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12 Sep 2014

LFC vs. Villa: Huge £25m boost after £80m mini-crisis, but attacker to be dropped?

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Finally, the interminably tedious international break is over, and it's back to business as usual for Liverpool. The Reds lost Daniel Sturridge, Emre Can, and Joe Allen to injury over the last week, but with Adam Lallana fit again, and Mario Balotelli well-rested, the Reds have more than enough quality in the squad to compensate for the absentees.

Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan, and Glen Johnson are also out injured, which means that, overall, the Reds will have over £80m worth of first-team talent sidelined for tomorrow's games.

With three games in a week - including the club's return to the Champions League - the strength in depth of LFC's squad will really be tested. The team I'd like to see for Villa:

----------------- Mignolet

Manquillo ---- Sakho -- Lovren ------ Moreno

----------------- Gerrard

----------- Hendo ----- Lallana

----- Sterling ------------ Markovic

--------------- Balotelli

* Coutinho has been in the USA, and last played on Wednesday, so his recovery time (including long-haul flights) is not ideal. Markovic hasn't played for a week, so he should theoretically be fresher. Having said that, the Brazilian started the last game on the bench, too, and a second game on the sidelines may start to feel like being dropped.

* With Skrtel out, Sakho will almost certainly get another chance in central defence, and if the Reds keep two clean sheets in a row with him in the team, then maybe I might start drinking the Sakho Kool-Aid too. LFC have never kept two clean-sheets in a row with Sakho in the team, however, so as the French would say: 'C'est impossible!'.

* Lallana is reportedly fit, but I have a feeling that Rodgers may decide to go with Lucas, and bring the ex-Southampton star on later in the game.

* The full-backs pick themselves, although there's an outside chance that Jose Enrique might get the nod.

Predicting a 2-0 win for Liverpool, Mark Lawrenson told the BBC:

"It'll be interesting to see what manager Brendan Rodgers does to compensate. I guess they will play a diamond with new signing Mario Balotelli up front. They've coped without Luis Suarez and I expect them to be OK without Sturridge, with Raheem Sterling in fine form".

My prediction: 2-2



  1. Nicolas Chamberlain12:05 am, September 13, 2014

    C'est possible.
    I agree with your line-up Jamie.
    Tomorrow will be interesting...

  2. The voice of reason.12:28 am, September 13, 2014

    I also would play that formation and that same starting eleven, spot on JK but the one thing i disagree with is the scoreline, i think we will be a lot stronger in our defense this season, and i predict a 2 - 0 win for our boys in red.

  3. I think because people expect us to drop points against Villa, we'll actually be more than prepared to grab all three.

  4. Your team looks spot on to me, but I firmly believe we will win in impressive style. 3-0 home win :-)

  5. Imagine Anfield if Balotelli were to score... place would go crazy

  6. Villa's form has been good, they have players like Delph and Vlaar who are on a high and ought to be respected. That said, Hutton, Cissokho and Senderon look to me like the kind of defenders our players will enjoy ripping apart. I like Cleverley and Delph as a midfielder partnership in theory. But they've not played together before, whereas our midfield unit is likely to be well-drilled and tactically tight. Up front they haven't got anything like the power to endanger us.

    I can't really see a goal for them, unless there's a big slice of luck involved. And I can't imagine them resisting us for 90 minutes. I can also see, if this is the first time that Lallana and Markovic get unleased, those players working hard to put down markers. Sterling will also want a goal or two to go with his good form so far, Balotelli likewise. So we will be on the hunt for goals for the whole match.

    So our team will be motivated, hungry; they are also superior in every position, and tactically very difficult for Villa to cope with. This looks like a big win to me. 5-0.

  7. This will be only the second time Sakho has played alongside another CB. His first was in our last match vs Spurs alongside Lovren. The only other CB Sakho has partnered is you guessed it, Skrtel...

    I am hoping Rodgers sticks with Lovren/Sakho as there seems to be communication and an understanding between the two.

  8. For once Jaimie, I completely agree with everything you typed! Only thing I might question is the formation. A Diamond Mid is still possible with the personnel you listed, with Sterling up top with Balo and Markovic at the point, with Lallana alongside Hendo.

