19 Feb 2015

Confirmed lineup vs. Besiktas: £26m star returns; Surprise debut for exciting attacker

Despite a couple of good performances, Mario Balotelli is back on the bench for tonight's Europa League clash with Besiktas, but Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has sprung a surprise by naming Jordon Ibe in the starting line-up.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Can, Skrtel, Sakho, Allen, Henderson, Moreno, Ibe, Coutinho, Lallana, Sturridge

SUBS: Lovren, Lambert, Manquillo, Borini, Balotelli, Sterling, Ward

BESIKTAS: Gonen, Kurtulus, Franco, Gulum, Motta, Hutchinson, Kavlak, Tore, Sosa, Sahan, Ba

* Great to see Ibe make his European debut; Balotelli will be smarting though as he's basically been snubbed for a teenager.

* £26m-rated Sterling clearly passed a late fitness test, but it's a good idea to keep him on the bench. After all, Liverpool have won the last two games without him, so there's no need to rush him back.

* Three strikers on the bench? That doesn't happen often (!)

Probable formation:

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

---- Can --------- Skrtel ------ Sakho

Ibe -------- Allen ----- Hendo ----- Moreno

------------ Lallana -- Coutinho

----------------- Sturridge

My prediction: 2-1 to LFC

Author:



186 comments:

  1. He had three strikers and three defenders on the bench at Palace at the weekend

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  2. Balo should not be bothered by Ibe, he is basically replacing Markovic in a 343 lineup.

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  3. Yep was about to say that. Plus I am sure Balo wouldn't be playing wingback so can't see how he was snubbed for Ibe.

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  4. No real surprises, except perhaps Coutinho starting.


    Balo and Ibe play in different spots, so that's no issue.


    Enjoy the game, folks.


    By the way, is it blasphemous to say that I'd like John Stones to play for Liverpool? I know he's Blue and all, and he just got sent off, but he's a really good player. Anyway, just musing.

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  5. No surprise Ibe playing. He may have played even if Markovic was fit. Balotelli needs to stay benched and really earn a place in the starting 11. Couthino could do with a rest but you'll probably see Sterling replace him at some point.

    Have to be careful with Moreno on 2 yellows. 1 more and he's banned - probably for 10 matches! No Johnson on the bench. Perhaps he's got the message now.

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  6. I would have liked to see what a Balotelli & Sturridge partnership has to offer, maybe we will see it at some point in the game. Allen played ok in the last game, can he possibly have 2 good games in a row, I very much doubt it. Would have also liked to see Lovren being brought back into the fold, with Can in Allens place. Afterall both Lovren and Balotelli are quality experienced players who haven't had a regular chance to shine in this new formation and new found confidence running through the team.

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  7. Lovren must be kicking himself for leaving Southampton. One cannot imagine that he is a happy place and what an awful amount of money that has been wasted.

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  8. What's a day on this site without some sort of contrived controversy

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  9. FSG are not going to meet Johnson's demands otherwise he would have signed a new contract already. Glen is probably sulking now. What Rodgers saw in Johnson is a mystery.

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  10. Ah, I see - you were about to display you indefatigable pedantry once again? Read the article: I said it doesn't happen OFTEN, which is true, so quite why you and Islesfan seem to get so much glee out of highlighting pointless things is anyone's guess.

    Also, I never suggested that Balotelli would play as a wing-back; it's patently obvious I mean that he was snubbed for a place *in the team*, not, position-specific.

    As I said: utter pedantry.

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  11. Steady; we already have one Gandalf the White

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  12. To be fair, you did say "subbed for a teenager", so we are rather left with the impression that Ibe and Balo are competing for a spot.


    *slips shades on slowly*

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  13. You know (as I have told you) I take that as a compliment.
    As for the place in the team argument then I still don't understand. Ibe has gotten a place in the team before and I can't see why Balo would have a problem with him playing in a position he would not. Cout, Lallana I could sort of see, Sturridge yes for sure but not Ibe as the position is relevant unless 21 year old Can has also got a place in the team ahead of Balo?

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  14. I merely pointed out the fact that he had 3 strikers and 3 defenders at the weekend. It's a fact; not a criticism of your remark.

