Liverpool v Southampton
Sunday, 17th December 2014, 1.30pm Kick Off (UK)
The Reds will be looking to get off to a similar start to last season, when a dramatic opening day win over Stoke City provided the springboard for picking up three straight wins and starting the season in fine form.
It’s been a positive summer of transition for Liverpool – who enjoyed a decent pre-season campaign that was capped off with an outstanding display against Borussia Dortmund last time out – with eight new signings walking through the doors to boost what was a small squad at the managers’ disposal with an injection of real quality and frightening potential.
The corresponding fixture last season saw the Saints become the first team to beat Rodgers’ improving side with a 1-0 win at Anfield thanks to a goal from our new recruit, Dejan Lovren, but the Reds returned the favour at St Mary’s with an excellent 3-0 away thanks to goals from Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and a last minute penalty from Steven Gerrard in front of the travelling Kop.
Two of Liverpool’s summer signings from Southampton are in line to face their former club, but Adam Lallana won’t be joining Rickie Lambert and Lovren as part of the squad due to an injury sustained while on the clubs’ tour of the US. Lallana is said to be recovering well however and has returned to light training, meaning an arrival back to match action for the £22million man could be only three weeks away.
— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) August 12, 2014
Frustratingly for another new signing, Lazar Markovic is a doubt for the opening weekend clash due to suffering with an on-going niggling injury, but the Serbian is reported to be nearing a return to match action and could be ready in time for Liverpool’s second game of the season, if not the first.
New left back Alberto Moreno, whose move from Sevilla is all but confirmed, could go straight into the squad for Sunday’s game and despite limited training time with his new teammates. The Spaniard could find himself in the starting XI, replacing the makeshift Glen Johnson who filled the void against Dortmund last time out ahead of Jose Enrique.
Like last Sunday, the Liverpool squad is unlikely to feature Daniel Agger or Fabio Borini who are both said to be recovering from injuries at the same time as nearing the Anfield exit door.
Like last Sunday, the Liverpool squad is unlikely to feature Daniel Agger or Fabio Borini who are both said to be recovering from injuries at the same time as nearing the Anfield exit door, but Kolo Toure could once again feature on the bench however, after the Ivorian reportedly turned down a move to Turkish side Trabzonspor in favour of staying at the club as a squad player.
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) August 14, 2014
Predicted XI: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Gerrard, Henderson, Can, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge.
The Southampton dismantlement has been well documented throughout the summer, and many are tipping the Saints to struggle this season as a result, after not only losing a number of key players to Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, but also the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham.
Dutch football legend Ronald Koeman is the man the Saints’ board have chosen to rebuild the depleted set up, and the new boss was present at Anfield last Sunday – with his right hand man, Sammy Lee – casting his eye over Rodgers’ side ahead of this weekend’s match.
Like Liverpool, it’s been a summer of change for the Saints, who have added some solid new signings to the ranks at St Marys, including England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster, ex-Liverpool transfer target Ryan Bertrand as well as, Dusan Tadic, Saphir Tadier, Graziano Pelle and £12million striker Shane Long, who played under Rodgers while at Championship side, Reading.
Despite the incomplete squad available during their pre-season, Sunday’s opponents enjoyed a healthy warm up campaign, in which they recorded five wins in six friendly fixtures – the only defeat coming at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen last Saturday – and the Saints will be looking to win at Anfield for the second year running.
Starting this campaign the way last ended with weekly televised matches which saw Liverpool pocket record television revenue, the match will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 with kick off at Anfield at 13:30pm.