Predicting Liverpool's Starting XI for the 2015/2016 Season
One of the main causes of disappointment last season was inconsistency off the pitch as well as on it; from four at the back to three, and back again, the defence pretty much summed up the turbulent nature of the Reds’ starting line-up. Now, with many signings in the bag, as well as the departure of a small man with a big name, it is a good time to make a prediction as to Liverpool’s (hopefully more consistent) new first team.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Albeit he had a season as inconsistent as Liverpool’s line-up, come the end of the season the Belgian was beginning to show why Liverpool chose to bring him in from Sunderland. In spite of the signing of Adam Bogdan, I doubt this will bring Mignolet place into question, although perhaps Bogdan’s desire to challenge early on in his Anfield career may spur the Hungarian onto better form in training and any game time he may get.
Centre Back: Mamadou Sakho
Sakho has now had two seasons at Liverpool, and he continues to divide opinion between those who say his style is clumsy and he’s a liability; and those who say his defensive prowess and quietly impressive pass accuracy point towards a bright future. Personally I fall into the later category, and I believe that if Rodgers continues to pick the French vice-captain over Dejan Lovren, he will only continue to improve.
Centre-Back: Martin Skrtel
The Slovak recently signed a new contract with Liverpool, and he is now one of (if not the most) experienced player at Anfield going into the new season. With this in mind, it is unlikely that Brendan Rodgers will choose to drop him for some less experienced players, such as Tiago Ilori and Andre Wisdom.
Right-back: Nathaniel Clyne
We all know the right back was not the first player to move from the South Coast to Merseyside, but of all to have done so; he is perhaps the one who was most required. The call for a new right back has been strong at Anfield since well before the recent departures of Javier Manquillo and more notably Glen Johnson. And now, having signed someone who is viewed by many as one of the best in the league at what he does, one would think Clyne is set to walk straight into the Anfield starting XI
Left-back: Alberto Moreno
Spaniard Moreno joined Liverpool last summer with many excited about his potential; potential which since his quality goal against Spurs early in the season, he has failed to live up to. That being said, you’d be mistaken to say that he should be written off, and I fully expect that he will be given another chance this season. This idea is supported by Jose Enrique’s absence from the preseason tour, and also growing speculation that he will leave this summer.
Defensive Midfield: Emre Can
Utilised all over the field last term, Can always showed glimpses of the quality he clearly possesses, particularly when played in the middle of the park. With this and the decline of Lucas and departure of Gerrard in mind, Can looks the obvious choice, and many Reds fans will hope Can can indeed fill the shoes of the legendary skipper.
Central Midfield: Jordan Henderson
One man who will want to step up to the plate more so than Can will be recently appointed captain Jordan Henderson. Since his performances became more consistent and the criticisms less persistent, Henderson appears to be growing into an Anfield hero. If last season was anything to go by, he also appears to be developing an eye for goal, and perhaps this is a sign he is not so dissimilar to LA’s new favourite scouser.
Central Midfield: James Milner
The second summer signing to make the cut is former City midfielder James Milner, whose experience and proven ability would lead many people to look at him as a certainty for the first team. Furthermore, he is the kind of character Rodgers will be hoping can lead by example on and off the pitch, as well as his constant energy providing a boost when the team need it most.
Right Forward: Roberto Firmino
Another new signing to follower the Milner, Firmino is a player who has excited most of the Anfield faithful without even kicking a ball yet. His form for club and country points towards a player with the abilities required to hit the ground running at the club, and whilst there is not a lot to say about him at this point, I am confident he will walk into Rodgers’ first team plans.
Left Forward: Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool’s player of the season last year; there can be no questions about that. Since he added goals and improved technique to his game, I don’t think much needs to be said in order to justify Coutinho’s place in the regular starting XI.
Centre Forward: Who knows?
Most people would answer Sturridge, without stopping to think about quite how much his injuries could affect Liverpool’s season if they opt to put all their metaphorically eggs in that basket. Therefore, there are still doubts surrounding who will lead the line at Anfield this season; rumours circulating with increasing frequency however would point towards Benteke, with a deal edging closer. Will he be the answer? I’m afraid once again the only response is ‘who knows?’; one thing’s for sure, nobody will know till the season is up and running once again.