• Premier League

Johnson: Next season will be tough, but we'll cope

ESPN staff
August 5, 2014
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is confident despite defeat to Manchester United

Glen Johnson is confident Liverpool can still battle for the Premier League title despite the departure of last season's top scorer Luis Suarez.

Liverpool finished just two points behind champions Manchester City last season having spent a majority of the final few weeks top of the league.

After a stormy World Cup, in which he was sent off and subsequently banned for four months after biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, Suarez left for Barcelona in a £75 million deal, but Johnson believes Liverpool have the squad depth to cope.

'United will challenge'

  • Glen Johnson believes Manchester United will be back in the title race next season.
  • In their first season after Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, United finished outside the top three for the first time in the Premier League era when David Moyes could only guide them to seventh.
  • But Johnson, who played in Liverpool's 3-1 International Champions Cup defeat to United in Miami on Monday, says Louis van Gaal will "steady the ship".
  • He added: "They will provide a stronger challenge this season. Obviously they didn't have a great year last year when not much went their way. But I'm pretty sure Van Gaal will get what he wants out of his players and I'm sure they will be a lot tougher to beat this year."

"Any team that loses a player like Luis is going to feel it," said the right-back. "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."

Liverpool's title challenge last season was put down largely to the club not having any European competitions as distraction. And with a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009, Johnson is sure the club can cope.

He added: "If you want to win the league, the start of every season is important, whoever you play.

"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."

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