The sale of Luis Suarez has placed a big question mark over Liverpool ahead of the upcoming season. They may have lost their star player but they have been very active in strengthening their squad and will go into the new campaign with perhaps as many as seven or eight new players on board.
It's a similar position to that which Tottenham found themselves in a year ago, so it's inevitable that comparisons will be made. Fear not, though, Liverpool fans; the Reds are not going to "do a Spurs," and here's why:
The goals won't dry up
Tottenham were not the most prolific of sides even when Gareth Bale was there. They managed 66 goals in each of the Welshman's last two seasons at White Hart Lane, and that total dropped to 55 in 2013-14. As well as being their top scorer, Bale was their main source of supply to the other forward players and a source of inspiration to those around him. The same can be said of Suarez too of course, but the major difference is that Liverpool still managed 70 goals even without the 31 bagged by Suarez. To add some perspective, Spurs have failed to hit 70 goals in a season since the Premier League era began.
- Window Watch: Liverpool's summer in the market so far
Liverpool most likely will experience a drop-off in goal scoring from last year, and that would have been the case even with Suarez. Rodgers therefore needs to ensure the team are stronger in other areas to compensate for this. After all, you get the same amount of points for a 3-0 as you do for a 6-3.
The Premier League factor
Last summer Tottenham spent over 100 million pounds bringing in seven players from various leagues throughout the world. None had any experience of Premier League football and, quite frankly, it showed. It was asking a lot for even one or two of them to hit the ground running, let alone all seven, and only Christian Eriksen really lived up to his billing last year.
Overseas players often take some time to adapt to the demands of English football, and some simply never get to grips with it. By bringing in so many players from outside of the Premier League Spurs were taking a big gamble, but in contrast, Liverpool appear to have gone more down the "tried and tested" road.
Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert have experienced English football at almost every level, having come up through the leagues with Southampton. In addition, probable new recruits Loic Remy and Dejan Lovren have also shown they can cope with the rigours of English football, so -- in theory at least -- they should require very little adjustment to fit in. That does not guarantee they will all be successful signings, of course, but it certainly reduces the risk of them failing.
Another point worth considering is that Southampton's style of football last season was very much "Liverpool-lite." There were a lot of similarities in style, and that should make the transformation smoother for the ex-Saints contingent in the Anfield ranks.
If you lose the top scorer in the country, the blow is certainly lessened somewhat if you already have the second leading scorer within your ranks. What did Spurs have without Bale? Roberto Soldado was supposed to be the answer to their goal-scoring problem, but aside from proving to be an expert penalty taker, he offered little else in his first season in England. He had a fine pedigree but was an unknown quantity in terms of English football.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have a proven Premier League marksman in Sturridge. The former Manchester City and Chelsea man's strike rate since joining Liverpool is remarkable, and he's on course to become the fastest player to 50 league goals in club history. The presence of Suarez has helped him greatly, of course, but don't forget that when the Uruguayan served a 10-game suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic, Sturridge found the net 11 times. Providing he can stay fit, there is no reason the England man should not get close to 30 goals this season.
Andre Villas-Boas is more of a defensive-minded coach than Rodgers, and without Bale his side struggled to score goals. Villas-Boas was unable to find a solution to the problem, and ultimately it cost him his job. Rodgers' position is a lot more secure, having gone so close to an unlikely title success last season, and he will certainly not be fazed by the loss of Suarez. He will see it as a challenge; an opportunity to showcase his managerial skills in overcoming such a setback and building an even better team.
Suarez was brilliant for Rodgers, but Rodgers was brilliant for Suarez too. The Liverpool boss adjusted his tactics and formations to get the best out of his star player, and it proved to be mutually beneficial. Suarez got his dream move to Spain, and Rodgers got Champions League football and a huge transfer kitty to add to an already talented (albeit relatively small) squad.
Accommodating his two main men in the side in their best positions proved a constant test for Rodgers, and it may have affected the overall balance of the side. Both Suarez and Sturridge were more effective when playing as out-and-out strikers rather than coming from the sides, but with Suarez no longer there, expect Liverpool to line up in Rodgers' favoured 4-3-3 system a lot more this year -- which might just mean a little more defensive solidity.
It's not a rebuild
Liverpool's first XI was as strong as anybody's last season but they lacked depth in certain areas. The business conducted so far this summer has certainly addressed that, but the starting XI understandably looks weaker without Suarez. Fortunately for Liverpool, Rodgers does not need to build a whole new team. It merely needs fine-tuning, as even without Suarez, Liverpool can field a side more than capable of giving anybody a game.
Assuming the deals for Lovren and Remy go through as expected, Rodgers will have signed six players this summer, with the probability of at least two more to follow. But how many of those will be in the starting lineup on opening day? Two or three at most would be my guess, which is quite normal for most teams going into a new season.
That relieves much of the pressure on the new boys. For instance, if Germany U21 midfielder Emre Can takes time to adapt, that will not harm Liverpool's prospects, as he was signed with an eye on the future rather than the immediate present. Lazar Markovic is the most intriguing one as he will certainly be expected to contribute right away, and unlike Lallana, Lambert and Remy, he is going into completely uncharted waters. He may go the way Erik Lamela did in his first season in England, but then again he may prove to be a success like Eriksen.
Either way, Liverpool's season is not going to depend on it as their summer dealings have been far less risky than those at White Hart Lane a year ago.