Going into the new season Liverpool will be looking to forget about the misery of the last campaign and build on the positive pre-season they have had.
The Anfield club have been busy in the past months both in the restructuring of the coaching team and the recruitment of 7 new players.
A formula that Brendan Rodgers will hope is successful when they begin the new campaign at Stoke on 9th August.
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In this article I will be looking at the most likely line-up Rodgers will select at the Britannia Stadium, based on the understanding that there will be no more arrivals in Merseyside before this game.
It is more than likely that Rodgers will opt for a 4-3-3 formation, which has been regularly used in pre-season and seems to be a favourite of the Northern Irish manager.
Goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet
An easy selection to start. Simon Mignolet has held the position for the past two seasons, with a varied reception from supporters. The Belgian’s position was further questioned during an inconsistent spell in December, where he was dropped. When he returned, his performances were resurrected, keeping 8 clean sheets between January and March. Mignolet will almost definitely be starting at the Britannia.
Right-back – Nathaniel Clyne
A second almost definite starter. The England international was purpose bought by the reds as the solution to the troublesome position in recent times. The player signed from Southampton in the summer will add much needed Premier League experience to Liverpool’s defence at Stoke.
Centre-back – Martin Skrtel
After a difficult couple of years at Anfield, the Slovak has cemented his place as the clubs most reliable and consistent defender and firmly in Rodgers’ plans for the new season. Very often when the long serving defender plays well, so do the rest of the team.
Centre-back – Mamadou Sakho
Possibly the position in the team that causes the most controversy, splitting fans opinions as to who they believe should partner Skrtel at the back: Dejan Lovren or Mamadou Sakho? the latter being the most probable to start the season alongside the Slovakian. The reds looked more solid when Sakho played last season and he has the added advantage of being naturally left-footed, making him the more preferable option for Rodgers.
Left-back – Alberto Moreno
Another position that has caused some debate amongst fans, especially with the immediate rise of Joe Gomez during pre-season. However, it is Moreno that I have chosen, mainly due to the Premier League experience he endured last season, as well as the hope that Moreno has developed defensively from last season.
Defensive Midfield – Lucas Leiva
Lucas wouldn’t be everyone choice as a starter but due to Emre Can’s late return to training, it is likely that the Brazilian will be tasked with the challenge of protecting the back four from Bojan and Co.
Centre Midfield – Jordan Henderson
The new captain will surely be amongst the first names on Rodgers’ team sheet. The former Sunderland player adds both attacking energy that may be needed to counter attack against an improving Stoke side. The captain will be looking to get off to the perfect start on August 9 and begin his reign as Liverpool’s leader on a high.
Centre Midfield – James Milner
Captain Henderson will likely be partnered by fellow England international James Milner at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield. The Yorkshireman will add more energy and experience to the midfield as well as a new goal scoring threat following his productive pre-season in front of goal.
Attacking Midfield – Phillippe Coutinho
The reds will be hoping that ‘the magician’ will be hitting his best form once more next season, but it is more than likely the Brazilian may take some time to find his form following a long summer at the Copa America. If this is the case, it is likely that he may be replaced by young Jordan Ibe at some point in the second half.
Attacking Midfield – Adam Lallana
Whilst the Brazilian is pretty much a guaranteed starter, the real question comes with who will be playing alongside him at kick off. The most likely candidate is Englishman Adam Lallana, who struggled last season, fighting injury after injury, but has excelled in pre-season. Some fans may expect a starting place for new signing Roberto Firmino however it is likely that Rodgers will work the Brazilian in slowly.
Striker – Christian Benteke
Following the Belgian’s move to Anfield eyebrows were raised regarding the player and the fee. Benteke will be under immense pressure to deliver on Merseyside. Rodgers has defended the move in the press and will hope that a good performance at Stoke from the forward will further silence the doubters. The Belgian's presence should occupy Stoke's central defenders for the likes of Coutinho and Lallana to find space.