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Becker and Fabinho to start – Strongest 4-3-3 Liverpool XI to face West Ham United

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Predicted Liverpool XI to face West Ham United: Who will start for the Reds’ season opener?

Liverpool’s pre-season is done and dusted. The Reds head into the campaign as favourites to challenge champions Manchester City and land their elusive 19th league title. On paper, Jurgen Klopp’s charges are the strongest in the manager’s three-year stint in Merseyside and probably since Rafa Benitez’s era.

Liverpool have had a successful summer, signing midfielders Fabinho and Naby Keita. A series of injuries left James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum as the only senior midfielders towards the end of last season. The Reds have also added Xherdan Shaqiri and goalkeeper Alisson Becker to the squad.

Having reached three finals and losing all of them since taking up the managerial job at Melwood, Klopp now has a squad that is capable of competing on all four fronts, at least on paper. The Reds suffered a considerable drop in quality when the attacking trio was broken up. However, the presence of Shaqiri and a rejuvenated Sturridge should be able to address this problem.

Now, let’s take a look at Liverpool’s predicted line-up against West Ham for the Reds’ season opener.

Predicted Liverpool XI

Formation: 4-3-3

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Alisson Becker (GK)

The Brazilian No. 1 was signed from AS Roma to replace Loris Karius. The German has struggled to impose himself since his nightmarish performance in Kiev, meaning Becker must be deployed between the sticks.

Nathaniel Clyne (RB)

Teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold made this position his own last season. The youngster is back after enjoying a great run to the semi-finals with England in the World Cup. However, Nathaniel Clyne might receive a start after struggling with a back injury for most of last season.

Joe Gomez (CB)

With both Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip struggling with injuries and Dejan Lovren’s late return to training after his World Cup exertions, Gomez should receive a start in his preferred centre-back position.

Virgil van Dijk (CB)

The towering Dutchman is one of the world’s best defenders at the most. He has vastly improved this Liverpool defence since joining from Southampton in January.

Andrew Robertson (LB)

Since Moreno’s injury last season, Robertson has excelled in the left-back position, contributing equally to the defence and the attack. It would either take a drastic loss of form or an injury to dislodge the Scotsman from being the first-choice left-back.

Fabinho (CDM)

Fabinho will be tasked with patrolling the area in front of the defence. With Henderson arriving late due to the World Cup and Emre Can out of the picture, Fabinho must start as Liverpool’s deep-lying midfielder.

Naby Keita (CM)

The energetic yet creative box-to-box midfielder has a keen eye for defence-splitting passes. Hence, Keita should receive a start to showcase his abilities, wearing the No. 8 shirt which was previously worn by legend Steven Gerrard.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM)

With Milner out with a dreadful injury, Wijnaldum could feature further up the pitch.

Mohamed Salah (RW)

Salah enjoyed an impressive debut campaign, scoring 44 goals in all competitions. He must pick up from where he left, having recovered from a shoulder injury sustained in Kiev. The Egyptian king is always a handful for defenders and should start against West Ham.

Roberto Firmino (CF)

The Brazilian’s work on and off the ball is excellent, to say the least. Although Salah walked away with a lion’s share of appreciation last season, Firmino continues to be a pivotal figure for the Reds. Hence, he should receive a start against the Hammers.

Read More: 3 ideal Premier League destinations for this explosive Bundesliga winger – including Liverpool and Tottenham

Sadio Mane (LW)

The Senegalese enjoyed a fine season last campaign. He could start down the left flank but he is known for often drifting into central areas to play as a No. 10. Mane is a definite starter for Liverpool.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

Three big summer signings who are yet to make a mark in the Premier League – including this £52m superstar

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Three summer signings who are yet to make a mark in the Premier League

There is a lot of money involved in modern day football and even the mid-table clubs resort to extensive transfer activity in the transfer season. It was no different in the Premier League this summer as almost all the clubs, barring a few, brought in radical reinforcements to bolster their squad ahead of the season.

Liverpool were the highest spending club in the Premier League this summer and the Reds made the headlines with the mega-money signings of Alisson, Naby Keita and Fabinho. Chelsea weren’t behind either and the new manager Maurizio Sarri brought in the likes of Kepa Arrizabalaga who became the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.

Even the Premier League newcomers Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers did not hesitate to splash the cash to boost their chances of survival in the Premier League.

While some of the new signings have already hit the ground running, others haven’t quite hit top gear and are struggling to make an impact. Here are 3 players who were bought for a big sum but haven’t lived up to their billing so far:-

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1. Fred (Manchester United)

Jose Mourinho splashed £52 million to land the Brazilian central midfielder from Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer but the 25-year-old has made only 4 starts in the Premier League this season.

