The wait is finally over... as Liverpool takes on Arsenal at Anfield in their 1st Barclay's Premiership match of the new season.. If there was one tie that they had hoped they wouldn't be drawn against in their opening match, it would have been Arsenal, given their poor recent record against the Gunners..Liverpool got 0 points(both home and away) last season against the Wenger's boys.
Team News -
The majority of the Liverpool's starting XI haven't had time to complete a proper training session with the entire squad after returning from World Cup duties. Along with this, the injury concerns of Torres imposes few selection dilemma's for Roy in his first big match in charge.
Probable starting XI (4-4-1-1)
Reina, Johnson, Carra, Agger, Kelly, Maxi, Stevie G, Lucas, Jovonovic, Cole, Ngog.
Cavalieri, Skrtel, Aurellio, Kuyt, Aquilani, Pacheco, Torres
Arsenal, right in the beginning of the new season itself, has been bogged down by injury concerns. Van Persie, Fabregas might not be match fit to take part in tomorrow's match. This along with the confirmed absence of Denilson, Diaby, Song, Bendtner and Ramsey means Liverpool will be facing a much weaker Arsenal side. But rest assured, the first name in the Arsenal's side tomorrow would be that of one Mr. Russian, Arshavin who has an amazing record at Anfield. If Liverpool can keep him quite tomorrow, Liverpool has got a good chance of securing 3 points. The other major threats comes in the form of Chamak, Nasri and Walcot.
I would expect Roy to give the task of handling the pacy Walcot to the quicker and fitter Kelly rather than to Aurellio. Kelly also provides the additional threat going forward. However I wont be surprised if Agger is pushed to LB with Skrtel partnering Carra in case Roy takes on a more defensive approach in his first big game. I expect Roy to stick to players who had spent some time in the pre-season for the other positions. This means, Maxi gets in ahead of Kuyt while Jovonovic will be given the task of giving Sagna a rough time. Lucas and Stevie G will be looking to control the game in the center of the park while Cole would be making his big Debut tomorrow. All eyes will be on him (including few from the blue section) tomorrow. Since Torres is not yet match fit, Roy wouldn't want to take a chance with him so early in the season thereby giving Ngog an extended run in the first team. Liverpool have a decent bench to call on tomorrow. Unfortunately, the likes of Pacheco, Babel, Kyrgiakos, Spearing might not even make it to the squad.
Prediction - Taking Arsenal's injury worries and the feel good factor surrounding the Liverpool club into consideration, I'm going for a rather comfortable 2-1 win for the Reds with Ngog and Joey to be the scorers.
Excited as ever...YNWA