The English Premier League returns to Merseyside as title-challenging Liverpool take on European football hopefuls Southampton in the opener of the 2014-2015 season. Both teams have had a very lovely summer, with players swapping clubs between them. While Dejan Lovren seems to be only ex-Saints player who is likely to take the field against his former club. Former Southampton captain will be in the stands watching his current club host his former employers and Liverpool-born Reds’ new striker Rickie Lambert will be itching to take the field against the very club with which he made his name in the past 2 seasons.
Here’s a look at how the Reds are most likely to line-up against Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.
Goalkeeper :- Simon Mignolet
The Belgian shot-stopper is the undisputed number 1 at Anfield. With a back-up keeper being one of the markers Rodgers’ shopping list, Mignolet will look to continue his impressive pre-season form and cement his already assured starting posistion. Mignolet will fondly remember the opening day of the previous season. A save from a Jonathan Walters penalty and another block of a Kenwyn Jones shot on the rebound to deny Stoke City an equaliser in the dying minutes of the game will live long in the memory of the Anfield faithful. Mignolet will do well to better that performance.
Right Back :- Javi Manquillo
The first of the Reds’ new Spanish full-backs – Javi Manquillo will most likely retain his place after a solid debut in a non-competitive friendly against Borussia Dortmund. Currently on a 2-season loan from Atletico Madrid, Manquillo won over quite a number of fans in his very first game with impressive attacking thrusts and accurate crosses. With young Jon Flannagan yet to return to full fitness, Manquillo will start down the right of Liverpool’s defence.
Right Centre Back :- Martin Skrtel
Liverpool’s best defender of last season is likely to hold on to his starting spot despite the challenge of his previous season’s defensive partner Mamadou Sakho. Skrtel looked comfortable along side Dejan Lovren in defence and Rodgers wouldn’t try to play around with their partnership without giving it a good go.
Left Centre Back :- Dejan Lovren
A lot is expected from Liverpool’s new signing Dejan Lovren this season. Having joined last month, Lovren certainly has the faith of the manager and fans by him. Lovren scored the winner in the corresponding fixture last season for Southampton, the Croatian would love to replicate his performance in a Red shirt a season on.
Left Back :- Glen Johnson
The much cricticised English full-back Glen Johnson looks likely to hold on to his starting spot at least for the opener as new signing Alberto Moreno is ineligible to take the field against Southampton. Having borne the brunt of critics and fans, Johnson would look to put a performance to remember as he fights off competition for his spot in the starting line-up.
Centre Defensive Midfield :- Steven Gerrard (C)
The 34-year old Whiston-born club captain has recently retired from international football in order to focus on Liverpool for the remainder of his career. After having endured possibly the most difficult 3 months of his career since the close of last season, Stevie G is back home. Liverpool is his club, Anfield his turf and the Premier League crown his ultimate goal.
Centre Defensive Midfield :- Emre Can
The young German had a relatively quiet game against Dortmund last week. However, the dynamism and physicality the Bayern Munich academy graduate adds to the Liverpool midfield is priceless. Expect him to catch the eye in a league which suits his kind of game and where is a unknown quantity.
Right Attacking Midfield :- Jordan Henderson
The greatest compliment that any Liverpool fan can pay the midfield-dynamo is that his 3 match suspension at the end of last season possibly cost the Reds the title. Its hard to imagine a Liverpool side without Henderson in midfield after last season, such has been his rise from laughing stock to future Liverpool skipper within a season and half.
Centre Attacking Midfield :- Phil Coutinho
The little Brazilian is destined for greatness. Left out of the Brazilian squad inexplicably, the twinkle-toed Coutinho has been dubbed as the ‘Brain’ of this Liverpool side by Brendan Rodgers. In line for a new contract, Coutinho will look to continue his mesmerizing form from pre-season.
Left Attacking Midfield :- Raheem Sterling
19 year-old Raheem Sterling is arguably one of the best teenagers in World Football. Pace, power, trickery and vision make Raheem one of the most exciting attacking players to watch in the Premier League. The diminutive youngster is comfortable playing out on the wing, through the middle or upfront; wherever Brendan asks him to play.
Centre Forward :- Daniel Sturridge
Discarded at Manchester City, misused at Chelsea – Daniel Sturridge has finally found home in Liverpool Red. The England number 9 thrives on the pressure of being the focal point of attacks. Now the first striker for both Liverpool and England, its the season Sturridge takes the Premier League by storm.