2013/14 Season Preview: Suarez and Rodgers under pressure as Liverpool seek a top 4 finish

Last season’s position: 7th (W16 D13 L9 F71 A43)

Key man: Luis Suarez

Predicted position: 6th

What a strange summer this has been for Liverpool. Their best player has been desperate to leave the club, their manager and their owner have both strongly denied that he’d be allowed to do so, while accusing him of disrespecting the club and now they all have to kiss and make up.

Brendan Rodgers’ stance looks to have paid off as it looks increasingly probable that Luis Suarez will be at Anfield by the time the season kicks off and, perhaps even more crucially, once the transfer window shuts.

The Uruguayan is desperate to play Champions League football and claimed Liverpool have broken an agreement that was struck last season, that would have allowed him to leave had Liverpool failed to qualify for Europe’s top competition.

Whether the Uruguayan does end up staying or not, Brendan Rodgers knows that Liverpool must finish in the top four this season, otherwise his name could be one of those making its way in the famous brown envelopes.

Unfortunately for the Liverpool manager, not only United, Chelsea and City, but also Arsenal and Spurs look to be on a different level, which explains Rodgers’ intent not to sell Suarez to Arsenal.

Were the Uruguayan to join the North Londoners, Liverpool’s chances of a top four finish would be as good as gone and, even with Suarez in the team, Rodgers look to have his work cut out for this season.

However disillusioned and upset by the club’s refusal to sanction his sale, Suarez remains Liverpool’s best player by a country mile and, provided he remains at the club, the Uruguayan will be pivotal to his club’s chances to success this season.

Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing, Jonjo Shelvey and Pepe Reina have left Anfield, the latter on loan, while Simon Mignolet has arrived from Sunderland and Kolo Touré has signed on a free from Manchester City.

The Belgian custodian could prove a smart signing, much like Spaniards Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto. The former, a former Celta Vigo striker, impressed in pre-season and could have a much more prominent role than expected should Suarez leave the club, while Luis Alberto is the sort of ball-playing midfielder Rodgers considers pivotal to his game.

However, as shrewd a piece of business as both have been, Liverpool have so far struggled to sign a player that could significantly improve the club and their pulling power appear to be on the wane, perhaps understandably when one considers that the Merseysiders have finished 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th over the past four seasons.

John W Henry’s assertion that a top four finish is pivotal for the club is likely to add pressure on Brendan Rodgers, who will be without Luis Suarez for the first six games of the season, as the Uruguyan sits out the remaining six installments of his 10-game ban.

Without Suarez, the burden of providing the goals will fall on Daniel Sturridge, who impressed since his move from Chelsea, while Fabio Borini will be looking to put his injury problems behind him this season.

Philippe Coutinho was arguably Liverpool’s brightest note in the second half of last season and more of the same will be expected from the 21-year-old, while fellow Brazilian Lucas Leiva will hope for a first injury-free season in two years.

Martin Skrtel could still join Pepe Reina at Napoli, but that would leave Liverpool dangerously short of options at the back, where big things are expected of Martin Kelly.

With no European commitments this season Brendan Rodgers knows he has to deliver, whether he’ll manage to do so remains to be seen.

Will Liverpool be better off without Luis Suarez? Can Brendan Rodgers get the Uruguayan striker to repeat his goalscoring form this season?Let us know below or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter

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