Liverpool vs. Southampton, Anfield – Sunday 17 August, 13:30pm
The Reds have transformed their squad somewhat this summer, having made eight signings (so far) following the announcement of a deal for Spanish left-back Alberto Moreno.
Three of these players — Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren — have arrived from their opponents on Sunday. The Saints choosing to capitalise on their players’ high stock following a successful period under Mauricio Pochettino.
Pochettino left the club for Spurs at the beginning of the summer, and Calum Chambers, Luke Shaw, Dani Osvaldo and Billy Sharp have also joined Lambert, Lallana and Lovren through the exit door.
This has meant new manager Ronald Koeman has had to start life at Southampton with an almost blank canvas. The Dutchman has signed five new players so far, with more promised.
The Southampton side that challenges Liverpool on Sunday will be far removed from the side that defeated the Reds early on last season.
So who are Southampton’s new boys?
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) June 16, 2014
New manager Koeman was appointed mid-way through June, and as such has had around two months to stamp his identity on a thin squad.
The 51-year-old was an attacking central defender in his playing days, which saw spells with Gronigen, Ajax, PSV, Barcelona and Feyenoord.
In a period of six years from 1989 to 1995 at Barcelona, Koeman scored a remarkable 67 goals in 192 appearances — the Dutchman was renowned for his accurate free-kicks.
As a manager, Koeman has taken charge of Ajax, Benfica, Valencia and Feyenoord amongst others.
Joining Koeman in the dugout will be former Red Sammy Lee, and the pair will look to establish a typically Dutch brand of possession-based, attacking football at Southampton.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 10, 2014
England goalkeeper Fraser Forster joined Southampton from Celtic in a deal worth around £10 million.
The gargantuan shot-stopper will likely usurp former regular Saints No. 1 Artur Boruc between the sticks from the off, and Forster’s ability demands this.
A great reflex stopper, Forster also has a dominant command of his box, particularly useful given the loss of Lovren this summer.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 31, 2014
Former Chelsea man Ryan Bertrand was, seemingly, a long-term target for Rodgers at Liverpool, but—luckily—the Reds eventually plumped for Moreno.
The Englishman is a solid left-back option with considerable experience, namely in the Champions League, of which Bertrand boasts a winners’ medal after having successfully shackled Bayern Munich’s right flank.
Not quite enough for Liverpool, but Bertrand will have a point to prove with the Saints.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 6, 2014
With Osvaldo moving on loan to Inter, the Serie A side sent one of their own to the south coast in return, with Saphir Taider joining the Saints on a season-long loan deal.
A 22-year-old Algerian midfielder, Taider is, according to Koeman, “part of our philosophy to bring in talented, young players.”
“He can play as a controlled midfielder, but he can also move up around the box and up front,” the manager continued, referencing the loanee’s versatility—Taider is another player that can make up for the loss of Lallana.
With two appearances for Algeria at the World Cup, Taider is well-oiled ready for the season to commence.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 10, 2014
Onto a lesser-known name, Serbian playmaker Dusan Tadic has, ostensibly, been tasked with filling the void left by Adam Lallana as the Saints’ principal creative outlet.
A £10.9 million signing from Dutch side FC Twente, Tadic is clearly one from Koeman’s file-o-fax.
The 25-year-old scored 16 goals and made 14 assists in 33 games for the Eredivisie side last season, according to Squawka—a substantial return for an attacking midfielder.
Tadic will be looking to translate this form into the Premier League and, although the gulf in quality between the two leagues is vast, Liverpool should be well aware of the merits of signings from the Dutch league.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 12, 2014
The man Koeman has acquired for the task is Italian centre-forward Graziano Pelle, who joins from the manager’s old club Feyenoord on a three-year deal.
Pelle scored 55 goals in 66 games under Koeman in the Eredivisie, and the 51-year-old will be hoping this ability can be applied in the Premier League.
Described by The Guardian as a “Lambert-style late bloomer,” Saints fans will be hoping this is truly the case.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 13, 2014
A move to the south coast will be the Irishman’s second transfer in a year, having only joined Steve Bruce’s side in January.
If a deal is completed in time, it is likely Long would feature at Anfield on Sunday.
Likely Southampton line-up vs. Liverpool: Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand; Wanyama, Davis, Ward-Prowse; Pelle, Tadic, Long
How will Liverpool fare against Southampton on Sunday? Let us know in the comments below.