The first match of the season initiates a lot of talking points but above all it´s about revenge. The Reds lost to Southampton at Anfield last time around. Today we want a win, and a convincing one. To show our title rivals that Liverpool mean business.
A long wait has finally come to an end. The Premier League is getting under way after three months of football-empty torture. World Cup? Bah!
Liverpool face Southampton for the first time in history in a opening league game at home. The teams have met once before in the first match, in Southampton, it was on the 16th of August 1998. Liverpool came back from 1-0 down to win by 2-1 thanks to a equalizer from Karl-Heinz Riedle and a winner from Michael Owen 17 minutes from time. The win came actually during the season when Liverpool acquired their biggest ever win against Saints, 7-1 at Anfield. That match is by the way described here on the blog.
The fixture this time has some interesting angles. For instance, can Liverpool pick up where they left last season and play, attractive and winning football or what is to expect? Was last season a fluke or are we on a steady upwards curve?
In the preseason games both promising attacking play has been shown aswell as some nowadays all too familiar defensive errors. However, the loss of Luis Suarez hasn´t shown so much, the lightning fast counter-attacks is even quicker now. And the defense seem a little more stable, especially against Dortmund when newcomers Dejan Lovren and Javier Manquillo played really well. Central defender Lovren was alreday in his debut organizing the defense and the offside line as if he was Carra in disguise. He´s gonna help us better last season sometimes leaking defense. But preseason is one thing, serious league play something completely different.
For Lovren and Rickie Lambert the match versus Saints is something extra. And would have been the same for Adam Lallana had he been fit and played. All three belonged to Southampton last season and now they should try to beat their old club. For a lot of Reds it´s an opportunity to take revenge for last season´s 0-1-reverse against Sunday´s visitors. It was in fact Lovren who scored the only goal of that Anfield game. Hopefully he can find the net again. Southampton´s that is.
Maybe Southampton as a club has som grudge towards Liverpool for ”stealing” three of their best players but it will not be seen on the pitch as the players hardly think in those terms.
On paper Liverpool should win this match. We have a stronger line-up and are on a high after last season´s exploits. Southampton has lost a lot of first-teamers and it will take time for the replacements to bed in. Their squad cannot be in a good mood seeing so many important players leave St Mary´s.
The statistics also points to a home win. The teams has met 39 times in the league in Liverpool and the Reds has ran out winners on 25 occasions. Only five Saints wins has been registred. On the other hand in recent times Southampton has matched Liverpool pretty well. They have two wins each in the last two seasons and since the season 1999/2000 both teams has six wins apiece and in the other four games the spoils were shared.
But as I said, currently Liverpool feels much stronger. If only Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling can continue their excellent preseason form, and others like Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard can hit the heights then it will be a dreary home trip for the striped team from Hampshire. And a promising and joyful start to the season for Liverpool FC and it´s fans.
A 3-0-victory today would be awesome and a statement but I think that it ends 2-1. It´ll do.
At long last the new season is here and Steven Gerrard can once more spell it out:
We Go Again.