    In fact, I made the same exact remark on Saturday when I saw the bench lineup.

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  15. A couple of people did.

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  16. Only a raging pedant desperately looking for something to complain about would take it like that, and actually post about it. With a little rejigging, Balotelli could've been in the team ahead of Ibe, and that's what I'm referring to.

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  17. You don't see it because you're so consumed by pedantry that you can't see the wood for the trees.

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  18. Ibe a surprise to start?!? Not for me was nailed on for a place in the first 11 tonight. Happy with the team but would have brought Lovren in for Allen and shifted Can into midfield.

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  19. "A raging pedant"... :D


    Okay, I'm voting you up just for that.


    Fair enough; point taken.

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  20. Agreed. I just hope he doesn't sign the deal that's on the table. I think BR gave him plenty of opportunities to show some class but it's evident that the team has moved on and he's no longer required.

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  21. No i don't see it as it is a manufactured touch of controversy. But heyho if we all agreed it would be boring no?

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  22. Fair enough re: the formation adjustment.


    In my opinion, Balotelli should have been in the team instead of Allen or Lallana, and we could have easily converted to a 3-5-2.

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  23. Rodgers wants him to sign a new contract. One of his lovechilds.

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  24. It's not really a surprise...

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  25. It would be worse to change a winning team structure just to accommodate Balo from the start

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  26. P.S I wasn't referring to you with the 'raging pedant' comment.

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  27. The upvote is specifically for the "*slips shades on slowly*". Epitome of cool

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  28. Rabid Anti-dentite!

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  29. Hey, guess what: I wrote the article, so to ME it's a surprise. Is that okay with you? Thanks.

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  30. OK rejigging wise. Either we change more than one position or we play Lallana or Cout in midfield with Allen? Or Lallana could play wide like he did the other day for a while but that was against a team not really attacking us.

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  31. Haha I gathered, and no worries; I had a proper chuckle when I read it

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  32. Was has Balotelli ever played in attacking midfield?!? Definitely not an option. This position in our formation requires extreme pressing. Never gonna happen.

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  33. I just hope Allen can handle Sosa, he is a fine player, played in the CL Final last year with Athletico.

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  34. In fairness to JK, with that formation, Balotelli would have been more of a forward than a midfielder.

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  35. Libel! I love toothpaste!

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  36. I reckon he hopes he don't! When the contract was offered Ibe and Markovic weren't playing in his position. To be honest he doesn't have a position in this system.

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  37. Soon enough you're going to be saying they should have their own schools!

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  38. Not as it seems he has been preferred to Markovic in that position of late.

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  39. The manager said of Johnson's contract talks: "There's nothing new as of yet. I know that the club and his agents spoke towards the beginning of the season. But I'm hopeful that he will stay.

    "We're into the last year, but I'm hopeful that we can find a solution for that and he can be here. Like every player, you want that security. You probably want it to be sorted earlier than it is now.



    Please no!

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  40. Hahaha, cheers fellas.


    *swishes coat and turns away*

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  41. Joe Allen just recorded what was possibly the weakest shot ever in terms of sheer strength (or in this case, lackthereof)

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  42. It's not attacking midfield; it's a second-striker role, which is Balotelli's *self-confessed* preferred role.

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  43. Bah; I'll let them read my lips once a week.

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  44. Well he can't say "I hope he leaves" because he's still here.


    Encouraging that the team hasn't spoken with his agents since the beginning of the season.

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  45. I thought they had only offered him a one year with no pay rise which was not accepted. Not sure where I got that from! Well, if there's no contract on the table don't put one there. Not needed.

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  46. When the teams were lining up on the field before the handshakes I got the genuine sense that Mamadou Sakho can lead this team. He has this aura that permeates even the TV screen.


    And how good is Jordon Ibe! To think I thought he should stay out on loan.

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  47. Very good player, Sosa.

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  48. We're so hesitant, one too many touches all the time. Pitch is terrible

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  49. F*#king Joe Allen!

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  50. Weird game... I can't tell if it's been well played or if it's outright sloppy

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  51. What a hit Moreno

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  52. Man if you are going to use these pathetic insults at least do them properly. Lovechilds? Love children?

