English Premier League Season Preview: Liverpool

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Liverpool enter the new campaign hoping to build on the work completed in May, when they finished inside the top four and earned a passage into the UEFA Champions League.

Before Jurgen Klopp’s men battle it out with Hoffenheim for a coveted spot in the Group Stage, their attention is directed to Marco Silva’s Watford for their opening Premier League fixture.

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A stunning Emre Can bicycle kick was enough for Liverpool to take the points the last time these sides met at Vicarage Road. Liverpool ended the season with an unusually resolute defensive record – conceding no goals in their final four games en route to snatching 4th spot.

Liverpool improved in quality and depth over the summer; Mohamed Salah’s signing added a much-needed winger to the squad, Andrew Robertson offers competition for James Milner and Alberto Moreno at left-back, while Dominic Solanke could be one to watch out for after a prolific pre-season.

The Reds come into a potential Champions League season well-equipped, but fans are still patiently waiting for a resolution to the drawn-out saga surrounding Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman handed in a transfer request with the south coast club, rousing the interest of The Reds once again following an alleged illegal attempt at luring the player earlier in the transfer window.

Liverpool open the 2017/18 season away at Watford with some concerning news regarding the fitness of several first-team regulars.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Adam Lallana will play no part in the first two months of the season after suffering a thigh injury. The England international produced his best football with The Reds under the watch of the German in a deeper midfield role, and will be sorely missed in the opening few months.

Joining him on the omission list are fellow England internationals Nathaniel Clyne and Daniel Sturridge. The former has ‘had no pre-season’, according to Klopp, ruling him out for the season opener, while the latter is dealing with a thigh injury sustained after scoring a brilliant chip against Bayern Munich in pre-season.

Barcelona-linked Brazilian Philippe Coutinho is also doubtful for the Watford clash, having not trained during the week due to a back problem.

Predicted Liverpool XI vs. Watford

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Jurgen Klopp has an interesting decision to make on his best XI. He cannot play a front three of Firmino-Salah-Mane unless Philippe Coutinho is dropped deeper in midfield, which means one of the three midfielders listed here might normally have to sit out. Then consider Adam Lallana’s positioning and the possibility of James Milner being used as a central midfielder again, and Liverpool suddenly have a plethora of midfield options.

Liverpool need to once again acclimatise to the demands of playing in both domestic and European competitions; the trip to Watford is followed up by a first-leg clash with Hoffenheim in Germany on Tuesday, before The Reds fly back to England to deal with Anfield specialists Crystal Palace.

The return leg with Hoffenheim will follow mid-week before Liverpool’s first Premier League blockbuster of the new campaign – an Anfield meeting with Arsenal.

Whether Champions League Group Stage fixtures will fill up their September calendar is unconfirmed, but Liverpool will nonetheless close out the month with a testing trip to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, a home visit from Sean Dyche’s Burnley and an away clash with Craig Shakespeare’s unpredictable Leicester City.

Liverpool’s August and September fixtures:

liverpoolEPL – Watford (A) – Saturday August 12, 2017

liverpoolUCL Playoff – Hoffenheim (A) – Tuesday August 15, 2017

liverpoolEPL – Crystal Palace (H) – Saturday August 19, 2017

liverpoolUCL Playoff – Hoffenheim (H) – Wednesday August 23, 2017

liverpoolEPL – Arsenal (H) – Sunday August 27, 2017

liverpoolEPL – Manchester City (A) – Saturday September 9, 2017

liverpoolEPL – Burnley (H) – Saturday September 16, 2017

liverpoolEPL – Leicester City (A) – Saturday September 23, 2017

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