Those questioning how Liverpool will cope without last season’s top scorer Luis Suarez will come closer to an answer on Sunday, as the Reds take on Southampton to kick off their 2014-15 Premier League campaign.
Manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking to build on an impressive 2013-14 season this time around and has taken to a raid on St. Mary’s in the summer on his mission to do just that.
Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all made the switch to Merseyside in the transfer window, giving the Anfield clash that extra bit of spice.
Date: Sunday, August 17
Time: 1:30 p.m. BST/8:30 a.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (U.K. only)/NBC (U.S. only)
New Recruits Set to Make League Debuts
Liverpool have been the centre of attention during the transfer window—from Suarez’s big-money departure to the attempts to bring a new king to Anfield.
While business may not yet be finished for Rodgers and Co., the attention now turns to the pitch and a feisty-looking season opener.
Southampton proved last term that they’re a club to be feared with an eighth-place finish, but having been stripped of their key stars, they now look a little fragile to say the least.
Said key stars will likely be handed their Premier League debuts for Liverpool on Sunday, and while Lallana will play no part, Lambert and Lovren will be on a mission to haunt their former club.
The latter scored the winning goal for the Saints in this fixture last season, but he’ll now be doing all in his power to keep them out.
It appears that Lovren rather enjoys playing at Anfield, too, having scored on his debut there during a pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund—as Jamie Carragher remarked:
Obviously, goals aren’t what the Croatian’s game is all about, as what he’ll bring to the Reds this season is the solidity and stability at the back that seemed to elude them last term.
Lovren left St. Mary’s under a cloud after the club tried to block his route to Anfield, and while he regrets the circumstances of his departure, he told Liverpool’s official website that he’ll be putting his emotions aside for Sunday’s match:
To play them in the first game was destiny. I will just have to concentrate on my game, on our style and I won't think about Southampton. Maybe there is some regret with how I left Southampton. I said that I wanted to leave because Liverpool is a massive club and maybe I will have this chance just one time in my life. It was not so easy at the beginning. It took a lot of time. But at the end everybody agreed and I shook their hands and said goodbye so now it is finished.
The 25-year-old will have to keep Southampton’s new signing Shane Long quiet at Anfield on Sunday, and while that’s proved a tough task for some in the past, such is Lovren’s approach that he shouldn’t have a problem.
The Saints are in serious need of a restructure after losing their brightest stars, and their trip to Anfield will likely prove just that.
If the Reds’ front line can get firing, then it could be a long afternoon for new Southampton boss Ronald Koeman. And while Suarez may not be around to break down defences anymore, Liverpool have more than enough firepower to get the job done.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Southampton