The middle of the English Premier League season is upon us with the year 2014 coming to the close. At the beginning of the season, Liverpool fan’s hopes were set higher; challenge for the title again, have a good showing in the Champions League and ultimately prove you are a better team without the former #7. That being said, the season is not over. Liverpool is still competing in Europe, albeit the Europa League. The targets for the league are still attainable, finish in the top four to re-secure a Champions League spot (and hopefully finish above Manchester United).
The Anfield Shop looks at the top 10 burning questions for Liverpool fans as 2014 comes to a close.
10. Will Emre Can be the big influence LFC needs to re-right the second half of the campaign as Rodgers predicts?
“Emre has a big future here,” LFC Manager Brendan Rodgers said of Emre Can in the Liverpool Echo.
“It was curtailed a bit in the summer when he was trying to get his fitness but had an ankle issue which meant he was in and out of training.”
“Emre has great athleticism and has presence on the pitch and is an outstanding footballer. He is young and still acclimatising to the game here.”
9. Will Liverpool win the Capitol One Cup this season?
“We want to win this competition,’ Brendan Rodgers said in The Guardian. ‘It is the first trophy (of the season) you can win, so it is a priority. If we can get the victory and get through, hopefully that will give us the impetus to go on. It’s going to be really tough but it is a challenge we are up for.”
8. Will Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard complete his career at Anfield or possibly abroad?
It would be hard to imagine Liverpool FC without Steven Gerrard at the helm. I am pretty sure we all felt that same way about Jamie Carragher. Gerrard turns 35 in May and speculation about the twilight of his career has begun. Will he retire at Anfield, or will he chase the spotlight abroad in New York City as some have speculated.
“I’m sure in time Steven will talk through the things he had to consider but for me there is no drama,” Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian.
“I can only think about the situation here and I hope there is a solution with the club and the representatives. It is not about the money, it is about the time of his career in terms of playing. He is a big talent.”
“We have spoken to Steven and his representative and he has been offered a contract here. hat is where it is at. For everything he has done here over 16 years he deserves the respect and time to consider that. It’s a big move in his life in terms of determining where his next contract will be.”
7. What are Liverpool’s chances of advancing past the final 32 in the Europa League?
The stakes have risen for winning the Europa league. For the first time ever, winning the Europa League gives winner a spot in next season’s Champions League. Chasing silverware is always a priority, but this gives Liverpool two different chances to make it back into Europe’s top competition. They will have to first get past Celtic, Everton & Tottenham.
6. Will Raheem Sterling hit the 15 goals that Brendan Rodgers expects of him?
“If I look at Raheem, his outcome last year in terms of goals and assists was probably where it’s at – in and around 10 to 15 goals, and creating goals. That’s a very good return for him,” said Rodgers said of Raheem Sterling on the Liverpool website.
“He’s a natural winger and if he gets those figures on a regular basis – between 10 and 15 goals a season, and assisting goals – then I think that’s a very good number for him.”
“You have other players that are out-and-out No.9s; he has shown, and his career will show as he matures even more, that he’s got that ability.”
5. What are LFC going to do about Mario Balotelli?
Mario Balotelli has found himself on the bench as a substitute a lot lately, whether it be fitness or on the field results. Could he see his time at Anfield coming to a close with the transfer window a few days away? Rodgers was asked by The Guardian if he planned to release any players in the transfer window.
“It is not something I have even thought about, to be honest,” Brendan Rodgers said in The Guardian.
“We have had a lot of games this season and a lot of competitions and at this moment the key for me is trying to keep this squad together.”
4. Is Simon Mignolet going to remain between the sticks for the second half of the season?
With the injury to Brad Jones, Liverpool is currently left with no other choice for keeper than Simon Mignolet. Over the last few weeks, the approaching transfer window and increasing pressure on Mignolet has the Belgian keeper well aware that his sub par performances will not be tolerated the manager.
“I don’t have to prove anything,” Mignolet said in The Telegraph. “The only thing I have to do is work hard in every game and do my best and then we will see what comes through. What more can I do? The only thing I can do is show on the pitch what I am capable of.”
3. Will Brendan Rodgers be given the transfer funds needed to fill the holes in his Liverpool squad or will he have to live or die by his previous transfer choices?
Brendan Rodgers spent £117m this summer in transfers. Only a few days away from the winter transfer window, it will be interesting to see if the powers that be in New England open up their wallets again for Rodgers, or if he will have to make do with his selection.
2. Will Liverpool finish in the top four of the table and make it back into the Champions League next season?
“Yes, absolutely,” Brendan Rodgers told The Daily Telegraph.
“It is always going to be a big challenge and of course we have to make up points, but we have shown that this is a club that can go on a run of games.”
“In the second half of last season, we went on a run of 11 wins and the most important thing is the confidence.
1. When will we have Daniel Sturridge back in the line up and will he bring the goals back to Liverpool FC?
Liverpool is arguably a more menacing opponent with Daniel Sturridge up top for the Reds. It takes the goal pressure off Sterling and would even allow Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini or Adam Lallana a little more freedom to find the net.
“Bring Sturridge back in January and we can get back to being that team,” Brendan Rodgers told The Telegraph.
“His rehab has been done in Los Angeles and he is now going to Boston and he will move on to a specialist facility there.”