It’s been a long break from soccer, let’s face it. Horrible Euro 2016 tournament (apart from Iceland doing a ‘close-to’ Leicester, transfer rumors here, there and everywhere, with ridiculous money spent by clubs for over-rated players.
With a little less than 24 hours to KO at Emirates for Liverpool’s first game of the season, I am so glad we can focus on soccer. Proper soccer.
Arsenal facing a defensive crisis while Liverpool lamenting not (yet?) signing a left-back, or even a proper defensive midfielder.
So, what to expect then?
I fancy Liverpool to beat Arsenal, but much would depends on how our defence performs. Namely, Moreno and Mignolet.
It is quite clear that Mignolet(not Mongolia as my mate loves to pronounce as) will start due to an injury to new signing Karius. Pity though, I would love to see how the new man cope with the pressure, making his debut away against a rival team.
Kloop seems certain that he can get the best out of Moreno, which means improving his tactical discipline, positioning, decision making (especially when we are without the ball) and learning how to defend properly.
With Coutinho most likely to be starting on the left-flank cutting inside ahead of him, Arsenal would definitely try to exploit our left flank. The thought of Sanchez, the Ox, and Ramsey would rampaging down our left flank isn’t that promising.
Klavan is likely to start alongside Lovren due to his experience and leadership quality. Matip seems a little too raw for me, not to mention he needs some work in the gym and he’s still very young and inexperienced for a defender.
In midfield, Emre Can should be destined to play in the deeper midfield role alongside Henderson, which will be key to pressing the Arsenal midfielders for the ball in their own half. I would be surprised to see Lallana playing alongside both of them, albeit with the freedom to roam further up the pitch in the final third.
There’s only 2 options for the front three, as Mane and Coutinho will be starting, which leaves the No.9 role either for Origi or Firmino. It is highly unlikely Kloop will hand Sturridge a spot in the starting eleven given how he insisted Sturridge to complete a consecutive set of training sessions before getting the nod to play. Ings isn’t ready yet as well after his ACL tear last season.
Personally I would prefer Origi starting up front to stretch the Arsenal’s defence a little bit more, his diagonal runs down either side of the channels can leave room for the likes of Coutinho Mane and Lallana to thrift in. However, I think Kloop with go for Firmino, having worked with him for the whole of pre-season, which leaves him a favorite to start. Origi might be useful impact sub off the bench if needed.
Predicted starting XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno, Can, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Mane, Firmino.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Cheers!