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  53. What is going on here?

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  54. Would you call the role Coutinho and Lallana are playing a second striker? I wouldn't.

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  55. Anyone else think we've been pretty poor so far? Too many touches and too slow. Besiktas look comfortable to me.

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  56. How good is Ibe...

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  57. Good and going to get a lot better and pleased he ' s just signed a new 5 year deal

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  58. Sturridge looks well off the pace tonight. Still probably our best chance of a goal though. I said yesterday I didn't think Coutinho should play, he looks weary. I would expect to see Sterling or Balo shortly. Possibly Lovren to get Can into midfield

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  59. Agree we need Sterling

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  60. Redemption is calling. Will they answer?

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  61. I meant Balotelli and Lovren ;-)

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  62. So many nearly's tonight.
    Here come the subs COME ON LADS!!!

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  63. The whole team looks knackered

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  64. Besiktas nearly got a goal !

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  65. Hendo goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. Mario's looking sharp

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  66. Sturridge has been pretty average too, but always has a goal in him. Jordan Ibe looks shattered!! have mercy

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  67. No I was right the first time

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  68. looks like lallana will go right wing back with sterling in behind the front two .... could be good

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  69. Sturridge: its all about me

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  70. Don't believe the hype he tried to put a cross in!

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  71. i hope so :)

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  72. Get in there Ibe.

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  73. It will take him a few games to get up to speed!

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  74. Come on Balotelli

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  75. is there an argument about the pen?

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  76. get in!!!!!!

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  77. Sturridge acting like a baby. Who effin cares who takes the penalty ???

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  78. three games .... its all about Balo. been a leader out there tonight

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  79. Don't like the arguments but Mario was right to take it Studge is off tonight

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  80. I don't mind Sturridge and Mario wanting it.


    I mind the fact that Henderson looked like he had zero control over the situation as the Captain.

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  81. stude I don't think has ever scored a penalty for us. He always misses.

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  82. Yep and had a word with IBE to make that run

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  83. what was the argument about..balo has got the splendid record from the spot..if gerrard is off the pitch it has to be balo


    and perfect penalty

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  84. Well done Mario, he deserves that tonight. Hate seeing the players bickering like that, it's so unprofessional. I imagine they'll be getting a boot in the plums from Brendan and Stevie for that

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  85. ibe was running on fumes. Im not bypassing Ibes influence there, he's a real throw back to what a winger should be. BUT Balo's got some huge nuts on him1

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  86. Yep, I prefer Balo all day to take it. Studge is good but Balo is more composed.

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  87. Studge looks frustrated tonight but things must have been agreed beforehand and it was up to Hendo to take control anyway

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  88. after having a second look Hendo took the situation in hand and gave it to Balo.

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  89. Hendo dealt with it. He gave the ball to Balo and thats that.

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  90. I've been a massive advocate for Hendo as captain but felt he was too unsure in that pen situation. Needs to carry himself with more surety

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  91. Good vice but don't think he cuts it as captain

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  92. A win is a win as they say. Spurs and Arsenal didn't do much better against them.

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  93. I bet Studge will be ribbing Hendo on monday. Hendo is clearly seen mouthing : F*cking blah blah. Im going with baby. "F*cking baby"

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  94. Yeah. Hopefully he can build it. I like him as captain but you need the others knowing your telling them.

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  95. It seems as if Sturridge was the designated taker if Henderson didn't take it, but Balo asked and Hendo gave him the ball. Sturridge overeacted a bit, it doesn't matter who takes it. Plus he always misses his penalties anyway.

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  96. He looked good and I am not a fan but come on bud lets not get overboard. He played well.

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  97. it looks like everyone just wants goals to be added to their name looking at that penalty situation..that what i like when gerrard is on the pitch..it looks like the whole liverpool is walking on the pitch with you and you just have to follow him
    gerrard will be missed

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  98. We are showing all the signs of a tired team. We have a big squad, we should use it.

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  99. It look like Balo took the ball as opposed to having it handed to him.


    Hendo took it in stride, but it sure didn't look like he had much control over the situation.

