Liverpool begin their fresh pursuit of the Premiership Title tomorrow afternoon when welcome Ronald Koeman’s Southampton to Anfield for the early kick off. All Liverpool fans will be eager to see if the side can carry on the impressive form they showed against Borussia Dortmund. Barring any disasters, one would be confident that the Reds will reign supreme over the Saints.
In terms of starting line up, I’d expect to see Dejan Lovren start at the heart of the Liverpool defence after his solid Anfield debut, with Martin Skrtel alongside him. The big question will be the full back. Brendan Rodgers can’t hand a start to his latest signing, 22 year-old Spanish international Alberto Moreno due to a late registration, so maybe he’ll recall Glen Johnson? Perhaps a start for Jose Enrique who seems to have overcome last season’s injury woes to stake a claim for a place. Personally I’d like to see Javier Manquillo after the latter surprised many with a very mature performance last week. Logically, however, I think it’ll be Johnson at left-back and Manquillo making his league debut on the right.
In midfield, expect Steven Gerrard to continue as Anchor Man with Jordan Henderson partnering another new recruit, Emre Can. The German Under-21 international gave a quiet but effective account of himself during last week’s game against Dortmund, and would expect him to be given the chance to continue that steady progress. From what I saw against Dortmund, he is the one player who could genuinely fill the role in front of the back four once Stevie G finally hangs his boots up. Alternatives to partner Henderson? Both Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen have failed to truly impress and from that perspective, one has to fancy Can.
The attack is almost undoubtedly to consist of the three most consistently improving attackers Rodgers has at his disposal. Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and spearheading the trio, Daniel Sturridge. To say this will be a crunch season for Sturridge would be an understatement and in my opinion, I can’t see the boy disappointing. The stage is set for him to shine and I believe last season’s 21-goal haul will be bettered this term. Having said that, Liverpool are still a few goals short – well, 31 to be precise and the sooner Rodgers can secure Wilfried Bony or Marco Reus (please god the latter!) the better.
As for the visitors, one has to feel for Koeman who has taken over a side decimated by departures, ironically to Liverpool for the most part. When you consider Southampton have sold no fewer than 16 players since the end of last season – only recruiting seven, it’s easy to feel that the south coast side will struggle this season. With Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand and Shane Long the only two of those incomers with any real Premiership experience, one senses it’s going to be a long season for the Saints.
In general, one can only be optimistic about Liverpool going into this new season. Things have started brightly so far with the noisy neighbours Manchester United tripping up at home to Swansea in their opening game. What could be better?
With all things good, there also comes a little pain. One pain is the sale of Martin Kelly to, now manager-less Crystal Palace in the week for what can only be called a paltry £1.5-2m. Is Liverpool for real with this? I don’t understand how the club pays £12 m for Moreno and (potentially) £5m for Manquillo and then sell Kelly for a fraction of that amount. I can’t believe that’s a suitable return for the investment the club has made in the lad for the last 14 years. At 24, it’s fair to say that Kelly’s best years are ahead of him. Plus the fact that he is an England international, even though he has just the one senior cap, he’s played at Under 19, 20 and 21 level so surely that’s got to be worth something.
Still, moan over. Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Let’s look to the players the club has got now and forward to a season where the Reds of Liverpool can truly go one better than the last.
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