Hope still remains for Liverpool FC

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After making a return to the UEFA Champions League after a five-year absence, Liverpool's hopes have again fallen after being unable to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

Liverpool has endured both positives and negatives in the 2014/15 campaign following what was almost a dream season last year. After finishing second in the league last season, the team has greatly struggled in all competitions this year.

The Reds' struggles have largely been due to a plague of injuries and lack of goal production. After the summer transfer of Luis Suarez, the immediate question of Liverpool's ability to score arose.

The obvious answer to that question seemed that Daniel Sturridge, who scored 21 goals last season, would play a big part in the team's attack. However, an early-season injury to the twenty-five-year-old has kept him from being able to contribute to the team's attack this season.

Another player that was expected to help fill the shoes of Suarez was controversial striker Mario Balotelli, who was signed from AC Milan very late in the summer transfer window. Despite high expectations for the Italian, he has not yet netted a single goal in league play for the Reds.

As the season has progressed, pressure is mounting on Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who spent in excess of $182 million on players in the summer transfer window. Many are growing weary of the team's struggles, but much of the fault does not fall on the manager as, on the whole, the team has not had as weak of a campaign as many are claiming.

Rodgers' side has actually not performed as poorly as would be expected given the considerable injuries and other setbacks the team has suffered this season. The largest criticism of the Reds this season has come due to the large amount of money spent on transfers. However, many of the players brought in for this season have performed very well.

Lazar Markovic has been a very good signing thus far. The twenty-year-old winger has shown his versatility and skill in every match he has played despite his red card against Basel in the last group stage match of Liverpool's time in the Champions League.

Another quiet star for the club has been Adam Lallana, who has not played quite as much as some expected, but has had a huge impact for the Reds. Offering a creative spark in the center of midfield, the Englishman has truly impressed and earned himself several international caps.

Despite having a bit of a rough start, Liverpool's hopes can be renewed as the January transfer window approaches along with the second half of the season. Many good possibilities are in store for the Merseyside club.

With the new year approaching, the club can truly look forward to many new options. The transfer window will allow Rodgers to fill gaps in his squad which have been apparent throughout the campaign so far.

The need for a quality striker to add depth to the attack will be the top priority for the Northern Irishman. The purchase of a striker will also likely be supplemented with additions at fullback and a keeper to challenge Simon Mignolet for the starting spot.

Hope also returns in the form of several players returning from injury. Both Sturridge and Balotelli are expected back around the start of the new year. With both strikers back, along with the addition of a new forward, the club will hope to return to the goal-scoring form it saw last season.

Though many fans had hoped to see Liverpool in the knockout stages of the Champions League, relegation to the Europa League also presents an opportunity. The Reds again have a chance to impress on the international stage, even if it is not at the highest level of European football.

There is also a considerable amount of time for Liverpool to make a full recovery in the Premier League as well. With over half the season remaining, plenty of time remains for the Reds to turn around their domestic campaign.

The possibility of the team taking home some silverware has not been ruled out either. Following its 3-1 victory over Bournemouth the team is now in the semifinals of the Capital One Cup and is preparing to begin its fight for the FA Cup against AFC Wimbledon on Jan. 5.

Nick Papadis is a sophomore at American University majoring broadcast journalism and broadcasts AU Men's Soccer amongst other sports. Nick is an avid Liverpool fan. Follow him on twitter @NPSoccerTalk
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