EPL Season Preview: Liverpool Never Walks Alone

The only way this photo could be better would be if the roles were reversed. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Team name: Liverpool Football Club

Nicknames: Reds

Location: Liverpool. What do you mean, you don't know where that is? Didn't we just give you an Everton preview? It's right across the road.

Ground: Anfield (capacity: 45,276). Built in 1884, which explains why they're always going on about needing a new ground or some silliness like that. Perhaps this is why the team needs competent ownership.

Manager: Roy Hodgson. Managed Fulham to the Europa League final last year and won Premier League Manager of the Year. Unfortunately, this means Liverpool will likely not be known as "LOLerpool" this season, as they were in their last days of Rafa Benitez.

Last year's record:

Premier League: 7th position. Because the winners of the FA Cup (Chelsea) and the League Cup (Manchester United) already secured European play through Premier League standings, Liverpool found their way into the Europa League.

League Cup: Fourth Round, lost to Arsenal

FA Cup: Third Round Proper, lost to Reading in a replay

European Competition: Liverpool failed to emerge from the group stages of the Champions League, but because they came in third in their group, they were entered into Europa League play. From there, they went all the way to the semi-finals, where the Reds were undone by eventual winners Atlético Madrid.

Brief History: Nothing about Liverpool's history can be summed up as "brief." This is a team, remember, that revels in the title "Most successful club in English history." But in the beginning, Liverpool really, really wanted to be Everton, trying to call themselves "Everton Athletic" and even copying the Toffees' kit. These days, Liverpool just want to be Chelsea or Manchester United, or maybe Arsenal, or for goodness sake even Blackburn, for although they've won a European trophy as recently as 2005, the Reds have never won the Premier League.

The most interesting parts of Liverpool history have occurred in the past 50 years (interesting to me, at least). Shortly after their loss to non-league club Worcester City in the 1959 FA Cup (Liverpool have lost to quite a few minnows in the FA Cup), the club appointed Bill Shankly as manager. Shankly quickly eliminated over half the squad and then created the "Boot Room," a room for team officials to talk strategy, now spoken of with reverence by anyone giving a stadium tour. More impressively, the squads managed by Shankly won three league titles, two FA Cups, a league cup and a UEFA Cup.

After Shankly's retirement, others who had been involved in boot room sessions continued to lead Liverpool to more and more hardware. Since Shankly's appointment, the Reds have won the first division 13 times (again, never the Premier League), the FA Cup 7 times, the League Cup 7 times, the European Cup 5 times, and the UEFA Cup 3 times.

But a bit of gloom still sits over the glory days of Liverpool: the club was involved in the two biggest football disasters of the 1980s. At Heysel in 1985, during the European Cup final against Juventus, a retaining wall collapsed and 39 fans were killed. English clubs were banned from European play for five years, Liverpool for six. While still serving that ban, another tragedy struck at Hillsborough. During an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, fans were crushed due to overcrowding. 96 Liverpool supporters died. (This information is presented without slant or bias. We are not The Sun. Please do not use the comments to expand on these tragedies, but instead read up about the situations yourselves).

In happier news, Liverpool last won European competition in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006, so it hasn't been that long. Plus, of course, they were scored upon by a beach ball last season.

Rivalries: Everton. Attendees of the Merseyside Derby are not segregated, and often families and friends sit together wearing different kits.

Players to Watch:

Fernando Torres: Considering ‘Nando scored the game-winning goal in Villa's second match against Liverpool last season, I should despise and abhor him. But there's something about that child-like, freckled countenance that makes it impossible to hate Torres. Calm, cool, and precise, Torres can terrify opposing defenses. Should El Niño be healthy, Liverpool will be damn near impossible to beat-provided, that is, that they have a midfield that is able to feed Freckles the ball.

Steven Gerrard: Speaking of the midfield, El Capitan has declared his intention to stick with Liverpool next season. One of three English players to score in the World Cup (and have it count, sniff), Stevie G may have not always been at his best last season, but the box-to-box midfielder still managed to score 12 goals. Gerrard's poor season last year might be attributed to his lack of a surrounding cast; with Torres injured so frequently opposing defenders were able to give Gerrard far more attention than he's used to, perhaps limiting his efficacy.

Joe Cole: The midfielder moved from Chelsea last month in what was more or less a trade for Yossi Benayoun, with Liverpool managing to get the better end of the deal - assuming Cole stays off the physio's table. Cole has been hailed as a prodigy from the moment he stepped onto the pitch, but his expressive genius has at time been hemmed by coaches insisting he play a different style of game. Only Jose Mourinho has managed to balance his attacking fluidity with a sense of defensive responsibility, but with Cole's ability to read the defense and carve them apart with clever combinations, it might be worthwhile for Liverpool to simply unleash the England man and see what happens.

A Villa Fan Says... "At least we finished above Liverpool last season."

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