Rousing the Kop has a go at predicting the lineup for the Premier League opener this weekend!
On Sunday Liverpool begin their Premier League season away from home against Arsenal. There is usually a lot of hype for a clash as big as this but given that it’s the opening day of the season the excitement from fans is escalated further.
Both sides are struggling with injuries, especially in defence, but when it comes down to it everything will be decided on the pitch. I wouldn’t put it past Arsene Wenger managing to wrangle a win with a weakened side. Arsenal will be without Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud for the game and Alexis Sanchez is a doubt given the limited amount of game time he’s had in pre-season.
Here is what a few of Rousing the Kop’s columnists think could be seen on display at the Emirates on Sunday:
Michael Baddeley’s prediction:
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XI: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno, Grujic, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Firmino, Mané
This Sunday we’re going to spend a lot of time chasing the ball so I’ve gone for a team that I think is capable of pressing high up the field when needed, but also has the patience to knick it and use the speed we posses to counter-attack and hopefully punish a weakened Arsenal defence.
In reality this defence, including Mignolet, is the only one we can field that would be fully fit. That being said, Klavan and Lovren would have been my two centre backs anyway due to the promising signs they’ve shown in the games they’ve played together.
Midfielders were tough to choose. Lallana was good in the demolishing of Barcelona, but I feel Wijnaldum could be key with bursting runs forward. Grujic adds real strength to the side and has been brilliant in pre-season. Emre Can is the heart of our midfield and could be key in controlling the game when we do have the ball.
Front three is self explanatory, Mane has been brilliant all pre-season, Firmino will drop into the holes and help link up the play and Coutinho, well, there’s nothing to say about him. If he’s on his day then he is just so majestic and his link up play with Firmino can be so destructive.
Liverpool to win 3-1.
Dylan Gerstley’s prediction:
XI: Mignolet, Moreno, Klavan, Lovren, Clyne, Can, Wijnaldum, Coutinho, Lallana, Mané, Firmino
There are a few surprise inclusions here as well as players forced in due to injuries. It seems Alberto Moreno claims the left back position by default after James Milner’s knock against Barcelona. If the Englishman can get fit in time for Arsenal, he will anchor the left side. After Mamadou Sakho’s off field issues and Joel Matip’s injury recovery, it seems certain Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan will start in center defense.
Lovren has looked solid throughout the preseason and seems to be much more confident in a red shirt. Klavan has already impressed with his composure and solidity and will certainly play well. Nathaniel Clyne obviously gets the start and Simon Mignolet starts between the sticks due to Loris Karius’s injury.
Can and Wijnaldum will sit deep in the midfield. Their energy and dynamism will be dangerous going forward but some smart play will be needed defensively to keep a clean sheet. Mané and Coutinho have impressed in preseason, the former especially against Barcelona. The new signing will set the right ablaze with pace and attacking creativity. Lallana gets the start after some impressive work against Barcelona with tremendous stamina, skill, and impact throughout his time on the pitch.
Firmino played well throughout the preseason and seems to be truly hitting his stride under Klopp. With Sturridge injured and Origi a tad inexperienced it will be the Brazilian who gets the nod.
3-0 win to the Reds.
Michael Mongie’s prediction:
XI: Mignolet, Moreno, Klavan, Lovren, Clyne, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino, Mané
I would stick Alex Manninger in goal purely out of spite but I think Mignolet could actually be the better ‘keeper. I know, I was surprised too. Lovren and Klavan have formed a tasty looking defensive pairing that shutout the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Nathaniel Clyne is easily the best right back in England so naturally he will slot in. I’m not even going to write any words about Alberto Moreno other than to say he’s rubbish.
In midfield I’d love to see the same performances that we saw against Barcelona from Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. Their pressing will be vital to stifling Arsenal’s free flowing football. Gini Wijnaldum is a tidy player and doesn’t look out of place in the middle of the park either.
Liverpool’s front three of Coutinho, Firmino and Mané practically guarantees you goals. The last time Liverpool played at the Emirates Hector Bellerin sold his soul to Coutinho so I don’t think we’ll struggle too much going forward especially given Arsenal’s defensive injury crisis.
I’m going to go all out and predict a throwback to when Liverpool devastated Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield in 2014.