8 Dec 2014

LFC line-up vs. Basel: £58m trio out? BR to make drastic changes? Massive boost as defensive solidity returns

It's crunch time again for Liverpool! After several decent results, the club's downward spiral in the Premier League is temporarily on hold, but anything but a win on Tuesday and LFC face a depressing early-exit from the Champions League. The pressure is well on truly on Brendan Rodgers to get the right result against Basel, but with goals still hard to come-by, can the Reds pull off this much-needed victory?

The short answer is: Yes, of course. Liverpool are more than capable of beating Basel, and on paper, the Reds are the superior side.

As we've seen repeatedly this season, though, relative squad strength counts for nothing where Liverpool are concerned (Crystal Palace, anyone?), so Tuesday's result is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Brendan Rodgers recently described the 2-2 draw with Ludogorets as a 'turning point' for the Reds, and given recent results, there seems to be an element of truth to that. However, at the weekend, the team took a half-step back against Sunderland, and a dour 0-0 draw is hardly effective preparation LFC's most important game of the season.

The major positive to take from the last two weeks is defensive solidity - Liverpool have conceded only 1 goal in 3 games, picking up two clean sheets along the way, and that's a real boost going into tomorrow's game. Rodgers has a few big decisions to make, but at the moment, the team almost picks itself:

* Lucas and Toure have played a key part in this defensive resurgence, so they both deserve to keep their places on merit. That means Joe Allen will be on the bench again.

* After being rested on Saturday, Gerrard will inevitably return to the team.

* Coutinho will probably make way for Adam Lallana. The Brazilian had another ineffective game against Sunderland, and his form issues are a growing concern.

* After being subbed off at half-time against Leicester, Rodgers dumped Manquillo from the squad, so I doubt he'll make the cut for Basel. Moreno will probably continue at left back, with Johnson inevitably on the right.

* With no other viable options available, Rickie Lambert will almost certainly start up-front. It'll be interesting to see if Rodgers brings Borini back into the squad after ignoring him against Sunderland.

With the above in mind, I expect to see the following line-up:

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

Johnson --- Toure - Skrtel ---- Moreno

-------------- Lucas

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

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

-------- Sterling - Lambert

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson expects his old club to progress, and in his column for the Liverpool Echo on Sunday, he urged the players to 'keep their cool' during the game, and added:

"Basel weren’t great when they beat Liverpool earlier in the group. And they aren’t as good this year as they were last year. I think you can seriously get at them. And I fully expect the Reds to be in the knockout stages – if they keep their heads".

Historically, Rodgers has a penchant for making unnecessary changes to winning teams (i.e. dropping goalscorers/assisters etc), but now is not the time to make significant changes to the team. To me, that means no Lovren, Can, or Markovic in the starting line-up.

The only change Rodgers should contemplate making is Coutinho for Lallana; other than that, keep aces in their places (i.e. Lucas at DM; Gerrard further forward etc), and stick with the current (effective) formation.

Granted, watching Liverpool play right now is - for the most part - only marginally preferable to watching paint dry, but the team is getting results, and that's all the matters.

My prediction: 2-1

Author:



90 comments:

  1. He was just everywhere against Leicester.

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  2. Staying in the CL is essential for our prospects of getting decent players in January.
    No excuses.

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  3. Worked for Djemba Djemba

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  4. Yes twice as 1 is half the player fans expected him to be.

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  5. I think Couts time at the club may be coming an end, Looks like he reached his peak talent last year because I cannot see him improving, he continually makes the same mistakes. I guess that just leaves one, injury affected, successful signing by Brendan. Embarrassing. Have no hope for the game tomorrow, just hope we go through, although bore draw is more likely.

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  6. Nothing worked for Djemba Djemba

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  7. He's only 22 for god sake and you can't see how he can improve?

