Having bagged three of their best players in a summer smash-and-grab raid, Liverpool now welcome Southampton to Anfield to kick off a campaign burdened with unusually high expectations.
After an excruciating end to the last season and a miserable World Cup, can Steven Gerrard pick himself for another 38-game slog? And with the Reds’ skipper yet to sign a new contract, might it be his last chance to secure a title-winner’s medal?
Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana all joined Liverpool from Southampton this summer, and the first two could well start against their former club this afternoon. Lallana will miss the game with a knee injury, but otherwise this will be a good early opportunity to see whether the Reds’ busy transfer window has filled the void left by the departure of Luis Suarez.
New Saints manager Ronald Koeman has plenty of work to do to rebuild a squad shredded by the summer’s dealings. Worse still, the fact that Morgan Schneiderlin has so far had his transfer request refused will do little to inspire team harmony. A bitter start all round for the south coast side.