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Liverpool predicted starting XI vs Bournemouth

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A decent start - but improvements are much needed.

That was the overall verdict of Liverpool's 1-0 away win against Stoke City on the opening day of the 2015/16 Premier League season.

The Britannia is never an easy destination to travel to and Mark Hughes employed tactics to make the game as scrappy as possible and enforce the Reds could not play the free-flowing footballing they desired.

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Philippe Coutinho's solo piece of magic five minutes from the final whistle gave Liverpool the three points and now they host newly-promoted Bournemouth at Anfield on Monday night.

Benteke To Play Solo

Read over the first line of this article and that summarises Christian Benteke's maiden game for the Reds.

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There were signs he has potential to become the 20 goals plus-per-season striker that Brendan Rodgers so badly desires. The Belgium international linked numerous times with Coutinho throughout the match and looked to be eager on the move into space.

However, there were also times when the likes of Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and even goalkeeper Simon Mignolet where hitting long balls early towards Bentenke.

Powerful when he's on the ball, but without it at his feet, he is not blessed with the greatest of pace to run onto a loose ball. Long balls were wasted often and when they did find the 24-year-old's head or chest, there was no around in support for the knock-down.

Understandably, Rodgers wanted to return to Merseyside with at least one points - especially after last season's embarrassing 6-1 loss at the Britannia - and that is a reason why tactics weren't as fruitful as some fans desired.

With more space and intent when on the attack, Benteke will be expected to move a lot more and chances will be much more frequent.

Firmino To Make First Start

Out of Liverpool's seven summer signings, Kopites are most excited and intrigued to witness Roberto Firmino.

He arrives at Anfield with a stellar reputation, forged in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim and also has a bold record for Brazil having scored four times in ten appearances.

For £29.5 million, Reds fans want a world-beater and someone who will thwart them into the top-four.

Firmino made his debut with ten minutes to go against the Potters. He didn't have all that much time to make a massive impression, but he showed glimpses of his class on the ball and his ability to make subtle movements that caused problems for the opposition.

Adam Lallana's performance wasn't the most inspiring against Stoke and struggled to make an impact on the left-hand side, even when cutting in with the ball.

This looks a perfect opportunity for Firmino to get his first start and make a mark on Rodgers' team.

Jordon Ibe didn't get the greatest service on the right-wing in Staffordshire but he showed that he can keep the width for his side. When he did get the ball, he showed plenty of intent to run at defenders boasting his power and pace and should have more joy against Bournemouth.

Can Unlucky To Miss Out

At the tip of the midfield three, Coutinho will once again pull the strings for Liverpool.

He is rapidly becoming one of the Premier League's greatest stars and his ability to menace defenders and score jaw-dropping goals is saturating as every match goes by.

Henderson and James Milner also played in the midfield against Stoke. Whereas last season it was Henderson who played the box-to-box role, Milner has seemingly snatched that position for the foreseeable future.

It's a little harsh on Henderson but, as captain, he's absorbed the new role of shielding the back-four.

Last game, there was no real composure in the heart of the midfield until Emre Can came on. The Germany Under-21 international came on with 30 minutes to go and grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck when he took over playing defensive midfield and allowed Henderson the freedom and pushing up further.

However, with Milner overall having a decent game and Rodgers highly unlikely to drop his captain, Can will start on the bench once again. If things aren't going to plan against the visitors, there's an able deputy to come off the bench and calm the storm.

Improved Back-Four

Liverpool's defence over the past two season's has no doubt been their achilles heel and conceded a combined 98 goals in the league. 

It was a burning issue Rodgers had to solve in the summer and, based on the opener against Stoke, he has had early success.

Right-back was an unstable position last season with numerous people playing both their and wing-back (depending on formation). That issue seems to be over with the arrival of Nathaniel Clyne who was solid against the Potters and made all but one mistake. Clyne didn't thrust forward as much as he did for Southampton last campaign but playing at Anfield will give him many more opportunities to go on the overlap. 

Joe Gomez is just 18-years-old but he impressed significantly against Stoke. He was handed the task of marking the always dangerous Jonathan Walters and Gomez stepped up to the challenge remarkably.

Dejan Lovren was given the nod to start alongside Martin Skrtel at centre-back. Lovren was well below the pace for Liverpool last term but started this season as a completely new player. He was more positive in his decision making, tacking and heading and performed impressively.

It was in fact Skrtel who was the pressing concern at the Britannia. His tendencies to make silly fouls in needless areas and create problems for his side as well as playing poor back-passes.

It was a good job that Simon Mignolet was aware and off his line to mop up Skrtel's mistakes. The former Sunderland man made a fine stop from a Charlie Adam free-kick and also collected the ball well in the air. His kicking was still not up to scratch but that will improve.

Starting XI

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

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Topics:
Bournemouth
Football
Liverpool
Premier League

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