There’s a strong connection between the two clubs, Liverpool and Southampton, playing their first match of the season against each other, as the hosts have added three of their rival’s players over the course of this summer which they are hoping will be a big part of the new and difficult tests they have waiting for them this season in the Premier League and the Champions League.
Liverpool signed quite a few new players this summer, including three from Southampton: Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana. Lallana won’t be playing in this match due to injury. The same goes for Lazar Markovic (signed from Benfica), Jon Flanagan and Daniel Agger. Southampton will miss Jay Rodriguez, one of the few remaining key names from the last couple of seasons, which seems to be the only injury problem for Ronaldo Koeman, making his competitive debut on the sidelines for the club.
The Saints have made quite a few signings from all the money they’ve made off of their departing players this summer: Shane Long, Dusan Tadic, Fraser Forster, Graziano Pelle, Florin Gardos and some loanees making their returns. Almost like a brand new team, hoping to do as well as they did last season, which means finishing in the upper half of the table.
Liverpool are a bit more ambitious than that and have their demolition of Dortmund to rely on from their previous friendly. Obviously, that’s not the best indicator of what will happen. Making up for the loss of Luis Suarez (which brought in a lot of cash) is difficult, impossible even. Daniel Sturridge will get his goals, but will the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling take their game to another level in order to help him out?
Steven Gerrard comes back for another effort of winning a championship. Like it or not, the failure of last season’s title bid in the final stretch has something (or a lot) to do with his slip in that Chelsea match. That has to be weighing down on him to a certain degree, but he knows quite well that what happened last season wasn’t planned, and Liverpool unless they add another prominent striker, don’t look like a team with enough to go all the way.
It’s hard to see how Southampton win this one, but they have their 1-0 win at Anfield from last season to count on. They’re a new team still coming together. Liverpool have new players, but it’s a work in motion for Rodgers, who probably knows a lot more about who can do what for him and in what formation.