New Reds get a feel of Anfield

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will hope that striker Christian Benteke (No. 9) can help the club do better at home this season.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will hope that striker Christian Benteke (No. 9) can help the club do better at home this season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Rodgers holds training in famous stadium to get everyone ready to be invincible at home

LONDON • Brendan Rodgers has given his new players a sneak preview of Anfield ahead of their first Premier League home game of the season against Bournemouth tonight (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).

The Liverpool manager handed competitive debuts to five new signings in the opening weekend's 1-0 win at Stoke City. The Reds prevailed, courtesy of a stunning, long-range strike by Philippe Coutinho in the 86th minute.

Liverpool encountered some difficulties at home last season.

They won just four of their first 11 matches at Anfield, and finished the campaign with four losses and five draws on Merseyside.

In a bid to help the new recruits acclimatise to the famous stadium, Rodgers held a training session there on Friday.

"I felt it was important for our new players, and the new staff, to acquaint themselves with Anfield," he said at a pre-match press conference. "They know how special it is. They trained well last night (Friday) and, obviously, we're looking forward to the game on Monday.

"It's a really special place to play football and it's going to be very important again for us, if we're going to have a good season, that our home form is second to none.

"Building confidence early on is vital, we need to get the old vibrancy round the stadium again and starting off with a win would obviously help."

Liverpool toiled at the Britannia Stadium until Coutinho's late flash of inspiration and Rodgers will hope to see more invention from his forward players against promoted Bournemouth.

New £32.5 million (S$71.5 million) striker Christian Benteke saw his only attempt at goal blocked while Adam Lallana gave an ineffective display.

Forward Roberto Firmino, a £29 million acquisition from Hoffenheim, made a late entrance as a substitute. Rodgers revealed the Brazilian would soon be in a position to start after building up his fitness.

Rodgers could name an unchanged side for the visit of Eddie Howe's team, which would mean 18-year-old Joe Gomez continuing at left-back after making an impressive competitive debut at Stoke.

Liverpool twice won at Bournemouth in Cup competitions last year, prevailing 2-0 in the fourth round of the 2013-14 FA Cup and winning 3-1 in last season's League Cup quarter-finals.

Howe will be the first manager to take Bournemouth to Anfield since January 1968, when a team playing under the banner of Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic lost 1-4 in an FA Cup third-round replay.

He is also expected to keep faith with the XI selected on the opening weekend, when the club from the south coast lost 0-1 at home to Aston Villa in their first-ever, top-flight fixture.

He wants to give the players who took Bournemouth to the Championship title a chance to prove themselves in the Premier League.

Aside from Harry Arter, Shaun MacDonald and Christian Atsu, his squad are fully fit.

At 37, Howe is one of the most highly rated young managers in the country. And he is excited about pitting his wits against Rodgers and his newly appointed assistant Sean O'Driscoll.

Howe previously worked under O'Driscoll, who was one of his predecessors at Bournemouth, and has been impressed by the philosophies that 42-year-old Rodgers has successively instilled at Swansea City and Liverpool.

"(Rodgers has) been a role model, really, for me, someone you look up to and admire," said Howe.

"I admired watching his Swansea teams play.

"When you try and analyse games and analyse systems, and philosophies, he's certainly someone that I've looked at.

"I respect the way he conducts himself as well."

Howe said O'Driscoll was "hugely influential" when the pair worked together.

"I certainly believe Sean had a huge part in my management style," he added. "I was very lucky, as a young professional, to have such a forward-thinking coach as Sean."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LIVERPOOL v BOURNEMOUTH 
Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 3am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'New reds get a feel of anfield'. Print Edition | Subscribe