Johnson bullish about Liverpool’s chances despite loss of Suarez

Full-back points to good start made to last season in absence of Uruguayan

Liverpool’s Glen Johnson in action against Olympiacos FC during the International Champions Cup on July 27th in Chicago. Photograph: David Banks/Getty Images.

Liverpool’s Glen Johnson in action against Olympiacos FC during the International Champions Cup on July 27th in Chicago. Photograph: David Banks/Getty Images.

 

Glen Johnson is confident Liverpool’s challenge for domestic and European honours will not be derailed by the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona for £70 million (€88 million).

Brendan Rodgers’s side were hugely indebted to Suarez last season, his 31 goals helping the club mount their strongest title push for years.

Rodgers has worked hard to replace the striker, with Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana arriving from Southampton and Lazar Markovic and Emre Can also joining, and Johnson is unfazed about the team’s ability to respond in the coming campaign.

The defender is bullish about the club’s chances of a first top-flight title since 1990, after they finished second last season. “Any team that loses a player like Luis is going to feel it,” he said. “But we will carry on the way we do, creating chances. I think we were the team who created the most chances last season, we’ve signed some good strikers and I’m sure once they get a chance they will take it. It gets overlooked that we played the first six games of last season without Luis and made a fantastic start so we can clearly win without Luis.”

Stronger squads

“I think they [United] will provide a stronger challenge this season,” Johnson said. “Obviously they didn’t have a great year last year when not much went their way. But I’m pretty sure Van Gaal will settle the ship, get what he wants out of his players, and I’m sure they will be a lot tougher to beat this year.

“It will probably be the usual five, then a surprise packet. The last three years or so we’ve had five or six clubs fighting for fourth place.”

Liverpool’s start to the season, which includes matches against Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton before the end of next month, will ensure Rodgers’ side will be challenged from the off before a return to the Champions League will further test the squad. The group stage begins in the middle of next month.

“If you want to win the league, the start of every season is important whoever you play,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, whoever you play you are fighting for three points. But we’ve got some big teams early on. Sometimes that can be a good thing, sometimes a bad thing.

“We’ve been preparing regardless of who we are playing at the start of the season. Hopefully we will win those games, give us a good start and damage our rivals.

“We were definitely fresher for not playing in Europe last season and, with the size of the squad we had last season, we probably could not have coped with all the extra games. It was probably an advantage last year. We’re going to have a lot more games this season but hopefully we can keep everyone fit and keep fighting.” – (Guardian Service)

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