AS Roma vs. Liverpool: How the Reds Will Line Up for Friendly in Boston
With his full first-team squad back at his command following the World Cup, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to try out his new signings and perhaps some new tactical approaches during an eventful preseason American tour.
Here’s how we think the Reds will line up on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
With Pepe Reina back at Anfield, Simon Mignolet has international-class competition for his place between the Liverpool posts.
It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top and whether Reina will show enough to convince Brendan Rodgers he was wrong to let him go out on loan last season.
Right-Back: Martin Kelly
After a dismal World Cup campaign for England and an underwhelming season for Liverpool, Glen Johnson will make way for the fit-again Martin Kelly at right-back on Wednesday.
With Andre Wisdom confirmed to spend the coming year on loan with West Bromwich Albion (per The Guardian), Rodgers’ option on the right side of defence is currently limited to Johnson and Kelly. The academy graduate will be keen to finally get his Anfield career back on track.
Left-Back: Jose Enrique
Just like Kelly, Jose Enrique had his last season curtailed by a lengthy injury but finally made his first-team comeback during last Saturday’s friendly against Preston North End.
With Jon Flanagan establishing himself as a first-team option on the left and Rodgers allegedly still targeting Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno (per MARCA.com), Enrique has work to do to convince his boss that the left-back slot is his to lose.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
It seems inconceivable that likely big-money arrival Dejan Lovren will reprise his left-back role for Southampton, given the presence of Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger in the Reds squad.
So Rodgers may be looking to convert Lovren into a right-sided central defender, which could directly affect Martin Skrtel’s place in the team. After improving his goal-scoring output last season, Skrtel’s job is now to stop leaking them—and preferably to stop putting the ball in his own net.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
It’s been a week of mixed messages as far as Daniel Agger is concerned. In the aftermath of Liverpool’s win at his former club Brondby, Brendan Rodgers sang the praises of his vice-captain, but Agger has since reportedly claimed that he is considering his future at Anfield, according to the Daily Mail.
In Rodgers’ eyes, after a stop-start campaign, Agger will need to do more to justify his claims for a first-team place. Mamadou Sakho’s excellent World Cup will have put Agger under more pressure for a starting slot.
Holding Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Steven Gerrard may have stolen the headlines recently with his decision to retire from international football, but it was also a strong indication that the Reds captain is entering the twilight years of his career.
Emre Can seems on paper his most natural successor at the holding midfielder position, but as he nurses a calf injury we will hand Jordan Henderson—Gerrard’s partner in crime so often last season—the starting role. Time to prove that his versatility is useful.
Central Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
Since the second half of last season, Philippe Coutinho has seemingly been deployed in a deeper position than his usual No. 10 role behind the main striker, and with that he has developed his pressing and started to dictate matches from the heart of midfield.
So the addition of Adam Lallana looks as if it won’t affect Coutinho’s place in Rodgers’ team in the long run, but rather complement it. Wednesday presents the perfect opportunity to try a new-look Liverpool midfield against top-quality opposition.
Attacking Midfielder: Adam Lallana
So in front of Coutinho on Wednesday will be Adam Lallana, the only new signing in our lineup for AS Roma.
With a hefty price tag and an impressive last season for Southampton under his belt, the pressure on Lallana will be considerable. But the chance to slot in seamlessly to a team that plays a fluid attacking style was too hard to turn down in the first place.
Right Forward: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling goes straight from England’s starting XI in the World Cup into Liverpool’s, as he looks to hit the ground running after a phenomenal first full season in the Reds’ first team, which saw him nominated as a candidate for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
With Luis Suarez headed for pastures new, Sterling has the opportunity to cement himself not only as one of the hottest attacking prospects in all of Europe, but as the main man in the Liverpool attack.
Left Forward: Jordon Ibe
Opposite Sterling will be fellow academy graduate Jordon Ibe, who has already gone on record stating that he’d like to follow in Sterling’s footsteps and force his way into Brendan Rodgers’ plans for the season.
He’s started this preseason campaign well enough—as the creator of all three of Liverpool’s goals thus far, Ibe has shown that his strength, speed and creativity are all coming along nicely. Now it’s time for him to add the final product to his game.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge completes a young, lightning-quick and tactically astute front three to start the first major fixture in the post-Suarez era.
The overall development and maturation of the Liverpool squad means that Sturridge will likely continue to flourish even without Suarez around, and Wednesday offers the perfect chance for their new main striker to prove that he’s ready to handle the responsibilities of leading the Reds charge this season.