Liverpool and Southampton Are the Premier League's Most Unpredictable Sides

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2014


The Premier League is back. And boy, it feels good to say that. The residual contentment that the World Cup brought has dissipated, and we're ready for football to start again. It's good to have it back.

The summer has, of course, seen changes aplenty across the English top-flight, with new managers, new styles and new players all across the division.

The two clubs that have seen perhaps the most upheaval meet on Sunday at Anfield, as Liverpool in the post-Luis Suarez world meet Southampton, who are barely recognisable from the team that performed so well last season.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Southampton Manager Ronald Koeman before the start of the pre season friendly match between Southampton and Bayer Leverkusen at St Mary's Stadium on August 9, 2014 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Robin Parker/Getty Ima
Robin Parker/Getty Images

Their manager is gone, Mauricio Pochettino tempted away by bigger things at Tottenham to be replaced by Ronald Koeman, while Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert have all been sold.

Five of the team that started Southampton's win at Anfield last September are gone, while the arrival of Fraser Forster means Artur Boruc could be on his way out too.

The new boss is certainly saying all the right things about the season ahead. He was quoted by Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph as saying:

We know they had a great season and it will not be easy to reach eighth place but we will try.

We will keep our philosophy. We have our way of thinking that the team has to play. It will be possession dominated football, pressing to the opponent, giving young players the possibility to come in.

It's a similar story with Liverpool. While obviously not as many players have left them as Southampton, the arrival of so many as they attempt to fill the void left by Suarez will give Brendan Rodgers a different sort of problem this season.

Will the likes of Lallana and Lazar Markovic slot in to the side as seamlessly as he'd hope? Will they, between them, be able to replicate something close to the impact Suarez had on the team? Is Lovren really a significant upgrade on the central defenders already at the club?

Rodgers is, of course, optimistic about the season ahead, telling the official Liverpool website this week:

It's the most competitive league in the world and this is one of the biggest clubs in the world. It's a team that plays exciting football. I'm happy with the players we have got in, and we'll be set up for an exciting season.

Outward optimism seems to be the key theme from both clubs, but it cannot be denied that there has been a sense of vaguely controlled chaos around both this summer.

Their performances last season were beyond expectations, but at the same time it suggested that both could use the campaign as a springboard to achieve something better.

Uncredited/Associated Press

Liverpool very nearly won the league, so with some shrewd additions to improve the depth of their squad, they could realistically have another proper charge at the top prize.

Southampton finished eighth with a largely young squad who had yet to reach the peak of their talents, and if they had stayed together they could have gone on to bigger things.

In truth there wasn't much either side could have realistically done about the player departures over the summer, such is the way of modern football, but it's undeniable that the upheaval over close-season means the coming campaign is, at best, hugely unpredictable for both.

We won't see the answers to the questions hanging over both sides on Sunday, but it will undoubtedly be an interesting first chapter to the story.