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  8. Good article Jaimie, difficult to argue with any of that

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  9. markovic terrible again against sunderland. horrible signing, why we never signed a player with true class like Pedro, Hulk, Reus, Mkhtiryan, and Benteke. i really love Benteke and i actually believe he has the potential to be the outright best striker in the world. hes 23 and from the momemt he stepped in the Prem he looked an absolute monster and hes never looked back. if he played for Liverpool hed get double the goals he got at Villa. hes a real centre forward and after all the times he destroyed us i actually thought BR would sign him. he can pass, do nippy skills, dribble, hold up the ball, head, take free kicks, quick, uses his strength as seen on many occasions, great movement and a thunderous shot. for me in the summer as soon as Suarez left i would have been very simple and signed Sissokho for £20M, Benteke £25M, Hulk £35M, Nathaniel Clyne £15M, Ricardo Rodriguez £15M. total: £110M. these are players we needed. we need a powerhouse midfielder like Sissokho, we needed a top PL striker either benteke or bony before Suarez left, we needed a direct PROVEN winger like Hulk who we know will contribute and replace Suarez flair and shooting, and we needed two top full backs. instead weve signed Lovren who is horrid and we dont need, Markovic who is horrid and we definately dnt need, Balotelli who is a panic buy, Lallana who is a top player but we had Sterling who plays the same position and is younger and produces more, Lambert who dont fit in with the Philosophy,


    if we did what i did we would be in a much better position
    Clyne-----------------Toure-----------Skrtel--------------Rodriguez
    -------------------------Lucas---------------Sissokho
    Hulk--------------------------Gerrard------------------Sterling
    -------------------------------Benteke

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  10. I don't care who plays. I just want to see attacking play and not the boring, listless back passing in our own third that we have been subjected to these few months.

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  11. To change the team for Basel would be complete madness. This game is crying out for solid, experienced players

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  12. Can't help but disagree about Markovic, did they pay too much, yes , but we have not seen enough of the guy to make a true judgement. He got ten minutes against Sunderland, was he any worse than Coutinho or Lambert, I don't think so, he showed pace and hunger, Liverpool look jaded and almost confused this season, we've gone from pacey with a ruthless apetite for the ball to slow and second guessing, when lazar came on we had a bit of fluidity again. I think he'll come good but he needs to be given the chance. Too many lfc players been picked on last seasons performances and not the last game.A player is only as good as his last game.

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  13. I recon drop stirling and play couts as he beats more players makes more passes and has more shots without giving to many fouls away, and bring R.H on later for impact.

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  14. Basel counter attack pretty effectively whilst we struggle to score against good organized defending / or teams parking the bus i expect Basel to win 1- 0.

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  15. I disagree and btw Hulk is one of the most overrated players of his generation.

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  16. Yep, Adam Lallana and Sadam Lallana.

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  17. If Basel do not win then a draw is just as easy for them as we cannot hit a barnyard door. I cannot see any fireworks from us tonight if we go with Lambert up on his own.


    It is becoming increasingly difficult to watch us play this season.

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  18. we are too weak up front; lack of creativity. A zero, zero results means, bye bye...........

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  19. The mancs are 3rd now. Van Gaal talsk far too much but he is getting the results even after a shaky start. Clearly we need a more experienced manager or a proper DOF who can run the show.

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  20. Verm,
    You are 100% correct about Coutinho. First, there is no on up front who moves. Sterling is the only one moving but he is drawing a crowd. Another guy whose game SORELY misses Suarez's unstoppable work rate.

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  21. Clearly you didn't watch the game. Results are results but LVG is having little influence on this United team at the moment. It was more like a two goal van Persie bailout.


    The difference? No SAS bailout this season. Still, you'd refute any such claim about the manager last season but this season you want Rodgers out every week. Rodgers has made multiple mistakes this season but even a manager with three times the experience of Rodgers will struggle to get results with an inept Lovren, fading Gerrard and in all honesty a League One quality Lambert.

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  22. Yes it is getting more difficult to watch and Loges as you say the fireworks aren't there its going to take a big turnaround to go through.

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  23. Some good points Pete but where is the creativity we coughed up for too our attack is just plain horrible the finishing is below par and the worst part is even with a fit Balotelli, Lamberts our best option on his own up front.

