deserved victory at Anfield in May, Liverpool will be looking down on their north London rivals come the season’s end. Liverpool accrued seven more points than Spurs after Dalglish took the reins in January and while the Reds have strengthened, Spurs have stagnated after a surprisingly inactive summer and face the prospect of losing star man Luka Modric. Take Liverpool -2.5 points at 17/20.
With no European football, Liverpool have a significant advantage over their rivals for fourth. Liverpool won more points (33) than anyone other than United and Chelsea from January onwards and having solved problem areas with buys at left-back (Jose Enrique) and out wide (Stewart Downing), Liverpool have a deep – and good – enough squad to last the distance and secure fourth spot.
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