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vs

SOUTHAMPTON FC

Anfield, Liverpool

August 17 2014; 13:30 GMT

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Team News and Tactics

Liverpool

Liverpool enter the new season beginning what seems like a new era – one without Luis Suarez. The sale of Liverpool’s Player of the Year has triggered a steady flow of new signings into Anfield, the bulk of whom have come from the team that they now face on the first day of the season. Liverpool have come off a relatively mixed preseason, losing to Brondby yet defeating Manchester City, losing to Manchester United and then defeating Borussia Dortmund at home. Most of this time, however, has been spent in trying to bed in the likes of Rickie Lambert and Emre Can into the squad.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is likely to put out the same starting lineup as the one that thumped Borussia Dortmund 4-0 last Sunday. The signing of Alberto Moreno is not yet confirmed, while Jon Flanagan is still out of action thanks to a knee injury, so the much maligned Glen Johnson will keep his place in the side.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Simon Mignolet; Javier Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Glen Johnson; Steven Gerrard, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson; Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge

Liverpool vs Southampton - Probable Lineup |

Southampton

Southampton were one of the Barclays Premier League’s surprise packages over the first half of the season under the management of Mauricio Pochettino, but could now well be the surprise package of the season once again thanks to the mass sale of players from the squad.

Dutch football legend Ronald Koeman has taken over a squad that has been steadily dismantled over the summer, and has gone about replacing the likes of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren with others who either have experience in the Premier League or in the Eridivisie. Koeman knows the Dutch league extremely well, and has used that knowledge to bring in the likes of Italian striker Graziano Pelle and Serbian winger Dusan Tadic. Koeman will attempt to start at least 5 new summer signings, including former Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fraser Forster; Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand; Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis; Dusan Tadic, Graziano Pelle

Key Facts

  1. Liverpool have scored at least 2 goals in 15 out of their last 16 home games in the Premier League.
  2. Liverpool have won 1 out of their last 5 opening fixtures in the Premier League (1-0 vs Stoke City in 2013).

Player to Watch

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

The Brazilian midfielder’s exclusion from the World Cup had shocked many, to say the least. The lack of creativity within that Brazil squad was evident during the 7-0 drubbing by Germany in the semifinals. That being said, Coutinho’s exclusion from that squad could well turn out to be a blessing. He has been relatively fresh compared to his teammates who played at the tournament; and his performances this preseason has shown it. He will be Liverpool’s most important player on Sunday, especially since Luis Suarez is no longer at the club.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton

Playing their first game at home will be a huge advantage for Liverpool, and given how vital Liverpool’s opening day victory was for them last season, it will be vital for Liverpool to clinch 3 points on Sunday. The wholesale changes at Southampton make them difficult to second guess, but Liverpool should have enough in the tank to get the job done.

Blast from the Past