Finally, the new season is upon us. Excitement is in the air and every football fan up and down the country feels like Christmas is around the corner. Despite the festivities of the World Cup, there is simply no substitute to the start of a Premier League season, knowing that there are so many ups and downs and thrills and spills to come is enough to push every supporter into believing that anything is possible for their club. Leicester will feel like pushing for the top ten, Everton will feel like pushing for the top four and Manchester United might just feel like pushing for that title challenge that simply never arrived last season. And then there’s Liverpool and Southampton, two clubs and sets of supporters who might not feel too cosy next to one another anymore. Liverpool started the firesale that has decimated the Saints squad this summer with Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren all arriving from the South coast. Both sides have very different objectives this season but both will be fiercely up for this early season encounter.
The Reds will be looking to consolidate their position in the top four whilst also trying to challenge for the title and balance new European commitments, whereas the Saints will be looking to rebuild a damaged squad whilst integrating new faces and ideas from the coach, Ronald Koeman. All this makes for a fascinating start to the Premier League and Betway.com can make it even more interesting – particularly if your neutral supporter.
Betway are offering up to £50 in free bets for new customers and their extensive in-play markets are among the best. Here’s a small taster for your gambling pallette: Liverpool win = 1.33/1, Draw = 4.75/1, Saints win = 9/1. Then there’s some great odds for the first goalscorer in this game: Sturridge = 6/4, Gerrard = 4/1, Graziano Pelle = 5/1 and Dusan Tadic = 6/1. If you fancy a flutter make sure it’s Betway.
The Reds have already managed to collect seven injuries so far and the season hasn’t even begun. New signing Lazar Markovic and returning loan striker Fabio Borini are both doubtful with hamstring and shoulder injuries respectively. Liverpool’s biggest signing of the summer, Adam Lallana, is out until early September following his training ground knee ligament injury. Daniel Agger, Jon Flanagan, Oussama Assaidi and Tiago Ilori are all out with knee and thigh (Ilori) injuries with no return dates insight just yet.
The Saints might have had half of their squad taken from them but they’ve been quite fortunate in terms of injuries. Only star striker Jay Rodriguez is out at the moment but his ACL injury is extremely serious and is still someway from being completely healed. Southampton will miss the Englishman for the first months of this season, and how badly they could use him with most of their other star players jumping ship already.
- Last season saw the two sides defeat each other away from their respective homes. Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton beat the Reds 1-0 at Anfield before Brendan Rodgers’ title chasing Reds beat the Saints 3-0 at St Mary’s.
- New Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren will make his competitive debut against his former club after scoring for Southampton against Liverpool last season in that 1-0 away win. Rickie Lambert could also be in the same boat but he’ll likely come off from the bench.
- New Saints striker Shane Long has a very checkered history against the Reds. He once scored against the Reds for Reading in a 2-1 FA Cup extra-time win at Anfield in 2010. He then returned to terrorise the Reds as West Bromwich Albion beat Liverpool 3-0 in Rodgers’ first game in charge. He won two penalties that day but also botched one of them up with a truly awful penalty straight at Pepe Reina.
It’s a big season for Philippe Coutinho as he looks to take over the main creative mantle left behind by departed striker Luis Suarez. The little Brazilian has looked sharp in pre-season after resting during the World Cup, with Liverpool supporters all over the world thanking Big Phil Scolari for his foolish omission. Coutinho has looked determined and hungry during the Reds’ pre-season and Liverpool supporters will hope he forms a devastating trio with teammates Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling.
Using stats from last season we can see that Coutinho excelled in the final third of the pitch with the creative midfielder completing over two key passes per game, on average. Liverpool will need this creative spark from Coutinho with the random genius of Suarez now a fading memory. There are signs that Coutinho can handle this pressure and one of the most reassuring points is that he created almost 2.5 chances per 90 minutes for his teammates – England international Daniel Sturridge will relish being the main recipient of this service with Coutinho particularly good at threading through-balls into pacey strikers and wingmen, something Sturridge and Sterling will benefit from because of their scintillating pace.
Despite his small frame, Coutinho is just as useful off the ball as he is on it. Not only does he work hard by pressing the opposition in their own half, he is brave and loves the tackle – not always a Brazilian trait. Last season, on average, Coutinho won over two tackles per game and also won over 50% of his total duels – making him just as important from a defensive viewpoint.
Coutinho has all the qualities to be one of the great attacking forces in the Premier League this season and Liverpool supporters will be desperate for him to realise his potential this season.
Dusan Tadic is somewhat of an unknown quantity to many Premier League fans who don’t tune into the Eredivisie. Tadic enjoyed a stellar season last year and posted some truly frightening statistics. These figures must be met with caution with many believing the Dutch top flight is inferior to its English equivalent – a case in point can be Dirk Kuyt who managed 30 goals in one league campaign only to become a 15 goals a season player, at best, for Liverpool.
Nevertheless, impressive these figures are and Tadic can boast an average of 3.61 key passes per game from last season. This easily trumps Coutinho’s figures from last seasons Premier League. Tadic is also a force in-front of goal with 16 league goals to his name last season. Tadic’s impressive repertoire includes creating for his teammates and the Serbian created over four chances per 90 minutes played last season.
Tadic is not as industrious off the ball as Coutinho with just 0.85 tackles per 90 minutes but he did win more of his total duels with over 52% of those landing in his favour.
If Tadic can hit the ground running, the loss of Lallana and Lambert might be forgotten quicker than we thought.
My prediction for this game is 2-1 to Liverpool. I think Rodgers has made Anfield an intimidating place to play in once again and Liverpool were fantastic at home last season – they will need this to continue if they are to fight for the top honours once again. Liverpool’s ability to keep clean sheets will again come under question this season although they did keep Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan and Olympiakos at bay during their pre-season matches. I also believe that during the first couple of weeks of the season, Southampton will simply look to be competitive, especially against the bigger teams like Liverpool. However, they are a completely unknown quantity at the moment so who knows, it’s the Premier League after all.