West Brom vs Liverpool: Picking the Best Reds XI for Victory in League Opener
The wait for the new Premier League season is nearing its end.
And when it finally does—this Saturday—us footie fanatics will get to enjoy the enthralling experience which is the English Premier League for a whole new time again.
However, for the gazillions of Liverpool supporters around the world, this Saturday marks the beginning of a new era—the Brendan Rodgers era—as they expectantly hope that the Irishman takes the mighty Reds back to where they belong, as one of the original title contenders.
And the first step in that process begins at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion under new manager, Steve Clarke.
For Clarke—who served as assistant manager under Kenny Dalglish—the opportunity (with the Baggies) marks his first as head coach with a club playing at the top level.
And he will ensure that his team walks away with all the honours by exploiting the weaknesses of the Liverpool players of which he knows too much.
So, expect Rodgers’ men to run into some tough competition.
However, one can’t rule out the fact that the gaffer may have something special up his sleeve for the special occasion.
Rodgers has tried out two formations so far during the preseason and the qualifying matches for the Europa league.
One was the tiki-taka heavy 4-3-3 and the other was an ambitious 4-4-2 diamond type formation.
Rodgers may begin with either of these formations and may ask the team to morph into the other as the play progresses.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at the best Reds XI that can probably guarantee victory on D-Day.
It’s not like there need to be a discussion over this spot.
It has been Pepe Reina’s spot for a long time.
And it will remain his spot at least for the foreseeable future.
Central Defenders—Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger
The agenda should be to select the best central defensive pairing.
Rumours continue to stay afloat regarding Danny Agger’s future, but the Great Dane remains committed to the cause.
And that is reason enough to start him unless, of course, concerns rise over his fitness.
Martin Skrtel should start the game regardless of who he partners with. The Slovakian international has been in top shape and will only continue to improve as the season progresses.
Full-Backs—Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique
Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique have performed decently during the preseason to guarantee their places.
Johnson may be a fitness concern with regards to his hamstring, having played a gruelling schedule previously which included full-time participation at UEFA Euro 12.
Enrique seems to have adjusted a lot better to Rodgers’ system than perceived and should look forward to enjoying yet another season without a solid challenger at his position.
Central Midfielders—Lucas Leiva, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen/Jonjo Shelvey
The three midfielders who form the crux of the 4-3-3 formation will have their work cut out for them on Saturday.
Expect Lucas Leiva to take up the role of the “destroyer” in the midfield triumvirate.
Steven Gerrard is widely expected to take up a free role with attacking as his preference.
The final member of the midfield trio could either be new signing Joe Allen or the hugely impressive Jonjo Shelvey.
Shelvey put in impressive performances during the preseason stint. So, Rodgers will be correct to give the youngster a chance to further that momentum.
Joe Allen, too, was equally impressive during his Team GB stint whilst playing alongside unfamiliar names.
Either way, the third member of the trio will act as the midfield anchor, controlling the play, creating opportunities from deep within and occasionally surging forward.
Forwards (Wide/Centre)—Stewart Downing, Luis Suarez, Fabio Borini
The three-member attack system—which hopes to solve the finishing dilemmas of Liverpool of the past season—consists of two wide forwards and one central poacher.
Borini showcased the poacher qualities in him when he opened the scoring against FC Gomel at Anfield.
Suarez will continue to do what he does best by acting as a decoy—dragging the opposition markers along with him and thereby opening up space for his team mates near the opposition's goal.
The Premier League opener is important on so many levels.
A positive result on match day one provides that nitrous boost to a team’s momentum.
It helps with the confidence building measures undertaken by the manager.
Liverpool has a new manager, who is looking to make a mark and gain the trust of the supporters through a few positive results.
A win against the Baggies will go a long way in helping the Reds be supreme because every point counts.