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14 Feb 2015

Anfield Blow: £26m star ruled out; huge decision for BR; Surprise inclusion for Sinclair

It's FA Cup time again, and Liverpool must beat in-form Crystal Palace for a place in the quarter-finals of the competition. Palace beat a poor LFC side 3-1 in November, but that defeat turned out to be a massive turning point, and since then, the Reds have gone from strength-to-strength, which bodes well for today's game.

Team news:

* Gerrard, Lucas, and £26m-rated Sterling are all out with injury.

* Jordon Ibe is cup-tied.

Given recent performances, the team basically picks itself, but Rodgers has one big decision to make: Should Balotelli start after scoring his the winning goal against Spurs?

For me, the answer is unequivocally YES:

* Dropping a striker after scoring is (IMO) the apex of poor man-management. The primary role of a striker it to SCORE GOALS, and once the momentum starts to build, the sky is often the limit (Harry Kane, anyone).

* All season, Rodgers (and fans) have bemoaned Balotelli's failure to score, so it's counter-productive, illogical, and demotivating to drop him after scoring such an important goal.

* Balotelli strikes me as the type of player who will not take kindly to being dropped after scoring a vital goal, and that could lead to further motivation problems in the future.

Balotelli did his job, and his goal puts Liverpool one step closer to achieving the season's main goal: Champions League qualification. As such, he deserves to be rewarded with a start against Palace.

Of course, there's a problem: if Sturridge starts the game, how does Balotelli fit-in without Rodgers changing the 343 formation? Right now, both Coutinho and Lallana are better options than the Italian in the two number 10 role, but with Sterling, the opportunity is there to play Balotelli:

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

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

Markovic ---- Hendo ----- Allen ----- Moreno

---------- Coutinho -- Balotelli

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

* If Allen doesn't play, then the only other option is to disrupt the defensive unit and move Can into the middle. That then means Dejan Lovren comes back into the reckoning, and Palace could be an ideal game his redemption.

* Kolo Toure is also another option to take Can's place in defence.

* Lallana is also another option behind Sturridge.

* Glen Johnson may be preferred to Markovic at right wingback.

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

"Liverpool have pace, youth, lots of different attacking options and a nice balance to their side. I think their FA Cup run is going to continue".

In 1990, an Alan Pardew-led Crystal Palace team played Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final, and the Reds ended up losing 4-3. That game signalled the beginning of the end for Kenny Dalglish's first managerial reign at Anfield, so let's hope history doesn't repeat itself (!)

I have to admit, I have a bad feeling about this game. It's an away came in the cauldron of Selhurst Park, and Palace will be bang up for it...

My prediction: 1-1



  1. Kolo Toure is not back until Monday after a weeks holiday, I would play Jerome Sinclair who is on fire (21 goals) this season, as Ibe and Sterling are out. BR will play Joe Allen with Hendo..................this is not a priority for Liverpool so put Sinclair in!!!.

  2. Front 3 of Balotelli, Sturridge and Sinclair!!!...................quality!!!

  3. I'd go with Can longside hendo in order to get balo up top, Lovren got to step up soon and the three might suit him better...Can's energy will help screen the back three. Put a couple of youngsters o bench alongside Lambert and Lallana,


    Lovren Skrtel Sakho

    Marko Hendo Can Moreno


    Studge Balo

  4. I remember a few weeks back when one of the defence was injured during the game and I felt sure that Lovren would come on, only for Johnson to come on in the right side of the back 3, so I wouldn't be surprised (and providing Johnson plays solidly, quite excited to see Can next to Hendo in the middle) if we started like this:


  5. I think Sinclair might well make bench along...could come on for Studge late on.

  6. Oh dear, Balotelli scores a goal that Stevie Wonder would have scored and all is fine. Ridiculous reaction. This player should not be at the club. He seems to appeal to misguided romantics who also believe the world is against them. Hopefully he is on the bench today and also the editor of this site keeps up his awful record of predicting scores for LFC games

  7. Could go with that if he decides to rest Studge and have him as sub, not sure he'll start Johnson. You could play Lovren, shift Johnson to Marko position and play Marko higher up alongside Coutinho. Good we have lots of options with our squad. Its a cup game as long, think we should go for it, everyone wants to see Can in middle from the start soon as possible.

  8. Jaimie you're predictions are quite funny. Whenever LFC is playing a medicore PL team you have a bad feeling and against a better team 'you just can't see LFC winning' . Not a good mentality - we are Liverpool and were going to win this damn cup for Stevie!

  9. Do you really trust Balo to bust a gut for 90 mins? thats why he doesn't start.

  10. I'm not a believer in this notion that if you score you must play the next game. I'm very pleased that he managed to finally score. However, it's not nearly enough to jump the queue. Lallana is in much better form and is a more appropriate replacement for Sterling/Gerrard next to Couthino while keeping the same formation that has served them well for a couple of months.

