LIVERPOOL WILL BE a weaker side going into this season’s Premier League campaign while Chelsea look to be the strongest, according to former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
The Sky Sports pundit was speaking ahead of the new Barclay’s Premier League season, which gets underway on Saturday. The 36-year-old believes that Liverpool will be weakened after selling Luis Suarez to Barcelona but admits that it was always going to happen at some stage.
“At this moment, before Liverpool have played you would have to say the starting 11 would have to be weaker when you’re losing one of the world’s best players. There’s no doubt about that. Brendan Rodgers hasn’t replaced him with a like for like”, said the former Champions League winner.
Talk of Suarez leaving Anfield intensified after the Uruguayan was involved in a biting incident with Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s group stage match with Italy, earning him a four month ban from football. Carragher believes that the move was bound to happen at some stage but that won’t make it any less disappointing for Liverpool fans.
“With the incident at that World Cup, it was obvious that he wanted to go and it was obvious to everyone that he had a buyout clause. If someone matched that buyout clause he was always going to go and on the back of the incident at the World Cup and other incidents, it was probably best all-round that he moved on and Liverpool go in a slightly different direction.
“I’m absolutely gutted, devastated as a supporter watching Liverpool. I’m not going to see Luis Suarez play at Anfield anymore. He’s one of the greatest players to ever play at Liverpool, not just this year… of all time. He’s that good.”
After a third place finish last season Chelsea have strengthened significantly over the summer bringing in Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Filipe Luis and Cesc Fabregas while Thibaut Courtois has returned from an extended loan period at Atletico Madrid. Carragher believes that Chelsea are favourites for the title this season.
“I like the three signings Chelsea have made up until now. They are experienced players and one has experience in the Premier League. I was a big fan of the left-back Filipe Luis last season. I thought he was outstanding.
“You could say the same about Diego Costa but I think with his performances in the World Cup there’s still a couple of question marks for people in this country. Those who have watch Spanish football on Sky for the last few years will know his quality.
“They are three experienced players and Mourinho has said himself he thinks they’re ready to win the title. He didn’t feel that last season. They’d be my tip to win the league – Chelsea.”
The Liverpudlian, who made 737 appearances for the red team in the city, also spoke highly of Ireland and Everton full-back Seamus Coleman, saying that he thinks the former Sligo Rovers man can go all the way to the top of the game.
“I think he can go to the top. He’s been the best right full-back in the league. He got goals, he got assists and I think Roberto Martinez brought his game on to another level. I remember his performance at Goodison against Man United and of the 22 players on the pitch, he was the best by a long way that day. When you think of the top internationals and the money spent on some of those players, he was ahead of them.
“I don’t think he had any real competition to be in the PFA team of the year and he was definitely the stand-out right back.”
Carragher’s former club have brought eight players in this summer as Brendan Rodgers looks to go one step further than last season and the Monday Night Football pundit believes that it will be a challenge to integrate all of the new players into the squad.
“It is a big challenge and it’s never easy when you bring that amount of players in. It’s difficult to hit the ground running so obviously one or two might have a flying start and others may have teething problems.”
A second place finish last season means that Liverpool will compete in this season’s Champions League, the first time they have taken the field in the competition since the 2009/10 season.
Carragher, who won the Champions League with Liverpool on that famous night in Istanbul in 2005, believes that the new players will be particularly beneficial with the number of games Liverpool will play this season.
“They’ll all be needed. That was the problem for Liverpool last season. The strength of the squad, the strength on the bench. Obviously now Liverpool have a bigger and better squad, there’s no doubt about that. It will be more difficult because of Champions League games now and also the added scrutiny of what they did last season and how much money they’ve spent”, he said.