Liverpool vs St. Gallen, pre-season friendly, July 15, 2009
Slowly slowly the season is edging back to life.
Wednesday night sees last season’s Premier League runners-up return to action after an eight week absence, as Liverpool take on Swiss outfit St. Gallen in the first of their pre-season friendlies.
The Reds’ will be missing a host of their star players as Spaniards Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Alvaro Arbeloa are still on holiday after playing in the Confederations Cup, while Javier Mascherano is also still excused from the squad until he is expected back at training this weekend.
Of the more established stars, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher should both play at least a half, while new signing Glen Johnson will likely receive his first outing in a red shirt after completing his mega-move from Portsmouth last week.
This should leave ample opportunity for Liverpool’s fringe players to shine with Rafa Benitez predicted to take a liberal stance on substitutions as he starts assessing his squad ahead of the long season lying just around the corner. Youngsters including Emiliano Insua, Nabil El Zhar, Steven Darby, Jay Spearing, Daniel Pacheco, Krisztian Nemeth and Adam Hammill will all be hoping to prove that they are capable of moving up into the first team, while Andriy Voronin will be aiming toÂ show that he can again do a job for the Anfield giants after his season’s loan at Hertha Berlin.
As for the Swiss, St. Gallen’s domestic season has already got underway in a positive manner after recording a 2-nil win over local powerhouses Basel in week one of the new season. Legendary Swiss striker Mario Frick, 37, and young forward Moreno Costanzo both netted in the opening match of the season.
Being the first game of a long season, expectations of a Liverpool whitewash should be tempered and Benitez’s main focus will be the fitness of his players. That said, it would be little surprise to see the hosts score first (13/5) and the long shot of St. Gallen winning the first half and Liverpool winning the second (28/1) could well be worth a small punt.
101gg predicts: Liverpool 2 – St. Gallen 1 (15/2)