4 things to expect from Liverpool in their Premier League opener vs West Ham United
The new Premier League season is now underway. This means new expectations, new targets and new-found for many teams. Every team will want to have a good start to the season to be able to build from. One of the teams that have had some added belief over the course of pre-season is Liverpool. The Champions League finalists will love to put away the nightmares of Kiev behind them and put England on notice.
Out of all the top sides in Premier League this season, Liverpool have shown the most intent in the transfer market. Along with retaining all of their key players, the Reds have bolstered their squad with some valuable additions. Perhaps the most important piece of business done by Liverpool this year was solving the goalkeeping situation at Anfield, as Alisson Becker came in for €66 million from Roma.
Liverpool more or less looks like a complete team now, with further scope of addition in the winter or next summer. They are perfectly poised to be the team that will challenge Manchester City for the league title this season. To muster up a title bid, the Reds must take advantage of a favourable run of opening games and set the pace in the league. They open their campaign on Sunday against West Ham United at Anfield. Here are some of the things to expect from Jurgen Klopp's men in the season opener.
#4 A surprise partner for van Dijk in defence
One of the possible areas of recruitment was not strengthened over the summer as Jurgen Klopp has been keeping his utmost faith in his centre-backs. There is a reason why he paid $75 million for Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch international has been excellent for Liverpool and has transformed the entire defence into a really solid one. His presence has aided Dejan Lovren a great deal, making him feel much more comfortable and confident on the pitch.
However, the Croatian will not play a part in the opener due to a lack of match fitness as he played the World Cup final less than a month ago. Backup defenders Joel Matip and Ragnar Klavan both picked up injuries during pre-season and are heavy doubts for the game on Sunday. Matip, however, is in a better position to play than Klavan. Along with them, Joe Gomez also suffered a knock which kept him out of Liverpool's friendly win over Torino. He may be ready for the game, but it will be a niggling concern to think about for the manager.
Gomez is the likeliest from the three to partner van Dijk against West Ham, but there is another alternative for Liverpool if none of the three is fit enough. It may be risky giving him a debut on the opening day, but young Nathaniel Phillips could potentially get an opportunity to build on an impressive pre-season for the Reds. He was initially brought in the squad to make up the numbers but made such a good impression that Klopp decided to include him in the squad for the US Tour. It will likely be Gomez, with a possibility that we will see Phillips make his Anfield debut.