Liverpool take on Stoke City at Anfield on August 17 in their opening fixture of the 2013-14 season. After some changes in personnel in the transfer window, Liverpool will be keen to start the season well. Their opponents, Stoke City, have got a new manager in Mark Hughes, who will be looking to make changes in the team’s playing style.
After losing 3-0 due to some defensive blunders at West Brom in the opening day fixture last season, Brendan Rodgers will be keen to start the new season with a win. The manager has now had a season at the club under his belt, and is now expected to deliver the results.
Liverpool vs Stoke City comparison: 2012-13 season (Data from Opta and WhoScrored.com)
Likely Liverpool formation and tactics in the game:
With Luis Suarez unavailable for the game due to suspension, Rodgers is likely to play Daniel Sturridge, Iago Aspas and Phillipe Coutinho as the attacking front three in a 4-3-3 formation. Coutinho impressed in his short duration at the club last season, and big things are expected from him this season. He is expected to be given a free roaming role to create goal-scoring chances. Aspas is likely to utilize the width on the left wing and might cut in to enter the penalty box at times.
In the midfield, Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva are certainties to start the game, while Jordan Henderson might pip Joe Allen to the third starting spot. Lucas will play in the role of defensive midfielder, looking to break down the opponent’s attacks, while Gerrard and Henderson will look to get the ball into the opposition half.
The defence looks settled with new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet showing good form in the pre-season. Wing backs Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique will be constantly on the lookout to move into the opposition half to exploit the width, and provide crosses into the opposition penalty box. With the retirement of Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger finds a new central defensive partner in new arrival Kolo Toure, and the duo will look to begin their partnership with a solid clean sheet.
If Rodgers feels the need to have someone attacking on the right wing, he could bring on Raheem Sterling for Henderson, with Coutinho moving to the central midfield role.
If the team plays to its potential, then it should not have much trouble seeing off the challenge of the visitors, who would still be getting used to playing under a new manager’s style, and Liverpool should be able to begin their 2013-14 season campaign with a win.
Prediction: Liverpool to win 2-0 with goals from Coutinho and Sturridge.