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If the Season Started Tomorrow, How Would Liverpool's Starting Eleven Look?

The transfer window's not yet open, but with business already being completed, Liverpool's squad has changed enough to wonder how their starting eleven would look if the season were to start tomorrow.

Julian Finney

It's very likely that Liverpool's squad will be undergoing some significant changes in the coming weeks and months, but to this point there has been very little in the way of shock or surprise--no exits confirmed other than Andy Carroll's long-awaited permanent move to West Ham, Jamie Carragher's retirement, Peter Gulacsi's exit, and Danny Wilson's now-cancelled transfer to Hearts, and names on the way in that have been subject to prolonged discussions and negotiations prior to their official arrival. The squad has changed ever so slightly since season's end, and it's enough (especially on a slow news day) to wonder what the starting eleven would look like if the 2013-2014 campaign were to start tomorrow.

The only rule here is that we're talking officially official business only save for the Simon Mignolet deal, because a) Brendan Rodgers openly discussed that it was happening, and b) my guess is that it will lead to a very, very interesting conversation about which of he or Pepe Reina would be Liverpool's number one to face Stoke City. To this point the club have announced deals for Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto, and Iago Aspas. Not a sea-change in terms of numbers or personnel, but some interesting questions about where those pieces fit.

For my money, first ignoring the Luis Suarez ban and then taking it into account:

Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Gerrard Lucas
Aspas Suarez Coutinho

Bench: Mignolet, Toure, Kelly, Henderson, Allen, Alberto, Borini

Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Gerrard Lucas Henderson
Aspas Sturridge Coutinho

Bench: Mignolet, Toure, Kelly, Allen, Downing, Alberto, Borini

Though it's likely to change--ideally at the back, with a new name or two for depth or a starting berth, as well as in the defensive midfield--it's a very familiar starting eleven, with Iago Aspas potentially the only change. I don't think Kolo Toure is set to start with any frequency, though given Brendan Rodgers' feelings toward Martin Skrtel down the stretch, Toure would probably find himself in the eleven if no more business was conducted. I'm still on the Pepe Reina bandwagon for now, going with heart over head, but I'm fascinated to watch things unfold between him and Simon Mignolet. Martin Kelly and one of Toure or Skrtel provide the depth in defense, with Jordan Henderson the adaptable substitute to cover at right-back in a pinch or a range of roles through the midfield.

Steven Gerrard looks to be set for at least one more season as a squad regular, and the partnership alongside Lucas hit its stride as the season wound down, particularly when the captain committed to the defensive side of his duties. As noted, Henderson's style gives a range of cover, and Joe Allen offers a similar--if slightly more limited further forward--presence. Rodgers is going to have some choosing to do if he decides to go with three proper midfielders, a system he reportedly favors but abandoned as the season progressed.

Things get fun up front if Luis Suarez stays, and that's ignoring any potential additions. I think Aspas nudges past Fabio Borini for a starting spot and Luis Alberto starts as a depth signing with a view to a longer-term impact, with Suarez, Sturridge, and Philippe Coutinho the holdovers from last season's squad. That's an interchangeable, talented front four capable of contributing both in attack and the pressing game, and two forwards on the bench in Borini and Alberto who can offer something similar if called upon.

This squad doesn't have room for a few notables, including Stewart Downing, Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling, Suso, Andre Wisdom, or Sebastian Coates, five of whom featured regularly last season. All should be in the discussion for loans, and it's possible that one or two could find themselves making permanent moves away. Right now, though, Downing, Sterling and Shelvey are probably the next three into the squad, and all should be in the mix for domestic cup competition.

What we're left with is a squad that has arguably improved a bit, but still requires significant additions to challenge on a more consistent basis. More quality at the back, both centrally and at fullback is needed, and the midfield is still too lightweight to stare down a full campaign with Lucas as the only holding option. Henderson and Allen can cover, but someone a bit more solid and, though it'd be limiting, singularly-minded would be welcome.

Plus, Luis Suarez needs to stick around and Henrikh Mkhitaryan should arrive to solve all the problems everywhere.

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