Whilst the battle at the top of the Premier League is more competitive than ever this season, Kenny Dalglish will be confident that his squad is now capable of competing at the highest level, thanks in part to the new recruits he has brought in.
Henderson was the first signing Dalglish made this summer, with many people split in their attitudes towards the deal. While a lot of people balked at the £16M spent on the midfielder, others were congratulating Dalglish on securing a young England international with his best years ahead. With Steven Gerrard injured, Henderson has been thrust into first-team duties immediately, and has looked as if he belongs. Scoring his first goal against Bolton in Liverpool’s 3-1 win, his confidence will be high, and with Gerrard still injured and Raul Meireles joining Chelsea, he may find his run in the first-team continues.
The Scottish midfielder hit the headlines at Blackpool last season, but many have been sceptical as to whether he can reach the same heights at a bigger club. Scepticism aside, Adam and Liverpool seem like a great fit, with the Reds having been looking for a replacement for Xabi Alonso since his left for Real Madrid, and Adam keen to challenge for European football and test his talents on a larger showcase. His initial performances have been above all expectations and many Liverpool fans cannot wait to see how he links up with a returning Gerrard.
Although Doni is unlikely to make many first-team appearances due to the quality and consistency of Pepe Reina, Doni is arguably the highest quality backup goalkeeper Liverpool have had in many seasons, and should Reina suffer an injury, Dalglish will be confident Doni can provide adequate cover between the sticks.
Billed as Liverpool’s biggest signing of the summer, his impact has already been felt. He has not suffered from the ‘settling in’ period players usually go through at a new club, and has most definitely hit the ground running. Dalglish was once again criticised by some for the £20M price tag he had to meet to secure Downing’s signature, but if the winger can continue his impressive early form for the club, then he will definitely be an integral component in Liverpool’s challenge to return to European football.
Liverpool have lacked a quality and consistent left-back for some time now, with Paul Konchesky failing to make his mark at Anfield, and Fabio Aurelio unfortunately spending more time injured than playing. Enrique looks set to change that however, excelling in his first three matches, and even winning the man of the match award against Arsenal. He provides Liverpool with a solid defensive platform as well as an exciting attacking threat down the left wing, where he has already showed glimpses of how well he can link up with both Downing and Luis Suarez.
Many Liverpool fans can be forgiven for not knowing too much about Coates prior to his move to Anfield, but that does not mean that they should underestimate him. An international teammate of Suarez, the Uruguyan has the potential to become one of the best centre halves in football. Having been awarded the young player of the tournament award at the recent Copa America, Coates has all the attributes to make it as a Premier League centre-back, with tremendous physicality as well as an ability to read the game that far surpasses his years. At only 20, Coates’ first-team chances may be limited this season, but look for him to be the long-term replacement for the ageing Jamie Carragher.
A last-minute deal before the transfer window saw Bellamy return to Anfield, with Dalglish confident that the forward can make more of an impact than his last spell with the club. Although this signing is viewed cautiously by many Liverpool fans who remember Bellamy’s off-field controversies only too well, the facts are that he has an instinct for goal and the club were able to bring him in on a free transfer. With Suarez and Andy Carroll as Dalglish’s favoured strikers, Bellamy is likely to play the role of a back-up striker, but arguably can offer a lot coming off the bench and running at tired defences.
Despite a good start to the season, it may be premature to talk about Liverpool competing for the title. They have a lot of ground to make up on the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City, but they are definitely catching up quick. With Arsenal and Spurs poor starts to the season, Dalglish will be even more confident of qualifying for the Champions League this season, and should they fail in this attempt, then their season is likely to be viewed as disappointing for the big spending Reds.