Liverpool kick-off their Premier League campaign with a trip to Stoke City, incidentally the same team which amazingly concluded the club’s previous campaign with a shock 6-1 win over the Reds.
Quite a lot has happened at Anfield since that disastrous May afternoon in Staffordshire, with the club making a number of interesting summer signings and Raheem Sterling leaving for Manchester City.
Boss Brendan Rodgers has a tough call to make against an ever-improving Stoke side, though one thing that is certain is he will be looking to plug that midfield in order to avoid a repeat of their previous visit.
While Joe Gomez has done superbly in pre-season, the 18-year-old lacks Premier League experience and the logical decision would be to stick with Alberto Moreno, despite his recent struggles.
The centre-back duo of Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel offer height, strength and balance while new-signing Nathaniel Clyne is an important addition at right-back, with his pace and agility essential.
Plenty of questions have been asked regarding the Reds’ best midfield line-up this summer, yet for the trip to Stoke they must name a resolute trio in the midfield in order to take control of proceedings.
Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and James Milner possess steel, bite and immense work-rate off the ball, while the latter has the ability to get forward and provide a much-needed creative outlet.
The line-up may lack width, yet Milner is capable of moving out wide supporting Clyne down the right-flank, a role he often took up during his latter Manchester City days.
New signing Christian Benteke is an obvious starter – his physical attributes will be ideal in a battle against a compact Stoke City side, plus his defensive contributions at set-piece situations is key.
Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino have attacking free roles, although the latter could pull out to the left to creative width and space for his compatriot to work his magic in the middle.
Rodgers should be urging his players to get the Brazilian duo on the ball as frequently as possible, with their interchanging likely to create space for Benteke to wreak havoc through the middle.