11 Sep 2015

Liverpool Team vs. Man-Utd: £51m-duo out? Error-prone misfit to start? Rodgers complains about international break

In a press conference this week, Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal argued that Saturday's crunch clash with Liverpool is a 'must-win' game, and after being embarrassed by West Ham (at home) the same arguably applies for LFC. Unfortunately, the club's three best players will miss the game, which will make it harder to achieve that objective, but given United's patchy form this season, a win is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Pre-game news:

* Coutinho is suspended, which is a massive blow for the team.

* £25m-rated Henderson didn't train yesterday, which suggests he's a long-shot for the game.

* Daniel Sturridge is back in first-team training, and according to the Liverpool Echo, Rodgers will 'check' his fitness before deciding on whether to include him in the squad.

* Rodgers' update in his pre-match press conference today: "Sturridge returned to training but no timeline on when he will play in games. We'll see about Henderson/Lallana over next 24hrs."

* It looks like Rodgers will stick with Dejan Lovren for the United game. Today, he told reporters:

"In his first three games this season Dejan showed he has the quality and the consistency to perform well. He knows he made a mistake [against West Ham], but it was about the collective".

Unfortunately, it looks like Rodgers is getting his excuses in early. In his press conference today, he whined: "This game comes on back of international break so had virtually no time to work with players. Some only arrived back yesterday."

Manchester United are in the same boat, so it shouldn't even be an issue. Plus, isn't that what the *squad* is for? Rodgers has spent £300m in three years, so he should have enough quality players in the squad to freshen things up whenever necessary.

In my view, this is the approach Rodgers should take:

* Even if 'fit' Lallana, and Henderson should remain on the sidelines, with Hendo on the bench. There's no point rushing them back and exacerbating their injuries.

* Ditto Sturridge. He should not be considered for selection. There are plenty of players in the squad bursting to play, and rushing back injured players is a sign of no-confidence in the strength of the squad.

* Lucas should continue in midfield, and Firmino should slot into Coutinho's number-10 position.

* Right now, with an isolated striker, and zero width, Liverpool are easy to play against, so Rodgers needs to shake it up an little, and that means support up-front for Benteke, and some width/pace in the starting line-up.


As such, I'd go with the following line-up:

------------------ Mignolet
Clyne ------- Lovren --- Skrtel --- Moreno
------------------ Lucas
------------- Milner - Can
----------------- Firmino
----------- Ings ------- benteke

OR, a 4132:

------------------ Mignolet
Clyne ------- Lovren --- Skrtel --- Moreno
------------------- Lucas
------- Origi ---- Milner ---- Firmino
------------------- Ings
----------------- Benteke

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson believes that fans are in for a dull afternoon, and predicting a 1-1 draw, he told the BBC:

"This is a massive game for both teams but I cannot see it being a classic. I am expecting this to be a very tight game, and I am also expecting it to end up as another draw".

PREDICTION LEAGUE

After the 3-0 drubbing by West Ham, the league tables remain exactly the same (links at the top of the page). No one came close to predicting the correct result, but I can't see the same thing happening for this game. You have until 4.30pm Saturday (GMT) to post your predictions!

My prediction: 1-1

Author: Jaimie K



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