The first true test of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers’ squad management is set for Anfield this week, when last term’s Premier League runners-up take on surprisingly sprightly starters Aston Villa.
England striker Daniel Sturridge has come back from international duty injured (again), so Rodgers must choose between a wealth of attacking options to partner Mario Balotelli – many of whom were picked up over the summer – in his bid for three points at home to Paul Lambert’s men.
Luckily for the Northern Irishman, news.Ladbrokes has the answers. Here are our three best bets for the Merseyside clash.
Rickie Lambert to score the first goal @ 4/1
The 32-year-old simply has to start at Anfield after Liverpool’s 3-0 downing of Spurs at White Hart Lane, prior to the international break.
Playing two centre-forwards up front, ahead of arguably the Premier League’s player of the season so far in Raheem Sterling, worked like a dream in north London; the Reds rattled off eight shots on target to the Lilywhites’ one, despite racking up less than 40 per cent possession.
Five of Lambert’s 13 Premier League goals for Southampton last term were openers, while another three came within the first 40 minutes of their respective games.
The Liverpudlian also notched within three minutes of coming on for his England debut 12 months ago against Scotland.
Total first-half goals – One @ 33/20
Liverpool’s three Premier League games so far this term have all been 1-0 going into the break, with Rodgers’ side ahead in two of them.
Considering Aston Villa’s two pre-pie efforts during their 2-1 Premier League win at home to Hull last time out were the only first-45 goals scored in Lambert’s side’s four all-competition matches in 2014/15, this bet looks likely to land.
Adam Lallana to score the last goal @ 7/1
It’s hard to see this England international, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since the Three Lions’ World Cup exit, being thrown in from the off against Villa.
Of Rodgers’ other four summer signings that aren’t out-and-out defenders, only Balotelli has been handed a Premier League start at the earliest available opportunity, with Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Lambert all having to bide their time on the bench.
However, Lallana is expected to make his belated debut at some stage here, and with four of the former Saint’s nine Premier League strikes last season closing proceedings, backing him to bag last here makes a ton of sense.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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