LONDON (AP) – After missing out on European football for the first time in 11 years, Liverpool will be one of the teams leading an assault on the Premier League's top four this season in a bid to the lucrative Champions League.
The days of Liverpool being an established member of England's so-called ''Big Four'' are over, with Tottenham and Manchester City breaking through the past two seasons.
But with the return of Kenny Dalglish as manager and the takeover last year by American investor John Henry's Fenway Sports Group, there is a sense the five-time European champions are on their way back.
Along with Tottenham and Everton, Liverpool look to have the best chance of breaking back into the elite, with Arsenal especially looking over its shoulder.
Having made a strong finish to last season, Liverpool has brought in four players at a cost of nearly 50 million pounds ($72 million).
Focusing on ambitious British players with Premier League experience, Dalglish has signed three midfielders - England winger Stewart Downing from Aston Villa, Scotland international Charlie Adam from relegated Blackpool and England youngster Jordan Henderson from Sunderland.
Alexander Doni also joined from Italian side Roma to provide backup to first-choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The acquisition of the 25-year-old Adam is especially important for Dalglish, who tried to sign the center midfielder in the January transfer window.
Adam has drawn comparisons with former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, who is now at Real Madrid, for his range of passing and free kick technique.
''I came to Liverpool to win titles and I would trade in anything for that, even if it meant not scoring at all next season,'' Adam said.
Fans will also be anticipating how strikers Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll combine this season.
Both players were signed by Dalglish in the January transfer window, using the money raised by the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea, but only Suarez has so far impressed.
The 22-year-old Carroll, signed for 35 million pounds ($50 million) from Newcastle, scored 13 league goals last season but only two were for Liverpool as he struggled with injury.
Suarez may not be fit for the start of the season, having played a key role for Uruguay in its run to the Copa America title, while there are still doubts over the fitness of captain Steven Gerrard, who has been out since March with a groin injury.
Memories of a magical run to the Champions League quarterfinals should inspire Tottenham as they bid to get back in Europe's elite competition.
Manager Harry Redknapp has held on to sought-after players Luka Modric and Gareth Bale and still has the squad to challenge last season's top four.
Modric had his head turned when London rival Chelsea inquired about a transfer but Redknapp resisted the overtures and the Croatia playmaker is sure to have a key role again this season.
Bale, the current PFA Player's Player of the Year, will hope to have seen off the injuries that stopped him from building on an outstanding first half of last season, which included a memorable display against Inter Milan when he scored a hat trick at the San Siro in a 4-3 loss.
Everton will be relying on manager David Moyes working his magic with the limited resources he has available to him for the club to challenge once again for a place in the Champions League.
Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta are the key players for Everton, while in defense Phil Jagielka is important to the plans of Moyes.