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  100. It's true. Just disappointed with the performance. We dwelled to long on the ball and lacked surgery. Henderson, I mean... Like I keep saying... Apart from his pressing, running, a few new passes and workrate doesn't bring much to the side.

    His free kicks are poor and ao are his corners. He did assist quite a few this season so that's good

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  101. The end did not look good, Sturridge looked pissed and so did Hendo, but at least Hendo celebrated with Balo, whereas Sturridge looked pissed as shit. Don't know what to make of it, but Sturridge was being a salty fellow

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  102. That looked like a plan B to me. We were more willing to go direct and get knockdowns. Interesting. Making plan A better?

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  103. He missed the free kick by about 6 inches.

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  104. we missed Lucas' influence more in the middle of the park in my opinion. Shields it and fires accurate passes to the creaters

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  105. I'm glad he nicked it odd Hendo. I don't trust Sturridge with penalties at all.

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  106. I expect some people will see a negative in who took the penalty.

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  107. Strikers want goals, they'll kiss and make up, Studge still knows he's the main man

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  108. i am talking about the leadership he brings..clearly missing in hendo..next captain?? i am not so sure

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  109. Not sure why Henderson was pissed off. If Gerrard is not playing, there shouldn't be any debate about the penalty taker, it has to be Balotelli. It could be that BR would have given some instruction regarding the penalty taker.
    .
    Jordan Ibe is incredible, best young player in the squad after Sterling. Followed by Coutnho, Moreno and Can.
    .
    Any update on Flanagan? love him too!!

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  110. He didn't tonight but I do think he has more qualities than that and shows them on a semi regular basis.

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  111. I've backed him all season. Never doubted him. He plays in a two. When he does that he plays well.

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  112. Apparently Hendo was supposed to take it and Balo shouldn't have been trying to take over. I just read Strurridge's lips and he said "take it off him". Balo souring a good performance there. Bitter sweet goal.

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  113. Hendo was designated to take the penno, but as Captain handed it to Ballo, what was Studge so annoyed about.

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  114. gerrard shouldnt be stirring it up.

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  115. Not the attitude to have though. If Hendo wants to take captain role he needs to sort that out and have a different mentality, not shake your head and roll your eyes like he did. Looks as if he doesn't treat Balo as a teammate

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  116. I honestly think Sturridge was p!ssed as Hendo was supposed to take it and Sturridge took it off him.

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  117. All sort of hypothetical nonsense! What if he missed? Who would have been confident in Henderson taking it? No way

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  118. Lovren is looking good too with 3 at the back and more steel in the midfield. Hope Can moves to midfield now. I am not buying into all the fuss about Can at the moment. He still has lot to prove and today he wasn't really that good.

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  119. studge was annoyed that hendo flapped it

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  120. He's got lovely hair though

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  121. I think Studge was pissed off that Henderson allowed Balotelli to take a penalty.

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  122. I just read that quote from ITV, also Gerard in studio not happy. Personally with Balo's record if Stevie not playing he should take if on pitch. All done now, we won

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  123. I think his last game wasn't much cop either but I really really think there is a great player there. In not too long.

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  124. Gerrard: 'Balotelli was bit a bit mischievous there'; 'proably showed a bit of disrespect to Henderson'; 'I don't like to see that type of squabbling, not always good for dressing room'. Stevie's being honest and it's really fun to watch.

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  125. Come on that was like Can's 100th game in a month, don't be so harsh.

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  126. any one would fancy balo ..and rodgers should give the responsibility to him only when gerrard is off

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  127. Ok. He was great.

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  128. He was on the pens for a reason. I trust Hendo from the spot.

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  129. Gerrard should be saying. "the situation will be dealt with inhouse"

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  130. Yep, Balotelli is the penalty specialist.

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  131. I liked the honesty. I know your a Balo fan but come on.

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  132. *Balo. But yeah, it wasn't til they showed the replays after the game that I seen it, clear as day Sturridge is gettin onto Balo for takin it off Hendo, he's not tryin to get it for himself

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  133. He should not be in a TV studio til he's retired

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  134. Take my id and password....and reply yourself with what you like. Or just accept opinions.

