It’s that time!
The Premier League season kicks off today, well with the exception of Arsenal’s 4-3 victory over Leicester on Friday night.
For football fans across the country, it’s something we wait all summer for.
The Reds kick things off with a journey down to what has been to us a very unforgiving Vicarage Road. Our last two results against Watford have bought a 3-0 defeat for the Reds, and a slim 1-0 victory courtesy of Emre Can’s sublime overhead kick, which was voted the Goal of the Season.
Liverpool appear to be in good shape heading into the opening game, however, there are a few players that will miss out:
Daniel Sturridge (Thigh injury, duration 1 week).
Adam Lallana (Thigh injury, duration 2-3 months)
Nathaniel Clyne (Hamstring, 2-3 weeks)
Philippe Coutinho (Back strain, duration – likely to miss opening games v Watford and Hoffenheim).
In his press conference on Friday, Jurgen Klopp said: “Coutinho has back problems. He’s not available. He’s also a doubt for Tuesday unfortunately. He hasn’t trained since last Friday.”
The boss also went on to confirm positive news about Sturridge, “I’m pretty sure Daniel (Sturridge) will be ok for Tuesday.”
Danny Ings is closer to a return following his long rehabilitation program coming to a close, this was due to a lengthy lay off with a knee injury. He plays for the U23’s on Friday night. No return date was given for him, but we wish him all the best for a speedy return.
Klopp will come head to head with talented Portuguese manager Marco Silva, who last season was incredibly unlucky not to keep Hull in the Premier League.
Statistics show that if he maintained the average rate of points he was gaining per game, then Hull would have finished 8th. Impressive.
We are likely to find ourselves against the bulky Troy Deeney leading the line, and perhaps could be partnered by new £18.5 million signing Andre Gray, who no doubt will give us trouble with his pace.
The feeling is, Watford will be happy for us to have the ball but will want to hit us on the counter attack whenever they can. Direct long balls up to Deeney will also be something which wouldn’t be a surprise to see. This is something Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip will need to be well aware of.
It’s obvious we’re going to see a Silva side looking to exploit our weaknesses, this being set pieces, so don’t be surprised if Liverpool need two goals maybe more to take all three points.
The likelihood is we will start the game with Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3, even though we have seen glimpses of a 4-2-3-1 this pre-season, which is refreshing to see.
However with the withdrawals of Lallana and Coutinho, on paper, we seemingly lose that creativity and urge to get forward, with what seems a three of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum will take to the field.
I strongly believe we will see Alberto Moreno and Trent Alexander-Arnold start for the Reds Saturday purely to offer that width and support the team going forward.
It’s difficult to predict the exact XI Klopp will go with as we have one eye on the Hoffenheim game, this is evident with the manager confirming this: “We will prepare for Watford as best we can, but also prepare knowing we have Hoffenheim Tuesday.”
To summarise, looking back through our recent history, the seasons we’ve performed well we’ve had solid starts, so a win against Watford seems vital for the season, and for confidence going into Tuesday.
The game against Watford takes place at Vicarage Road, with the early kick off time of 12:30 pm, and you can catch the game live on Sky Sports.