The last three months have felt like a ticking clock with a broken hand, the waiting goes on and on with each day flicking back to where we were before.
Constant postponements. Doubts. Null and voiders. Finally, the time has come – the Premier League is well and truly back.
Few of you would have watched the K League’s return. Some of you might have picked your Bundesliga team. But we’ve all laughed at David Luiz.
Now it’s Liverpool’s time, and we return with one of the biggest games of the season. It’s the Merseyside Derby and Liverpool are just two wins away from a first Premier League title.
All the talk has been about Naby Keita who apparently has massively impressed in training and in the friendly match against Blackburn – scoring in a 6-0 demolition.
All eyes will be on Keita if he starts against Everton and with relatively low pressure on these final nine games, he could ignite his Liverpool career after signing in July 2018.
Keita’s three goals this season came in the span of 11 days (December 7-18) and if he’s able to get consistent game time he’s shown that he can be a valuable asset within this Liverpool team.
Back in December, Liverpool set a precedent by beating their Merseyside rivals 5-2 with Divock Origi scoring a brace and dominating the Toffees once again.
Will he start again? With Salah potentially not available having missed that Blackburn friendly and training on Wednesday, we may see Origi shoe-horned in out wide.
The rest of the side pretty much picks itself at this point.
My Team: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Origi, Firmino; Mane.
Prediction: Everton 1-4 Liverpool
David Lynch – Evening Standard – @LynchStandard
Virgil van Dijk won’t have enjoyed the break from football forced upon him by the coronavirus pandemic, but it could well prove beneficial in the long term.
The Dutchman has spent the last two-and-a-half years putting his body on the line for Liverpool, ignoring the knocks and niggles that are part and parcel of being a professional footballer to make himself a virtual ever-present.
That is largely because Jurgen Klopp knows his team aren’t quite the same without their talismanic No.4, and thus has been restricted to resting him in the domestic cups only. But, while the circumstances in which it has come about are regrettable, the three-month break from both games and contact training is likely to have done Van Dijk absolute wonders.
The 28-year-old has had a chance to shake off any minor physical complaints and been able to recharge his batteries mentally: he will come back in peak condition on both fronts.
That doesn’t bode well for Premier League strikers up and down the country, who will be coming up against the best version of Van Dijk over the nine remaining games. It is sure to be a sight to behold for supporters.
My Team: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino; Mane.
Prediction: Everton 0-2 Liverpool
Laurie – @LFCLaurie
So, after over one hundred anxious days of waiting, Liverpool are finally back in action in the Premier League.
There’s nothing rival fans can do now; Liverpool are games away from inevitably being crowned Premier League champions, and there is nothing they can do about it.
It might not be in the explosive fashion we all dreamt of, but after waiting for three decades, it’s hard to complain. And what better way is there to restart our season than with a Merseyside Derby?
Naby Keita in particular stands out; the Guinean has had a stop-start life on Merseyside thanks to recurring injury issues. It would be great to see him get a run of games in and prove why the hype around him is still justified.
The same goes for Takumi Minamino, who will hopefully have adjusted more to life at Anfield, and may benefit from a less pressured environment if the title is already wrapped up and won when he gets more minutes.
The most contentious area of the team to pick is undoubtedly midfield. Jordan Henderson should be a shoo-in to start with his tremendous performances in the second-half of the season, while Fabinho should join him.
It seems harsh on Wijnaldum, but Keita really has to get minutes and build momentum, which is why I’d let him take the third midfield space. No prizes for guessing who should be in the front three; expect Salah to be extremely motivated to chase down Jamie Vardy for his third consecutive Golden Boot.
My Team: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Firmino; Mane.
Prediction: Everton 0-2 Liverpool
Zac – @ZacLBell
Alisson can return following his hip injury, meaning he gets his first Merseyside Derby this season, with Adrian playing the other two. Hopefully Robertson is fit enough to start, in which case the strongest back four starts.
As long as Mo Salah is passed fit to start I can’t see the front three being any different. Should the Egyptian not make the eleven, it’ll be a toss-up between Origi and Minamino. Big things are still expected of the latter so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Klopp show a bit of faith in Minamino.
I can’t wait to see what Naby Keita has to offer during the back end of this season. He’s fit and raring to go, I just hope Klopp gives him an extended run in the team to give him that chance to impress.
If he can stay fit, I’m optimistic. I’m also intrigued to see if Elliot gets a run out as a sub if the game is done and dusted. With the Premier League letting clubs name nine substitutes, he’ll certainly be one of them so Klopp could be tempted to give him some minutes late on.
My Team: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Mane; Firmino.
Prediction: Everton 0-3 Liverpool