Liverpool's predicted starting XI vs Stoke City

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Liverpool travel to Stoke City for their first game of the 2015/16 Premier League season on Sunday. For Brendan Rodgers and his side, this fixture could not have come soon enough.

The Reds were left red faced on the final day of last season. They travelled to the Britannia for Steven Gerrard's final game and were thrashed 6-1 by Mark Hughes' men. 

Many wanted Rodgers' head on a stick, but he kept his job following a meeting with the club's owners and has a perfect chance to answer any doubters.


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With seven new faces arriving at Anfield this summer it will be intriguing what formation and starting XI Rodgers opts for in Staffordshire.

Benteke To Lead The Line

So much speculation has surrounded Christian Benteke this summer. After weeks and weeks of chasing the Belgium international, Liverpool finally stumped up the cash to meet Benteke's £32.5 million buy-out clause.

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With the Reds scoring just 52 league goals last season, Rodgers was keen to add more depth to his attacking line. After failing to replace Luis Suarez last summer, paying a large sum and purchasing a proven goalscorer was a must.

With Daniel Sturridge sidelined and prone to injury, Benteke will be Rodgers' main striker this campaign.  All eyes will be on the 24-year-old. He has his doubters, who feel that he may not be able to adapt to Liverpool's style of play. Benteke will have to get used to playing a more passing style and improve his movement if he is to produce.

Raheem Who?

There's no doubt Sterling has talent and would have been an asset to Rodgers' side but his attitude regarding his move to Manchester City angered Liverpool fans.

They weren't all that bothered that the former QPR man left; they got rid of a bad egg, received a monumental amount of money and already had a replacement more than suitable.

Jordon Ibe has always been highly regarded and he looks like he'll play a significant role this season. After thriving at Derby County on loan last term, Ibe was recalled early by Rodgers and thrust into the Liverpool team for the second-half of the campaign.

Throughout pre-season Ibe has played a heavy role in the Liverpool set-up. He scored a belter against a Malaysia XI and against HJK Helsink there was a lot of play that come through the England youth international on the right-hand side. 

Ibe will start on the right-wing and look to inflict his pace into the game. He'll be allowed to cut inside and will also attempt crosses to feed Benteke.

Will Firmino Play?

Roberto Firmino's arrival from Hoffenheim has being praised by many. He cost £29.5 million but has a decent reputation and has a bold record playing for Brazil.

Firmino was granted extended leave after representing his country at the Copa America this summer. He played just his first pre-season game against Swindon Town last Sunday and showed plenty of his talent in the 2-1 win.

The only doubt surrounding his arrival is whether he will meet the physical demands of the Premier League. Stoke are arguably the toughest side in the top flight and have forged a reputation for being 'tough and ready.'

It will be throwing Firmino into the deep end if he is to start at the Britannia and it could potentially be unfair on him If he has a difficult time against the Potters, it could scar him for the rest of his career. Adam Lallana looks a much safer option to start with. 

New Captain

With Gerarard's departure to Los Angeles Galaxy, Jordan Henderson has taken the captain's armband and he has huge boots to fill.

Nobody is expecting Henderson to directly mirror Gerrard, who's a once in a lifetime player.

However, fans want to see the former Sunderland man take his game to the next level and take on more responsibility. Being the captain means inspiring your team-mates in difficult stages of matches and Henderson must do that.

He'll have a new centre-midfield partner in the form of James Milner. He rejected a lucrative £165,000-a-week contract at Manchester City to move to Liverpool after being guaranteed to plan in the centre of the park by Rodgers.

Milner and Henderson will provide excellent work-rate and allow Philippe Coutinho to surge forward playing in the tip of the three midfielders.

Coutinho was a diamond in the rough last season and never failed to amaze. His efforts did not go unnoticed and won four prizes at Liverpool's end of season awards ceremony and was voted in the PFA Team of the Year.  

The former Inter Milan man ended the 2014/15 campaign with just five assists; however, that did not reflect his performances. It was down to poor finishing and, now with Benteke playing upfront, that tally should improve.

New Full-Backs

Out on the wing was where Liverpool were consistently exposed last season. Alberto Moreno's arrival from Sevilla for £12 million was an anti-climax; he was, at the time of signing, reportedly challenging Jordi Alba for a place in the Spanish national team.

Moreno was decent going forward but struggled defensively. Too often he gave wingers space to easily cross the ball. He'd also dive into challenges in unnecessary areas of the pitch and either foul his man or get beaten and create further problems for his team-mates.

Joe Gomez has been favoured by Rodgers in pre-season and has been mightily impressive. At just 18-years-old he's showed maturity beyond age and it will be no surprise if he lines up at the Britannia. Gomez's future is at centre-back but he can certainly fill in at left-back for the time being.

Nobody was complaining when Nathaniel Clyne signed for Liverpool. He's been arguably the best right-back in the Premier League over the past two year's and there's no doubt he'll be a regular in Rodgers' team week in, week out.

Who Will Partner Skrtel

Martin Skrtel will be the principle centre-back this term and will lead the back-four. The problem Rodgers has is who will partner Skrtel throughout the year.

Liverpool conceded 48 goals last season and things need to tighten up at the back. Full-backs are secured but the heart of the defence still needs working on. Based on pre-season, it looks likely Dejan Lovren will get the nod over Mamdou Sakho.

Lovren has many critics and made seven defensive errors last season. He tried to impress too much instead of keeping it simple. He'll be getting immediately judged and a costly mistake could see him go the back of the pecking order if he does.

Simon Mignolet's place looks very secure in the Liverpool goal. Adam Bogdan has replaced Brad Jones but the Hungarian wasn't even first choice at Bolton Wanderers last season and will spend the year sitting amongst the substitutes.

Starting XI

Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Gomez; Milner, Henderson; Coutinho Ibe, Lallana; Benteke


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Adam Lallana
Christian Benteke
Philippe Coutinho
Premier League

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