Friendly matches mean nothing, but obviously Liverpool have more than just one thing to be pleased and confident about. More than anything and anyone, next season will probably be about Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge carrying this team, hoping that the end result will be just as good as in the previous one.
Replacing Luis Suarez is difficult, maybe impossible. Other than Messi, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, there isn’t anyone as good near the goal with the ability to be both the finisher and the provider at such a high level. It’s not done with just one man, but by changing the dynamic of the team, which is clearly going to be different now that the Uruguayan is playing (not yet, as long as he’s suspended) for Barcelona.
Coutinho had an up and down season last year. Brendan Rodgers toyed with him and his positioning a bit too much during the first half of the season. Without, his role of being the team’s best passer, dribbler and creator grows and expands. The pressure is bigger than before, and Liverpool are hoping the end result will be along the lines of his dramatic goal against Manchester City in what seemed to be a title clincher.
Sturridge? If anyone doubted his scoring prowess, last season should have erased all doubts. And yet each season is a blank slate. Once again the fingers and eyes are pointed and directed at him. To bring goals, and to be consistent. One season of good football isn’t enough. Sturridge might not be Suarez, but he is the best striker in English striker today along with Wayne Rooney. He might not be as versatile in terms of the positions he can play in, but he is a much better finisher in front of goal.
Liverpool are headed, at least after a quick review of the current Premier League scenario, into a tougher season than in 2013-2014. No longer the surprise team, but with expectations to deliver. Last season almost ended with a championship. This season seems to be about cementing a regular spot in the top 4. A special season from the Brazilian and the Englishman could mean aiming a bit higher.