Now that the July transfer window is full swing, we can really look forward to the coming English Premier League season, which kicks off on Saturday, August 17.
Given the amount of transfer activity around the Premier League, even before July 1—so much so that we could already put out a best XI of player transfers already confirmed in late June—the coming season looks to be one of the most exciting in recent years.
With four signings in Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet already confirmed, Liverpool fans have every reason to be optimistic after an encouraging second half of last season.
So let’s go ahead and look at the opening third of their season. Here are 10 bold predictions for Liverpool’s first 10 EPL games next season—pessimists look away! Enjoy, and let us know your own predictions in the comments below.
Opening 10 EPL fixtures as follows:
Given Stoke City’s limp end to last season, our first prediction, perhaps, isn’t that bold, but one that needs to be made regardless.
Since Mark Hughes arrived at Britannia to replace Tony Pulis, he has made two signings this summer: Erik Pieters from PSV Eindhoven and Marc Muniesa from Barcelona.
Both are encouraging transfers after a discouraging season and may yet prove to be bargain buys, but with a crux clearly limited at the Premier League level, Hughes needs to do a lot of work to ensure Stoke can keep up this season.
Liverpool will easily outclass this Potters side and look to start their new season with a flourish at Anfield.
After Stoke come two tricky fixtures before the first international break of the season: Aston Villa away at Villa Park and Manchester United at home.
Luis Suarez’s outstanding 2012-13 season means that his future at Liverpool—still up for grabs at the time of this writing—will undoubtedly affect his team’s immediate fortunes, not least in two such pivotal matches. Regardless, his 10-game ban will still be in effect.
But we were encouraged by the Reds’ performances in his absence towards the end of last season, and against a young and still inexperienced Villa side—whose top scorer Christian Benteke may not start the season in Villa colors—and a United team just starting to adapt to life after Sir Alex Ferguson, Brendan Rodgers will finish his first three games of the season with nine points.
How’s that for a bold prediction?
Inevitably, there will be a time where Liverpool don’t come away from a game with all three points. And in September, their trip to Swansea City will prove a challenge, as usual.
Michael Laudrup’s side have strengthened impressively this close season, and having established themselves as a top-10 side, the Swans will aim to build on their successful last campaign.
Add to the famous atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium, and we have the ingredients for a tricky away tie for Brendan Rodgers against his ever-evolving former club.
At the final whistle, Liverpool will be glad to have gotten one point from September 14’s fixture.
After Swansea, up next for Liverpool are Southampton, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion, alternating between home and away ties.
No matter the location, on paper this presents a relatively comfortable five-game stretch for Liverpool to get into their groove and hopefully build on a successful opening four games.
There may be the odd banana slip or two—Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to stamp his style on his promising Southampton team, and with a few smart signings, Crystal Palace could become an early-season surprise—but unless Paolo Di Canio and Alan Pardew improve their Sunderland and Newcastle teams dramatically, they won’t present much of a real challenge to the Reds.
By the end of October, Liverpool’s “L” column in the Premier League table should still be reading 0.
On October 19, Newcastle United host Liverpool at St. James’ Park, with a home drubbing to the Reds surely still clear in their minds.
Just a few months ago, Brendan Rodgers’ team started life without Luis Suarez, who was sidelined with an extensive ban, with a 6-0 win in this same fixture, where Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho stole the show for the Reds.
Alan Pardew will be out to prove that he’s the right person to fulfill his outlandish eight-year contract with Newcastle, which means that the same scoreline will be unlikely to be repeated.
Given their limp end to the season and the increasingly tense situation off the field at Newcastle, the Magpies will find it hard to resist a Liverpool team flowing in confidence, making it a tough day for the hosts once again.
An encouraging start to the season won’t ensure an unbeaten run over all 10 games, however, as Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium look to be a formidable challenge.
At the time of this writing, Arsenal have only signed the promising young striker Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre, but with the Daily Mail linking the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Wayne Rooney to the club, it might not be long before Gunners fans have a marquee signing to be excited about.
Regardless, the likes of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere will provide plenty of quality for Liverpool to deal with, and with deadwood like Andrei Arshavin cleared out, Arsene Wenger has the budget to strengthen further.
With or without Higuain and co., Arsenal may prove to be too much for their visitors on November 2.
We’ve been here before, and in fact, Liverpool have been here a bit too often in recent seasons, but the transfer window is notorious for leaving some of its most major deals until the last minute.
Credit must be given to Brendan Rodgers and his management team for identifying and securing the signature of four players even before the summer transfer window opened, but there will be further chops and changes before August 31.
Jonjo Shelvey is currently being linked with a move to Swansea, as reported by the Guardian, while the Luis Suarez-Real Madrid transfer saga has been rumbling on all summer. The ins don’t appear to have ended just yet either, with Shakhtar Donetsk forward Henrikh Mkhitaryan still rumored to be on his way to Anfield, according to the Express.
So the team that takes to the Anfield turf to play against Stoke will look just a bit different than the picture after deadline day and the international break.
Having signed from Celta Vigo for £7 million, as reported by BBC Sport, Aspas will be looking to transfer his talismanic attacking influence, which includes 12 goals in 35 league games in the 2012-13 La Liga season, to Anfield.
Working in tandem with a creative and dynamic group of midfielders and forwards at Liverpool will see Aspas receive plenty of goal-scoring opportunities, as well as create many chances himself.
In a decent opening 10-match period, it’s still a stretch to envision Aspas scoring one every two league games (or even playing all 10), but we predict five goals from the new No. 9 by the start of November.
Ahead of him in the player rankings at Anfield, though, will be their star No. 10, Philippe Coutinho, who has already usurped Steven Gerrard in the shirt sales rankings, according to the Daily Mail.
Signing for Liverpool in the January transfer window from Internazionale, Coutinho notched three goals and five assists in just 13 league games, marking a scintillating start to life as a Liverpool player.
After half a season as arguably Liverpool’s best player and after a whole preseason for other clubs to prepare for the coming campaign, Coutinho will become one of the most feared attacking playmakers in the league—but also one of the most marked.
Ultimately, however, his quality will shine through, and he will finish the first 10 league games as Liverpool’s outstanding player.
The most important thing in the eyes of all parties involved—players, manager and fans alike—is that Liverpool continue to make progress this coming season.
A balanced start to the campaign will help. In the opening 10 games, Liverpool will only face two members of the top seven last season and will have yet to encounter the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.
Those come in the next 10 fixtures, which will present an altogether different prospect as they look to start 2014 in fine form.
But, as they say, Liverpool will “take it one game at a time,” and our final bold prediction is that the Reds will start their next set of 10 matches in the top four, exactly where they will want to be.