He scored his first goal against Wolves and shook the crossbar with a curling free-kick in the same match. That has been the highlight of his performance so far and the fans have every right to expect more from a £52 million signing.

He has not looked too good with his decision-making and the manager has found it difficult to assign him a definite role in the midfield. He has been tried out in different positions but hasn’t had much influence on the game. He was used in a more advanced role against Spurs but let the team down with some horrible decision-making in the final third after which he has been used in a holding role.

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2. Fabinho (Liverpool)

A little less expensive than Fred, Liverpool bought the Brazilian for £43.7 million from AS Monaco in the summer but he hasn’t played a significant role in the squad. The 24-year-old played in the Carabao Cup game against Chelsea but looked way off the pace. He was too sluggish and rusty and looked far off from challenging for a first-team place in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp has stated that he needs more time to adapt his game and acclimatise to the style of play prevalent in England (h/t Bleacher Report) but one might just wonder whether Klopp, who is always spot on with his transfers, might have got this one wrong.

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3. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton and Hove Albion)

The Seagulls splashed £17 million on last season’s Eredivisie top scorer but he is yet to register a single goal this season.

Let alone goals, the Iranian has only played for 168 minutes in the Premier League and has made 7 appearances, 6 out of which have come from the bench.

Read More:- 2.3 tackles, 3.9 clearances – Fulham must beat Watford to sign this Argentine defensive beast

The Iranian has found regular minutes difficult to come by because of the presence of other wingers like Anthony Knockaert and Solly March. Also, the 35-year-old Glenn Murray has kept him out of the starting line-up.

Jahanbakhsh had made a name for himself in the Eredivisie as a fast and dangerous attacker with a keen eye for goal but he hasn’t managed to replicate that in the Premier League so far.

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Liverpool

Watford must revisit their interest in this £26million-rated Liverpool superstar

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Watford should not hesitate to splash the cash to sign Divock Origi in January

According to an earlier report from the Express, out-of-favour Liverpool striker Divock Origi was on the radar of Watford. The Reds had asked for a handsome amount of £26million to part with the highly-rated youngster but the Hornets were clearly unwilling to fork out that kind of money for the 23-year-old.

Origi, who started his professional career with French outfit Lille, made his move to Anfield in 2014 but was loaned back to his former club immediately.

He continued his development over there before making his mark in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season where he scored 5 goals and registered an assist from 16 appearances. As a result of the promise that he showed, he was used on a more regular basis in the 2016-17 season where he scored 7 goals and racked up 3 assists from 34 appearances.

To be honest, he hasn’t done a bad job for the club as a youngster but has let the team down with his inconsistent form on multiple occasions.

The Belgian also has a good record in European competitions. However, he soon fell out of favour and was frozen out of the first-team scheme of things by Jurgen Klopp. Consequently, the Reds loaned him out to Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg last year where he scored 6 goals. The returns from the loan spell weren’t bad but they weren’t overwhelming either.

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Despite boasting of loads of talent and potential, Origi has failed to make it big at Anfield and hasn’t managed to make any appearances for the Reds so far this season. Undoubtedly, it is not a good sight to see a player of his calibre constantly warming the benches and it definitely won’t be long before some other club agrees to meet Liverpool’s demands to snap him up.

The Hornets, on the other hand, made a remarkable start to the season with four wins out of four but Javi Gracia’s men just seem to have lost that golden touch in the last four games. Watford have managed to earn only a solitary point from their last four games, which includes a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Bournemouth. The Hornets are still placed 9th in the standings but they should look to capitalise on their stellar start by getting back to winning ways.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Hornets to reignite their interest in Divock Origi given that he is capable of adding an extra dimension to their attack. Liverpool have neither loaned him out nor have they used him this season, which should open the door for the potential suitors to lure the player away from Anfield and Watford should take the initiative in January.

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The 23-year-old versatile Belgian is capable of playing as a wide man, a centre-forward and a supporting striker according to the need of the team. He has that lightning pace and the strength to outmuscle the defenders in the final third. Origi is also very strong in the air and combines his towering 6ft. 1-inch stature with his upper body strength to win headers inside the box.

Blessed with a good technique, he likes to dribble his way past the defenders and often drops deep to carry the ball forward with pace from deeper areas of the pitch. To go with his strength, dribbling and aerial prowess, he is also a very good shooter from long range.

