With just under two weeks until the season kicks off, it's time to start our season preview for what we think will happen on the Fields of Anfield Road this season. Generally, the way I like to do this, and gets some response, is to look at the questions facing the squad this season. As we get closer and closer to the big kickoff, we'll get to more serious questions. But let's kick off today with one of the more fun topics to discuss and generally the whole point of the sport, who's going to score the goals?
Liverpool for the first time in a while don't come equipped with the blunt object, couldn't be more obvious striker who clearly is going to be the main weapon. It was Fernando Torres for years, and a couple years before that Michael Owen, who took Robbie Fowler's throne (or whatever a "God" would sit on. I'm guessing a really nice loveseat). While this squad has more talented options, this is more like the Rafa squad with Bellamy, Crouch, and Kuyt all able to provide 10 or more goals (I still think Kuyt would have been the better choice to jettison than Bellamy, as looney toons as he is, but that's what I kind of like).
A lot of this could breakdown to how Liverpool are going to play. If they insist on being the glorified Stoke that we saw yesterday, where everything is about getting the ball wide and humping crosses to Andy Carroll, then it's obviously going to be him, because he'll be getting the most opportunities and that wouldn't fit Luis Suarez's game at all. If they flip it around however, and try and play a smooth passing game with lots of movement, we have no idea if Carroll can fit into that. We know Suarez can, and he would probably then bag most of the goals.
But there's so much more to Suarez's game then just poaching. He's much more creative than that, and sets up more chances with Liverpool then he does with Uruguay, where Forlan and others do that for him. With Liverpool, we see him drifting out wide to both sides, taking on defenders and turning defenses into smashed sandcastles, leaving tap-ins for others. While Suarez is indeed a wonderful player, I wonder if he isn't a 15-20 goal guy who assists on a bevy of other goals instead of a 25 goal destroyer.
Obviously, the other thing to consider here is who is going to take penalties? Dirk Kuyt's spotless record, along with injury concerns that will hang over Steven Gerrard, probably indicate that Kuyt will get the call. So he's going to bag 5-7 easy ones, and we know he's going to pop up with more from open play by just being in the right place, as he always seems to be. But Kuyt hasn't proven to be much more than that in England instead of the orgy of twine-denting he was in Holland. He caps out at 15 at most. And there's also the fact that when all this shakes out, Kuyt's place might not even be guaranteed.
The only threat from midfield is Gerrard, but how many games can he be counted on? And if he's playing, where will it be? Will he be close enough to goal to again reach the highs of the 20-goal plateau he has before? Maybe, but no one knows. Charlie Adam will be too deep (and more displays like yesterday and he'll find it awfully hard to score from the bench). Jordan Henderson? No. If by some miracle Liverpool's most gifted midfielder, that being Alberto Aquilani, not only stays but plays regularly, he's never been a prolific scorer, though I don't think 10 would be out of his range.
So the answer seems pretty cut and dried. I don't expect Liverpool to constant just try and hoof it into the box, and I pray that they don't. So Suarez just edges this, with what I guess will be about 18 league goals and maybe 22-24 with decent cup runs. But what's exciting is that all of Carroll, Kuyt, Gerrard, Downing, Henderson, and one or two others could chip in with eight or more.