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
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 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.
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.