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  24. The next 5 days will determine B R FUTURE - so hope he gets some luck but we have been so poor that I am optimistic - Basel were much better than us in the first game - Markovic might do something at last ?? WE can but hope and to make things worse Manure are flucking every game

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  25. If we believe the hype our under 21 have got 5 potential world beaters - Sinclair - wilson - Kent etc --- so where the hell are they ??

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  26. What is it with you? UTD are 3rd and that is that. They are playing better attacking football than us.


    Will the Mancs score as many with Balotelli up on his own or Lambert?


    Skrtel is just as inept I am afraid and so is Johnson but another manager would have seen by now that Balotelli up on his own and Lambert up on his own too is not going to send shivers down anyones spine and then continue to play Sterling out wide when he is our most dangerous player and surely should be played centrally.


    At least I cannot be accused of being a Rodgers apologist like I have been in the past so not sure what you are trying to get at. Barking up the wrong tree as usual.

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  27. There is no way they are getting game when 20 million pound players are struggling to do squat.
    Unfortunately all they are is potential world beaters no more no less.

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  28. ------------Lukas
    Hendo---------Lallana
    Sterling------------Markovic
    -----------Lambert

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  29. The point could smack you in the face and you'd still not get it. You consistently show an inability to simply comprehend.


    Liverpool could have LVG in charge and there would be no difference. I'm referring to your point about experience. IMO Rodgers has let us down and made several key errors, but there is only so much onus you can put on him.


    Balotelli should have done better thus far regardless of tactical set up. Markovic had a good run in the team a while ago and delivered Downing-esque performances. Lovren has been a shambles. There are things you can clearly pinpoint Rodgers for, and there are other things that you cannot.

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  30. Lineup Rodger most likely will go with


    Mignolet
    Johnson Skrtel Toure Moreno
    Lucas Henderson
    Lallana Gerrard Sterling
    Lambert

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  31. It's a loss by default because of that specific formation and team sheet right?


    If the overpaid pansies play to their ability, we should get through to the next round.

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  32. Problem is that if we don't have the result at 65th minute, you just can't sub off Gerrard. And it is a big question is he up for 90 minutes...

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  33. As usual the dogmatic approach...

    You were referring to SAS as per your quote below

    "The difference? No SAS bailout this season."

    I am talking about giving this squad to an experienced manager and we will start seeing better results. If you believe otherwise then so be it.

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  34. It is so painful seeing manu winning on a such tough ground with two shots on goal and one more off the target.. We were better than that, at home, vs 'easier' opponent and got a nil...

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  35. That has been the problem with playing Lambert and Balotelli up on their own. They are not a threat in any shape or form but Rodgers will persist instead of giving Borini a run alongside Sterling or an injection of pace from Markovic.


    Carries on doing the same thing and expecting different results.

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  36. I dont think that Sterling is an answer in the attack. Out those 3 positions- winger, attacker and AM, I am sure attacker is the worst solution. Markovic just might be good there, but also better in other areas.

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  37. “As as a club we felt that buying Mario was the solution at the time,

    I felt it was a risk we needed to take with Mario because, as a group, we couldn’t afford not to a that time. It was obviously late on and we needed to have someone in. It’s something that we can’t regret now.



    Now if this isn't mismanagement.. And cutting the price with it... After being great and brilliant and hard working after each game he played...

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  38. Couldn't get myself to read it after the first line. And saw Hulk in 'our' line up which means I was right not to..

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  39. Oh common, there is always room for disagreement...

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  40. Problem is that he can't complete a simple pass to Sterling or Gerrard...

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  41. Problem is that he can't complete a simple pass to Sterling or Gerrard.

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  42. Completely disagree. Sterling resembles the closest thing to what we had with Suarez and playing him out wide when he is super fast, strong on the ball and very tricky compared to Lambert up on his own pretty much explains why the opposition have an easy time defending against us.

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  43. Yes the players need to step up we paid big money for them and to them and they show the fight of a drowned cat.