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  135. more than balo who has been nearly perfect from the spot

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  136. You do, I don't, we won! I'm pleased. Hendo doesn't ooze confidence.

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  137. Yeah same here. Clearly didn't like Balo doing that did he and he has said they are mates quite often too,

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  138. he retired 6 years ago judging by his performances. With the exception of last year.

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  139. This comment section is so confusing...first the JK spat above, then this, can't wait for what's below ;)

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  140. Don't have a clue what you're on about.

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  141. Sturridge didn't want to take it, just didn't like Balo doing what he did.

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  142. me too either, he just doesn't cut it for me. He lacks that edge to be a top top player.

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  143. He's the captain and has a role to play. Honesty is for priests. This is a company

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  144. Nice one Brendan, when asked who should of taken penalty he said Stevie G with a grin...

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  145. That is just inaccurate

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  146. I don't think Stevie should *ever* be in a TV studio

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  147. Honesty is for priests? OK. More faith than me clearly. He is on there to talk his mind and he did. Balo shouldn't have acted like that and it was being discussed. Was he supposed to say nothing> What would be the point on him being on?

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  148. For me, Balo should take all the free kicks and penalties. No brainer.

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  149. Sturridge really grinded my gears, instead of rejoicing in the goal he was sulking that his partner had scored. Totally wrong attitude. If they want Balotelli to be sucessful then he needs to be supported in situations like that. Anyway judging by both Hendo's and Sturridges performances i would not of trusted them with it anyhow.

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  150. I loved Peter Reid's answer. Perfect!

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  151. no 6 years with the excpetion of last year is entirely accurate

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  152. Henderson was the designated penalty taker out of the starting eleven but once Ball comes on its clear who should take it, he has only ever missed one and I only remember Hendo ever taking one in a shootout....Studge was not arguing for the ball by the way he was just telling Mario it should be hendo's ball (you can see him clearly mouthing "you should take the ball of him" to Henderson. Gerrard should keep it buttoned about this on the tube....Mario didn't exactly snatch the ball off Hendo....he begrudgingly offered it to him, so he obviously wasn't that confident....Mario was, it happens, storm in a teacup....at least it was until Gerrard started on about it.

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  153. He was supporting his English mate. Can't support both in such situations.

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  154. Exactly, I really do think Lallana is fitting as captain, even though he hasn't even spent a season here, you can't just shake your head as a captain. He seems like he'd really handle the situation well, but I wasn't happy near the end. Seems like Balo is being shunned by some teammates

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  155. Sturridge has defended Balo more than most. Apparently they have become good mate but wrong is wrong.

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  156. was he supposed to say nothing? what did the manager say?

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  157. Nonsense. English or not. Same team, same goal, same result.

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  158. He gave the right answer. Anything else and the media would have a field day with it.

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  159. Hendo didn't do much to stop him though... maybe some words, but it's not like Balo just ran in and sntached it. He clearly saw he was coming for the ball.


    But like Chirag said, even in his poor form, it has to be balo taking the PK's. Sturridge isn't that good at pks, Sterling doesn't have the finishing, and hendo isn't much better. Lallana and Cou were already off, and Ibe and Can don't have the squad status nor the personality to take responsibility currently.

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  160. Can you imagine watching Hendo step up to take it. Shiver

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  161. Yes. He was right.

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  162. True. But sulking like that is unecessary.

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  163. Sturridge was cheesed off about Balo not acknowledging Hendo's authority as captain. Balo is a maverick which Sturridge hates.

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  164. Stevie: what if he missed.
    Reid: he didnt!

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  165. I don't see why he should be bothered, the only thing he should be bothered about is whether or not the ball ends up in the back of the net.

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  166. Hendas the captain should achknowledge that the result is far more important than personal glory.

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  167. Love watching late night UK news on my football stream...those darn bloody Lee Rigby would-be copycats...

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  168. I like Hendo but I am really glad Balo stepped up

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  169. He handled it fine, the worst you say from him was a very slight shake of the head, barely noticeable except after a few TV replays. Gerrard said as much in the post match.

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  170. I think there is way too much fuss over this penalty situation on here....lads in dressing room have probably settled it and will move on...I feel an article about this will appear on this site soon...;)

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