    The bigger decision is who to replace Lucas with. I'd reluctantly tamper with the back 3 by moving Can into midfield and bringing in Lovren. My theory is that Liverpool's best team may eventually include an in form Lovren at the back and Can in midfield. Liverpool's best team doesn't include Allen, although I do feel that he is over criticised. Regardless, Balotelli doesn't start for me.

  11. Do you EVER predict wins anymore? You always go for a draw.

  12. I would start Balo instated of Sturridge nit with him. I am not buying yhe "he can't play lone striker " as he has played that position before and it's the way we need him to play. He learns it or doesn't play. I don't want Sturridge starting. I don't think he should play ninety and I think he could be more effective later on. Lallana should start for similar reasons Jaimie stated about Balotelli. He came on and set up the winner. He deserves a place.

  13. Come on you Redmen!!

  14. Nicolas Chamberlain11:35 am, February 14, 2015

    You really can't play with Balotelli on the LW or RW position.
    His pressing is way below what is needed on that position.
    You need players who are constantly pressing, switching and asking for a short pass.
    We could play 4-1-2-1-2 with Can holding our midfield, Coutinho as a CAM, Lallana on LM and Henderson on RM.

  15. Coutinho in behind Sturridge and Balotelli, might as well see if there is any signs of a partnership. IMO it's more important for Studge to get a goal asap, the last thing we need is the potential for media headlines along the line of "another mis-firing Liverpool striker"

  16. I want Can in midfield for this match.Dejan Lovren can continue to build his confidence at the back.
    Emre Can's technical qualities are exceptional for a player of his size.Very good close control and skill.Positive powerful runs.Calm under pressure and versatile.
    His got the ability to unlock defences with accurate passes too.The perfectly timed and weighted chip pass Raheem Sterling converted against Bolton was outstanding.

  17. I would like that. If we are comfortable bring on Sinclair if we need a gaol Brington Sturridge.

  18. Don't when Jaimie says we will draw we win. Let him work his magic.

  19. Agree with all that

  20. Agree , No time to stuff around feeling sorry for Balotelli ,

    Play 3-4-3 with Coutinho , Lallana and Sturridge .up front .

  21. So Apparently Mignolet spoke to Steve Peters whilst out of the team. One of many who helped him ragain some form. Could it be that taking him out of the limelight, getting him extra coaching and have him talk to Dr Steve was good man management?

  22. Ideal time to bring Lovern in and move Can into Gerrard's place

  23. I think many things have helped Simon Mignolet regain decent form.
    The formation switch which doesn't leave us exposed as much.Having a better protective unit in front of our centre backs, helps our defenders from looking shaky.Which in turn gives the keeper better security.
    The team structure as a whole looks to be on better foundations and most are playing with high levels of confidence.When everyone around you is doing their jobs to a good standard, I think that can help others perform better.Especially the link with centre backs and GK.
    I think you're spot on.Taking Mignolet out of limelight was good management.We also saw how well that worked at Man City with Joe Hart.I'm sure a few sessions with Steve Peters helped too.

  24. Scoring a goal doesn't mean you have to start the next game. If it's clear that there are strikers that are far better than you at scoring and making the team function well then they should play instead of you. Success of the team is what counts.
    You'll get other chances in the future that you'll need to take to prove your worth and try and move up the pecking order. For now, stay on the bench.

  25. Agree with you, but in this case I would start Mario

  26. 1 swallow does not make a summer !!

  27. Bob where are you?

  28. Apparently Migs has credited his girlfriend with his currrent form too, after a long chat. I think we can only assume that she warned him that if the opposition score, he won' t be.

  29. And if he won't come for crosses,,,,,,

  30. i hope toure and ibe get a start today, probably aspas too

  31. A valuable lesson. Once you start to come you have to be committed, or spillage will undoubtedly follow.

  32. Back to the swallow again ....

  33. what 8-) didn't know that hhaha

  34. I read the article. Apparently she said "are you over thinking things Simon?" Then the next day the coaching staff said the same thing which made him think about not thinking so much. Then he spent some time with Steve who helped him be more assertive when coming for crosses. So he was told to be more assertive in the box by staff, helped to do it by Steve . But his bird was the sage, who saw what millions of others could see.

  35. Yeah all of that but in my opinion he has been better at commanding his box than any other time at LFC. That is something he said he worked with Steve about.

  36. This bird was it a Jay?

  37. Meant hid bird but yeah I should be more respectful. My scousness takes over sometimes.

  38. His not hid. Phone is a pr1ck.

  39. I'm really not that PC. If women insist on treating me like a sex object all the time calling them birds sometimes does not seem so bad