  9. Spirit of the Shadows3:32 am, September 13, 2014

    Cut of weimann and agbolahor and villa won't score. They are the biggest threats. Also villa rely heavily on pacy counters, Stevie must have a good day. Joe Allen is going to be sorely missed for his tracking. Attack vise villa's full backs tend to leave space behind to attack , that being said Ron vlaar is a top class defender. I think we have enough firepower to win and hope balotelli scores.

  10. 2-2? Preposterous!!

  11. "He's looked very good. He is obviously short of match fitness, but the only way he is going to get that is by playing.

    "He featured in the game we had here at Melwood against Wolves behind closed doors, scored the winning goal and did very well. In training he's worked very, very hard.

    "It's just about him getting the minutes and the game time, and we'll look forward to introducing him back to that over the next couple of weeks."

    So Lallana may not start, could come on as a sub.

    Two options for me



    Really hope we do not start with Lucas and Gerrard. Our midfield will be throttled.

  12. Nevergonnacrackthecode8:07 am, September 13, 2014

    if lucas plays i am not watching

  13. Really do not understand why some people want to see Henderson as a holding midfielder. Complete and utter waste of his ability.

    What is more is we also played a very high defensive line vs Spurs so I really do not see Rodgers changing his approach now that he has Lovren and Sakho as a CB pair.

  14. Jaimie you are arguing on both fronts. First you say its not ideal for Coutinho to start the game as he won't be fresh. Then you say it will feel like he is being dropped?

  15. He actually has a habit of doing that. For example, he adamantly said that signing Alves would be a bad idea, yet it suddenly becomes 'good business' if he's signed as a free agent...

  16. "Sakho Kool Aid" ... I love it. You'll love it too JK, it tastes great.

    Allen would start if he was fit; maybe he'll have a surprise recovery, and I still think Coutinho is a likely starter, but if your assessment of fitness is right then the line-up is spot-on. What's great is that we can have so many injuries and yet still put out a very strong team. The new guys might not show the same fluidity in attack but it should hang together pretty well. And even still we'll have quality off the bench with Lambert, one of Coutinho/Markovic, Lucas and even Suso or Borini. The squad depth is brilliant.

  17. I get the impression that Sakho is more willing to emulate Lovren and be pro-active in defence. It led to a few confused moments against Spurs but I think it's a better approach than just sitting back and getting caught out. It's a bit more "seat of your pants" kind of defending and while it will lead to a few panic moments the good thing is that both players have the pace and skill to recover. Lovren made up for a couple of his minor errors last week with great recovery tackles and Sakho can do the same. Skrtel just seems to get lost in those situations.

  18. 5-0 for me!
    2 for Balotelli
    Sterling 1
    Lallana 1
    Markovic 1

  19. You nailed the starting eleven I think, and there is only one or two question there. Real question is the bench, Will there be place for Suso, Ibe, even Rossiter if we really believe in him..

  20. Sterling vs Cissokho, I am licking my lips

  21. Ron Vlaar is not top class you can put any defender in the Villa defence and he will look good because of their 7 at the back formation and very deep defensive line

  22. This will be quite tense. I hope br has watched well the videos of last games vs villa at home because we were too shit and they were brilliant, also think it will be a draw due to so many injuries, hopefully Im wrong!

  23. markovic and moreno on left is mouthwatering..i really liked the way they combined in man city game..sterling from right with manquillo..those full backs of villa will go through hell i guess..and vlaar is not 100 percent fit too..2-0 or 2-1 win for the reds

  24. thats the team i want to start with Jk........impressive circular argument in regards to tino

  25. In my opinion, the way I read that is that it will be better for the team to not start Coutinho because he played mid-week, but Coutinho might get still get frustrated by not playing.

    I see what he means, but I don't put a lot behind it. We are playing a ton of games now, which means Coutinho is going to play this week if he doesn't play today.

  26. I agree with the 4-3-3 especially. Though I'd like to see Flanagan given a shot to play.

    The only formation I'd have an issue with is if we stick Balotelli up top by himself. Our team thrives when the main striker is getting consistent support, not when he's by himself.

  27. Liverpool 3 2 go lads.

  28. Jesus wept Borini and Lambert have come on/ we really are an average team/ where is the strength and depth and quality BR?

  29. We looked toothless today. With two defeats already from our first four matches it looks pretty grim at the moment. With Studge we struggled to look like scoring, Balo was not that effective and Lambert did nothing. Villa deserved to win this one.