Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers is likely to be under pressure from the outset after Liverpool's poor finish last seasonAFP

Last season

Premier League: 6th

FA Cup: Semi-final

League Cup: Semi-final

Top Scorer: Steven Gerrard (13)

Summer's work

Liverpool's obvious need to strengthen an underperforming squad was further highlighted in particularly cruel fashion during the 6-1 humiliation at Stoke City on the final day of last season but the club have acted swiftly and decisively to conduct their business early this summer with no fewer than eight new arrivals already through the door at Anfield.

Roberto Firmino is the pick of a varied bunch after completing a £29m ($45.2m) switch from Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim. While the Brazil international playmaker is by no means a direct replacement for the departed Raheem Sterling, he will be relied upon to provide a constant source of creativity and attacking menace.

Christian Benteke becomes the focal point of Rodgers's frontline and will be under pressure to justify his own hefty £32.5m price tag alongside Danny Ings, although justifiable concerns remain over his ability to mesh seamlessly with Liverpool's current preferred style.

Christian Benteke
Christian Benteke will wear the number nine shirt for LiverpoolGetty

The experienced James Milner has also moved to Merseyside with the promise of occupying a regular central midfield role after rejecting a new contract at Manchester City. Meanwhile, versatile young defender Joe Gomez arrives from Charlton Athletic, goalkeeper Adam Bogdan joins as a free agent and Nathaniel Clyne becomes the fourth player to tread the path from Southampton to Liverpool in the past 12 months. And 18-year-old defensive midfielder Allan Rodrigues de Souza has been signed from Internacional.

In terms of departures, the constant drama involving Sterling was finally brought to a halt with confirmation of his £49m defection to Manchester City and long-time captain Steven Gerrard finally called time on his 17-year association with the club at the end of his contract in order to wind down his career in Major League Soccer with Los Angeles Galaxy.

Glen Johnson and Brad Jones were among the players released and Sebastian Coates and Rickie Lambert have left for Sunderland and West Brom respectively. Andre Wisdom and Luis Alberto will spend the entire season away from Liverpool on loan, meanwhile, and Javi Manquillo returns to Atletico Madrid having seen his proposed two-year stint in the Premier League ended prematurely due to a lack of discernible impact.

Manager – Brendan Rodgers

It is very difficult to escape the feeling that this is a particularly decisive season for Rodgers in the context of both his career prospects and his current position. After all, it was only by the good graces of principal owner Tom Henry and Fenway Sports Group (FSG) that he avoided the axe in May after Liverpool closed the year on a dismal run of just one win in five Premier League matches.

Falling at the last hurdle in both domestic cup semi-finals as well as in the group stages of the Champions League and the last 32 of the Europa League have done little to convince supporters that the former Watford, Reading and Swansea boss is capable of delivering silverware and he simply cannot afford to face accusations over failing to adequately reinvest a significant windfall for the second consecutive summer. If his recent signings fail to perform, Rodgers could well be facing the sack.

Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson is the new Liverpool captain after Steven Gerrard's departureGetty

Key player – Jordan Henderson

This suggestion would likely have been scoffed at in the not-too-distant past, but Henderson's significant improvement coupled with the inevitable impact of Gerrard's departure makes him critical to Liverpool's future hopes.

A driving force from midfield, the passionate 25-year-old, who will feature alongside Lionel Messi on the cover of video game Fifa 16, will need to continue to show the same sort of leadership qualities that convinced Rodgers he was worthy of being named as the club's new skipper in July. Without him, Liverpool are bound to lack necessary clarity and direction.

Expectations

For Rodgers's sake, Liverpool simply cannot be seen to be regressing further this season after failing to retain their place in the top four at the first time of asking in 2014-15.

The Reds should be applauded for getting the majority of their business early, avoiding any long-winded and wholly tedious transfer sagas and also playing the Sterling saga to near perfection. However, it seems doubtful they will be strong enough to usurp any of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Manchester City and regain their position in the Champions League qualification places.

That is by no means a disgrace in the current climate, although it remains to be seen if a near-miss will be enough to justify Rodgers's position and allow him to earn another stay of execution.

IBT prediction - 5th