Matt Stinton takes a look at what Liverpool’s starting XI could look like come their Premier League trip to Watford on August 12th.
Jürgen Klopp’s pledge to get all of the summer’s new signings in before pre-season hasn’t exactly gone to plan and fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the slow progress of the Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keïta deals.
With our first Premier League game – a trip to Watford – just over two weeks away, time is running out to make changes to the starting eleven. Here’s how I think we’ll line up on Saturday 12th.
Goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet
When Loris Karius came in last summer he was supposed to be the club’s new number one, but it hasn’t worked out that way so far for the young German; a handful of mistakes and some career-best form from Mignolet meant he lost his place in the team.
I think he’ll still end up as first choice and be eased into the team throughout the upcoming season, but Mignolet will most likely start to begin with.
Right back – Nathaniel Clyne
This was one of the easiest choices to make in this team prediction as Clyne has established himself as the first choice right back in the two years since he became a red.
This however, may not be the case for much longer, as the rapid rise of local young talent Trent Alexander-Arnold has given him some competition for the first time in his Liverpool career. For now, though, Trent is not quite ready.
Centre back – Jöel Matip
Matip was easily our best defender last season, so let’s hope he can avoid injuries for this campaign. The more I see him play, the more I’m amazed we got him for free. It remains to be seen who will play next to him, but Jöel will certainly start.
Centre back – Virgil van Dijk
I’m beginning to have some serious doubts over the Naby Keïta deal, but recent news has made me more confident that van Dijk will soon be on his way to Liverpool.
He has recently been training alone and hasn’t travelled with the Southampton squad on their pre season tour; that doesn’t sound like a player you want to keep. The main issue, of course, will be actually negotiating with Southampton, but I think we can get it done.
Left back – James Milner
Of course, Milner isn’t a natural left back, but he did a decent job in an unfamiliar position last season when he was needed badly. The signing of Robertson is a long term solution to our left back problem, but I’m not sure if he’ll start straight away. I’d be reasonably happy with either starting.
Centre midfield – Jordan Henderson
Our captain is fit again and will definitely start unless he suffers another injury. Some would argue that Emre Can’s performances towards the end of last season warrant a starting spot, but I still think Henderson will be picked ahead of him if both are fully fit.
Hopefully, he can put his injury problems of the last two years behind him and enjoy a successful season.
Centre midfield – Georginio Wijnaldum
Ideally, Naby Keïta would be named here but with some sources suggesting he’s coming and others saying there’s no chance, I’ve got absolutely no idea whether this transfer will end up happening.
Wijnaldum is more than capable, though. He scored some vital goals last season to help us achieve that top four spot. If he could score away from home, he’d be amazing.
Centre midfield – Philippe Coutinho
I don’t think he’s going anywhere, not this summer anyway. The Brazilian has taken his game to the next level and should, in my opinion, stay and have a truly world class season before he makes the big move.
Selling him would be disastrous as there is no realistic replacement who could do what he does for us.
Right wing – Mohamed Salah
With some of the massive transfer fees being paid this summer, £36.9 million for Salah is starting to look like a pretty good deal.
He has made an instant impact in pre season and will hopefully continue this form into the Premier League and Champions League. He and Sadio Mané could be unstoppable together.
Left wing – Sadio Mané
Undoubtedly our Player of the Season by some distance until Coutinho’s end of season form, Mané was one of the signings of the summer last year.
His pace and goalscoring ability drastically improved the team and his was made even more clear when we struggled in his absence, either due to the African Cup of Nations or injury. He is back in training now and I expect another good season.
Striker – Roberto Firmino
Some fans often get frustrated with the fact that Firmino doesn’t score too many goals, but none can deny what he brings to the team; his pressing and movement are vital to our system, which is why Daniel Sturridge starting is so rare.
Hopefully, he can add more goals to his game this season, but he is important to the team regardless. I’m sure he’ll be Klopp’s first choice in this position.,
What do you think Liverpool’s starting XI will look like against Watford on August 12th? Let us know in the comments below!