Predicting the Liverpool Starting XI on the Opening Day of the 2014/15 Season
July is upon us and attention is beginning to turn to the start of the new Premier League season. Some Liverpool players returned to pre-season training this week, with more to follow next week. Indeed, the Reds' first friendly, against Brondby, is less than a fortnight away.
Brendan Rodgers' side confirmed the arrival of Adam Lallana this week to follow up earlier deals for Rickie Lambert and Emre Can.
Meanwhile, Luis Suarez's seemingly imminent departure will leave Rodgers with a large hole to fill in his squad ahead of the new season. What happens over the next month could mean a new look Liverpool side come the opening day.
What does seem certain is that Rodgers has identified left-back as an area he wishes to strengthen, while attacking players also continue to be linked with Anfield.
Here we predict Liverpool's starting XI for their opening Premier League game against Southampton.
GK: Simon Mignolet
The Belgian is one of just two Liverpool players still in Brazil, although he is yet to appear for Belgium. Despite international commitments meaning he'll report for pre-season training later than the rest of the squad, Simon Mignolet will still be the Reds' No. 1 on the opening day.
After mixed first season for the 26-year-old, Mignolet will be looking to begin the new campaign in the same manner as he did on the opening day last season, when he saved a stoppage-time penalty against Stoke City.
RB: Jon Flanagan
Youngster Jon Flanagan had an outstanding 2013/14, and provided Liverpool sign the left-back Brendan Rodgers desires, Flanagan will oust Glen Johnson from the starting right-back berth.
Johnson's contract situation means he may even leave the club this summer if Rodgers feels that Flanagan, along with fellow academy graduate Andre Wisdom, can cope on the right of the defence.
CB: Martin Skrtel
One of Liverpool's key men last season, Martin Skrtel could find his place under threat if reported targets such as Dejan Lovren arrive, but for now his place is assured.
The 29-year-old will be fully involved in pre-season and look to improve further.
CB: Mamadou Sakho
Mamadou Sakho has shown for France at the World Cup why Liverpool paid £18 million for him last summer, and he is a player who is expected to become a key component of a new-look Liverpool defence.
Aged 24, Sakho will benefit from having a season in England under his belt.
LB: Alberto Moreno
If a deal for Moreno doesn't materialise, or no other left-back is signed in time for the opening day, then Jon Flanagan or Jose Enrique would line up at left-back.
New signing Emre Can, more naturally a central midfielder, is also an option at left-back.
CM: Steven Gerrard
The Liverpool skipper will continue in the deep-lying playmaker role that he occupied in the latter half of last season, anchoring the midfield and dictating play.
He may have turned 34 since the end of the season, but Steven Gerrard remains as important as ever to Liverpool.
CM: Jordan Henderson
Ahead of Gerrard in a three-man midfield will be Jordan Henderson, unlike for England where Roy Hodgson wrongly played the 24-year-old next to his skipper in a flat two-man midfield.
Henderson's boundless energy and ability to press opponents allows Gerrard the space to create from deeper.
CM: Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho will be the third midfielder, benefitting from a full pre-season and now fully at home in England.
The Brazilian magician excelled in midfield in games against Everton and Tottenham in particular at Anfield last season, showing improving tenacity and work ethic.
FWD: Adam Lallana
Playing from the left of the front three against his former club will be new signing Adam Lallana.
Lallana spent 14 years at Southampton before switching St Mary's for Anfield and will be a key player for Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15.
FWD: Daniel Sturridge
Regardless of Luis Suarez's possible transfer to Barcelona, the Uruguayan is suspended until November, meaning Daniel Sturridge will be the main man in attack for Liverpool—as he was in the opening fixtures last season.
Sturridge scored 24 goals in all competitions last season and will be looking for a similarly prolific campaign.
FWD: Raheem Sterling
On the right of attack is Raheem Sterling, the gifted teenager who shone for Liverpool in 2014.
He, Lallana and Coutinho are a trio of players who can interchange with one another and cause defences problems.
Even without the possible signings that may yet arrive this summer, Brendan Rodgers' squad is already improved from last season.
With that starting XI, Rodgers could name a subs bench consisting of:
GK: Brad Jones
CB: Daniel Agger
FB : Glen Johnson / Jose Enrique
CM: Joe Allen
CM: Emre Can
FWD: Rickie Lambert
FWD: Fabio Borini
Of course, should Liverpool sign Alexis Sanchez as part of any potential Luis Suarez deal, that would change the picture entirely, as would the arrival of other players at Anfield.