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2011-2012 Season Preview - Maybe We're Out Looking For Answers: Which Of The New Boys WIll Make The Most Impact?

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Why does Downing look like Degen?
Why does Downing look like Degen?

Certainly enough of them for the discussion, isn't there? And we may have to revisit this discussion when all the sales and buys are done, which might not be for another three weeks. After all, we don't seem to have a left-back yet and the defense may need an overhaul at this rate as is.  But we'll run that kitten over when we get to it.

So of the ones who are already in, who do we think will make the biggest impact this season? The interesting part of this discussion is that most of the new signings will impact each other, because they all play in a packed midfield. Any combination of two of Jordan Henderson,  Charlie Adam, and Stewart Downing could force the third to the bench where he'll never make an impact. I guess that's a good problem to have, depth and all.

As you may have guessed, I've been a Charlie Adam skeptic from jump street. He plays a position that we already had three guys for (at least), got a massively outsized reputation at Blackpool when a lot of these Hollywood balls he plays look about as accurate as a disoriented shark. And the preseason hasn't helped. Though Adam has been deployed as sort of a holding midfielder, where he's supposed to ping balls around the way Xabi Alonso did from a deep-lying position, Alonso at least considered tracking back and marking someone. Adam hasn't shown any inclination to do so. And Alonso knew when it was time to go balls-deep, and when it was time to pull it back and play simple. I don't know if Adam has that radar up yet. Steven Gerrard stop trying to go all Sex Cannon with every pass when he was about 24. Adam is 26 and still there. Color me waiting to be convinced.

I'm a little more enamored with Jordan Henderson, though more based on his play last year and the versatility he provides that Adam doesn't. Henderson can play wide on the right, attacking midfield, or even deeper. He moves more. He gets back in his own half. He just seems to create more. And he's got youth, but that might mean that Kenny Dalglish isn't as pressured to play him as much. With all of the central spots filled to the brim with competition, and the wide right berth the port of call for the at-least dependable Dirk Kuyt, Henderson could indeed struggle to get a regular game to start. It remains to be seen.

Which leaves Stewart Downing. He's the only recent acquisition who I think is guaranteed to walk straight into the first 11, as there's no competition for a wide-left spot. While I wasn't thrilled with the price forked over, after taking time to read some Villa perspective and check out some other things, I'm already slowly warming up to Downing. No, he still doesn't have the pace I'd like, or that sort of Devil May Care style of game that you'd ideally want from a winger. But he's more composed on the ball than I remember, and sort of has this effortless slolemn through defenses that suggests a confidence/arrogance I didn't know he had -- especially when he's on the right. Good crosser as well, and he'll get the most opportunities. I think he'll also fit best in the style we think/hope Dalglish wants to play, as play won't always break down with him as it might with Adam.

So clearly my pick is Downing.