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  44. Well on the money they get you expect far better whether it be quality of play or fight.
    Fair enough though each to their own.

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  45. Neither was Sterling a good solution alongside Lambert or Balotelli. When?

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  46. We were loosing and made a sub pushing him forward- I can't recall which one was that..

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  47. Agreed but could our club have lured a Di Maria or Falcao even Mata not that we would have probably anyway.

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  48. What for 5 minutes?


    Playing two up top will see much more threat compared to sticking with Balotelli or Lambert up on their own who are as frightning as a furry little teddy bear to the opposition.

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  49. Think it was more. Regardless, I don't see him as a striker.

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  50. You do believe that we will win tonight, right?

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  51. I still think LVG with all of his experience would get better results out of our current squad. Look at how UTD were struggling at the start of the season. They were playing some of the most terrible football in the league. Now they are 3rd and still improving. The table does not lie.

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  52. "He's played as a striker as a youngster so he understands that position well. It's something I can consider in the future."



    Who is this saying what about Sterling?

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  53. I don't see him as a striker.

    That is me talking about him.

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  54. Improving. The are playing better than what they did earlier in the season and they are 3rd.

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  55. A drastic change BR?! 9 new players in one window in a drastic change! And they are all useless ALL OF YOUR CHOICES! YOU ARE SO OUT OF YOUR DEPTH AND ALL YOURE DOING IS BRINGING LIVERPOOL DOWN WITH YOU! PLEASE LEAVE YOU ARE THE MOST USESLSS MANAGER IVE EVER SEEN!!

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  56. Do we really know what motivates or de-motivates Mario Balotelli? The man is an enigma. I said a while ago that the only person who decides if Mario is up for something is Mario. No amount of words from the manager or his agent or his club captain or his international captain seem to make any difference. He just is who he is. And in the end Rodgers is just being honest, isn't he? Why does he need to sugar coat it or lie? Wouldn't the player just see through that or is Mario also stupid? Rodgers said these exact same things when the player was first brought in so clearly it's a standard line for him. Plus he's got a sports psychologist in his back pocket.


    I'm not saying you don't have a point - it's a stark statement to make and not what you'd expect from a manager, but I'm not sure it's so clearly a problem for the player. Unconventional players need unconventional treatment and Mario has otherwise been treated extraordinarily well by Rodgers, has started almost every game he's been fit for and has been endlessly encouraged by the club.

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  57. we'll we tried on alexis sanchez and we all know where he is now ...

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  58. I think we can get a good result if midfield churns some creativity. It's a perfect opportunity for Lallana to prove his worth. He should be given more game time.

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  59. It seems to me that this statement from BR who is always overpraising means he is out ASAP, and that is counter productive in many ways.

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  60. think so too, he's doing the same with manu (eventhough they have the striker upfront we're missing), their defence is below average, they lost several key players over the last 2 years, have a lot of injuries, still LVG manages to get them into the top4. there's no doubt LVG is the better manager than BR.

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  61. Agree . Any good manager can make this squad world class, certainly BR can't do so.
    Lallana,Markovic, Can ,et al have great potentials. Sadly the manager doesn't know how to bring best out of them.

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  62. awful is still better than us

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  63. Balotelli did an interview recently on tv here in Australia one think i am sure of is he knows his limitations.
    Although he is known to be a bit immature i thought he pulled off the interview well and seems like a nice guy anyway.
    I don't think he is as silly as people would like to think.

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  64. And more balls. Vs Sunderland 75 percent of our balls went through Sterling and COUTS. Sterling I know why, but Couts is not proving worthy this season..

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  65. half of league 1 is better than us..

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  66. That's why I believe BR lacks decision making. He brought Lallana for 25 million. Throughout the summer he was singing praises in the name of Lallana.
    But now he barely plays him.If you want to get best out of a player , give that player more game time. BR acts stupid by dropping the new signings to bench. Players need time to gel up.Even if results don't come in first 2-3 matches , they'll surely do but manager needs to have balls to stick to some philosophy.
    But I seriously doubt if BR has one.

