Sterling Value For Raheem To Score FirstStats
Liverpool v Southampton
Last season’s Premier League runners-up Liverpool welcome Southampton to Anfield as they hope to kick-off their season with a quick three points.
The Reds completed their pre-season preparations last weekend with a thumping 4-0 win over Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund. It was a fine victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side, even against a weakened Dortmund outfit missing the majority of their World Cup stars with goals from Daniel Sturridge, debutant Dejan Lovren, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool were also finalists in the International Champions Cup tournament held in the United States over the summer, but following wins over Olympiakos, Manchester City (on penalties) and AC Milan they were beaten to the trophy by Louis van Gaal’s new-look Manchester United after second half strikes from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard cancelled out Steven Gerrard’s first half penalty.
New boss Ronald Koeman tasted his first defeat as Southampton manager last weekend when Bayer Leverkusen left England with a 1-0 win after new signing Graziano Pelle headed into his own net. The Dutchman had enjoyed a 100% record over the pre-season up to that point, and conceded only one goal, although wins over Brighton, Bournemouth, Swindon, Sporting Hasselt and Hoensbroek are unlikely to have put much fear into their Premier League opponents for the season ahead.
Rodgers has numerous absentees ahead of the season’s opener, with Daniel Agger, Jon Flanagan, Fabio Borini and new Serbian arrival Lazar Markovic all doubtful and liable to make the bench at best. Adam Lallana will not have the chance to make his Liverpool debut against his former club as the former Saints’ skipper has a knee injury which will keep him out until mid-September.
Lovren and Rickie Lambert are both available to play their first competitive games for Liverpool having joined over the summer after successful spells at the south coast club while Emre Can is also set to take his Premier League bow after the midfielder’s £10million move from Leverkusen.
Shane Long could go straight into the first team for his new club after the Irish international striker joined from Hull on Thursday while Romanian centre-back Florin Gardos signed on the same day from Steaua Bucharest and may also feature from the start. Summer arrivals Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Saphir Tadir are also expected to be in the starting XI but forward Jay Rodriguez is still out as he continues his recovery from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The Saints earned all three points at Anfield last season thanks to Lovren scoring the only goal of the game with header from a set-piece against his current employers for his old ones. Liverpool had their revenge when they travelled to the south coast in March though as they ran out easy 3-0 winners thanks to goals from the departed Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and a late Gerrard penalty.
Southampton have a decent record in the recent history of the fixture though winning five of the past eight and two of the last four on Merseyside.
After reaping their opponents of many of their best performers it’s no surprise to see the visitors as big as 9/1 to repeat last season’s success at Anfield with Liverpool heavy favourites at 4/11.
I see no reason why the Reds shouldn’t get off to a win though, and although there’s some appeal at 10/11 on the win on the -1 handicap,
the goalscorers market looks best with Sterling value, if you’ll excuse the pun, in Raheem to continue his fine pre-season form with a goal here at 31/20 anytime or 5/1 to bag the first
…in front of the home faithful this term.