Title Contenders Or Battling For Fourth? Opening Games Could Provide Some Answers
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Liverpool have been busy rebuilding this summer and this has only heightened the expectation of many Liverpool fans following the successful second half of last seaosn under Kenny Dalglish. Have the new additions of Henderson, Downing and Adam turned Liverpool in to title challengers? Perhaps. Although many will say they need a left back and possibly another striker before they can talk of titles. With the new season almost upon us, here we look at Liverpools opening three fixtures in August and give our predictions.
13th August – Liverpool vs Sunderland
It all gets underway at Anfield on the opening day of the season as Liverpool host Steve Bruce’s Sunderland. Unfortunately this one isn’t live on Sky, so you’ll have to search for a dodgy feed online I’m afraid! As with any season, it’s important to get off to a positive start and set a marker down for the campaign. With a home fixture, the Reds have a great opportunity to get a win on the board.
Sunderland will be no easy task, they have invested heavily in the summer and brought in two more Man Utd rejects in Brown and O’Shea. Both will no doubt improve the Black Cats side, as will Seb Larsson and new young prospect Conner Wickham. The good news for Liverpool may be the fact that with Sunderland likely to make so many changes to their starting XI, the new players won’t have had much time to settle and get used to playing together and the team may be slightly disjointed. So it may not be a bad time to play them.
The main talking point for the day will be on Kenny Dalglish’s starting team, and whether Sunderland old-boy Jordan Henderson makes his first competitive start against his old side. Steven Gerrard is likely to miss out through injury so the young Englishman may get a chance to impress, but may have to fight with fellow summer signing Charlie Adam for a place in the middle. Luis Suarez is also likely to miss out after his Copa America heroics but despite his absense, I fully expect Liverpool to overcome a resilient Sunderland.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 Sunderland
20th August – Arsenal vs Liverpol
The first big test of the new season comes in only the second game as Liverpool make the trip South to face Arsenal at the Emirates. Not surprisingly, this game is being shown live on Sky Sports 1HD at 12.45 KO. The corresponding fixture last season was unforgettable, with Liverpool snatching an unlikely point 7 minutes into injury time through a Dirk Kuyt penalty. The equalizer came less than a minute after Arsenal looked to have won the game thanks to a penalty of their own. A truly enthralling end to a somewhat dull game, but it provides an interesting side note to this fixture as I’m sure Arsenal will be looking to make up for their last second capitulation last season.
Again, it may be a good time to face the Gunners with the uncertainty surrounding their two star midfielder Nasri and Fabregas, with both heavily linked with a move away. Nasri looks like staying for another season, but he may not be fully focused on the game just yet at rumors will persist on his future until the transfer window slams shut on September 1st. Fabregas will be an unlikely even if he remains in North London as he has yet to take to the field during pre-season and isn’t even in full training as he overcomes a mysterious hamstring injury.
Arsenal have been linked with moves for Jagielka and former Liverpool target Juan Mata recently, but even if they do seal those deals, neither will have had much time to bed in and get used to the ‘Arsenal way’, plus Theo Walcott looks to have picked up an ankle knock and may miss out, so playing the Gunners early may prove to be a blessing. The fitness of Suarez may prove vital here, if he plays I can see Liverpool getting something here, most likely a score draw. If he doesn’t, much will depend on the form/fitness of Andy Carroll who was a thorn in Arsenal side last season with Newcastle.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
27th August – Liverpool vs Bolton
Back to Anfield for the third league game of the season as the Reds entertain Bolton Wanderers. Again, this one is being shown live on Sky Sports 1HD with a late 17.30 KO. Another very winnable game here and anything other than three points would be seen as a disappointment. Bolton have arguably got weaker during the summer, losing striker Johan Elmander as well as Chelsea’s on-loan forward Daniel Sturridge. The only real additions have been Tyrone Mears, Chris Eagles and Nigel Reo-Coker, hardly a terrifying thought for the Liverpool players. Rumors also persist on the future of Gary Cahill and should he make a move before the game, beating Bolton will be a whole lot easier as he’s a key defender for them.
A comfortable game I feel, and I fully expect Liverpool to overcome the Wanderers at Anfield.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Bolton
So it could be a very positive start for King Kenny and his men with two very winnable home games and a tricky away tie at the Emirates to face a possibly disjointed Arsenal side. If the Reds could pick up 7 points from their August fixtures that would serve as a solid base to build upon for the season, but as we all know, things don’t always work out as we expect, do they! Liverpool have been pretty poor in pre-season and will certainly need to up their game with the season only 2 weeks away.
Not sure about you, but i can’t wait!!
Don’t forget, to fully enjoy the new season get yourself a Sky Sports HD package, sit back and enjoy the action!
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