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  67. His work rate is not real high either and defensively he is found wanting.

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  68. Liverpool and United's form is almost identical. LVG would not make a difference on our team. However, the only difference he is making on United is the restoration of required mentality. Last season under Moyes, United would have given up. LVG isn't getting United results that are better than ours because of tactical genius, it's because he has a great striker who is fit, and we don't. Oh, and also because he has a better keeper. United's luck will run out soon if they keep playing like that.

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  69. well I was quite optimistic but i'm getting more and more worried.
    on the one hand Basel is a much better team than Leicester and Sunderland, playing well on the counter-attack + they only need a draw.
    on the other hand anfield was made for dramatic CL-nights. games like today are the reason why i became a liverpool supporter, and we're Liverpool, so everything is possible. Can't wait to be honest ;-)

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  70. LVG has had little influence on United thus far. I said that before but you conveniently ignored it. I referred to SAS last season to what van Persie just did for them in the match against the Saints!! 2 shots on target, great attacking display which trumps anything we can muster up?


    The difference between Liverpool and United right now is no SAS bailout. If you think LVG is working wonders over there then think again and maybe watch a football match or two. We don't have the SAS to get us out of trouble. The manager has made some poor decisions and players are under-performing.

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  71. Exactly. If we had Sturridge, we'd probably be at least 6 points better off from games that ended up in 0-0 draws (against Sunderland and Hull). I hate how people act like the way United is playing is in line with some supposed intricate, genius plan of LVG's. LVG himself knows that they are pretty lucky to be where they are now.

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  72. last year under moyes they had RVP and Rooney too, they failed miserably. It's not only about 1-2 good players doing the job, it's about their manager coaching them what to do...

    On paper we have 2-3 world class CB's, but the players are failing to build an average defence, if you ask me this is primarly due to BR

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  73. They haven't improved at all.

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  74. To me that seems like typical United and typical Liverpool.


    Hopefully things get better and your epic prediction from last season continues :)

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  75. if you do not believe that your team can beat that Basel, then i feel sorry for you buddy, why you even bother?
    no point there to support a team which according to you everything is sh..
    are you a mazo?

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  76. I agree with that, defending has always been an issue and I've questioned in the past if Rodgers even focuses on it at all. That's something you can pin on Rodgers. This problem has always been present and we no longer have the goals to paper over the cracks.


    But could you say that LVG would get Lovren to play like Beckenbauer? Is Rodgers to blame because Lovren defends worse than some 7 year old's I have coached? Balotelli hasn't taken any chances and Markovic has played like Downing - is Rodgers to blame for this? IMO, no. As I've said, there are things you can point the finger at Rodgers for, and others that you clearly cannot.

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  77. That sums it it up... 3-1...

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  78. I am waiting for The match regarding the prediction. But yes we will...

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  79. Verm: I hear that but on his off day(s), regardless of who plays up front, he looks terrible. Whereas Oscar, Hazard and even Erikson among similar mould players, seem to be better during on their 'of'f day.... or playing with Soldado upfront. And as a couple of below posts point out he struggles to pass the ball five yards sometimes very often, also lightweight and can't shoot for sh it.


    A player with Couts quality should be able to step up to the plate, seems to me as if most of his skill requires a Suarez type in front of him. Gerrard in his pomp starred regardless of who was playing up front.

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  80. Seems like you rate Lallana very highly, JK. However, it will be difficult even for him to be a CM and a striker at the same time.

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  81. That's funny. It was also essential for us getting decent players in the summer. I wonder what happened there?

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  82. That would leave only Sturridge as a succesful transfer....when hes fit...

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  83. My point though is that we shouldn't discard him, we should move him down the pecking order. He won't be our Oscar or Eriksen, but he is someone who can contribute when he is in the right frame of mind.

    I just think we shouldn't write him off. It seems he isn't going to become the consistent and reliable no.10 we'd hoped, but I think he is a good option. I think it'd still cost more than the £8.5mil we paid for him to get a player of equal quality.

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