Although he is not the most consistent of strikers at the age of 23 and sometimes doesn’t show enough tactical awareness in the final third to influence the play, he is a player with a massive potential and should be a good addition to the squad.

Troy Deeney and Andre Gray racked up the goals in the earlier stages of the season but they haven’t looked very threatening in the past few games. Also, using Origi at the flanks should add more width to the team and would lead to more build-up play from the wings.

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Read More:- 2.3 tackles, 3.9 clearances – Fulham must beat Watford to sign this Argentine defensive beast

The Hornets should be buoyed by the return of former Barcelona man Gerard Deulofeu and they should purchase Origi in January to combine with him. Origi will cost a handsome £26 million but the transfer would make Watford a more potent attacking force and might propel them to a top half finish this season.

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Liverpool

Liverpool should beat arch Premier League rivals to trigger this 21-year-old superstar’s £17.6m release clause

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Liverpool should beat Manchester United to sign Steven Bergwijn

According to Liverpool FC, Liverpool and Manchester United have sent their scouts to keep a close eye on PSV Eindhoven winger Steven Bergwijn.

The Netherlands U21 international has earned rave reviews for his stellar performances in the Dutch Eredivisie since his bursting on to the scene in 2014. The 21-year-old has hit the ground running this season in an emphatic manner, scoring 4 goals and setting up another 4 from just eight appearances.

A product of Ajax’s youth system, Bergwijn left the club at the age of 13 due to a conflict with a youth trainer and was contracted immediately by PSV Eindhoven. He made his senior debut as a Jong PSV player in the second division in 2014 but was called up to the first team later in the same year, following some eye-catching displays. Since then, he has scored 14 goals for the Dutch outfit.

And his blistering form this season hasn’t eluded the eye of Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool. He has developed a formidable partnership with Hirving Lozano in the attacking third, another player who is on United’s shop list. (h/t Liverpool FC)

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Liverpool have made a strong start to their Premier League campaign and the Reds currently sit 3rd in the standings with 20 points, just behind Manchester City and Chelsea on goal difference. Jurgen Klopp’s men have made it clear with their performances that they mean business as far as the race for the title is concerned.

Manchester United, on the other hand, have struggled to get going this season and the Red Devils find themselves 7 points behind league leaders Manchester City. With 4 wins out of their first eight games, Jose Mourinho’s men currently sit 8th in the standings. They must show a massive improvement if they are to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League crown.

While the Red Devils have been let down on numerous occasions by their porous backline, Liverpool have managed to assemble a formidable unit this season. Klopp was amongst the highest spending managers in Europe as he broke the bank to sign the likes of Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri. Consequently, the Reds have looked a lot more comfortable at the back and between the sticks.

Mohamed Salah hasn’t found his magical touch this season and looks like a shadow of the wizard he was last season. Yet, the Egyptian maestro has amassed 3 goals and an assist. Alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, he has once again established himself as the leader of the formidable front three. As a matter of fact, the trio has been directly involved in 12 of Liverpool’s 15 goals so far.

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Klopp has used his new recruit Shaqiri at times but he hasn’t been consistent. Liverpool need a goalscoring attacking midfielder who can partly shoulder the workload of scoring. To that end, 21-year-old Steven Bergwijn is an ideal choice.

Furthermore, Klopp would find himself in a crisis if one of the front three is sidelined due to an injury. Daniel Sturridge has put his hand up at times but he is not the most consistent. On the contrary, the youngster has an impressive scoring record for a winger and should add a lot of depth to the squad.

United have had their fair share of troubles in front of the goal as Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have struggled to make an impact. Sanchez has found it difficult to get involved in the game whereas the Belgian has been poor with his finishing. To be honest, United need a winger who can play on both sides of their 4-3-3 formation and Bergwijn is certainly capable of doing so.

A quick, sharp and agile winger, Bergwijn has the ability to play on either side of the pitch and combines his sound technique with amazing dribbling skills and incredible pace to get past the defenders. His good close control allows him to weave his way past narrow spaces.

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Read More:- Signing this 27-year-old Premier League veteran could propel Liverpool to greater glory

The 21-year-old also has a good presence of mind and the vision to pick out the runs of his teammates in the final third with incisive through balls. His decision-making and finishing aren’t of the highest quality but he is never afraid to have a crack at the goal.

As things stand, he would be an ideal reinforcement for both Liverpool and Manchester United. Having said that, the Reds should look to stamp their authority in the quest for the Premier League title by signing this youngster with a release clause of £17.6 million.

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