21 Feb 2013

LFC vs. Zenit: Predicted XI - BR to go defensive? Midfielder up-front?

After a 2-0 first-leg defeat in Russia, Liverpool have a Europa League mountain to climb tonight in the second-leg clash with Zenit St. Petersburg at Anfield. Can the Reds pull off a much-needed victory?

This is what's known for definite about the team so far:

* Daniel Sturridge and Philip Coutinho are both cup-tied for the game.
* Martin Skrtel is injured and 'very unlikely' to feature.
* Fabio Borini is out for 'six to eight weeks'
* No other injuries/suspension that impact on the squad.

I would go for the following team:

Reina, Johnson, Enrique, Carragher, Agger, Gerrard, Henderson, Downing, Lucas, Sterling, Suarez

----------------- Reina

Johnson --- Carra ----- Agger --- Enrique

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

---------- Gerrard -- Henderson

Downing ------------------------ Sterling

--------------- Suarez

The team basically picks itself, but you never know with Brendan Rodgers. If he errs on the side of defensive caution, we could see the following:

----------------- Reina

Wisdom --- Carra ----- Agger --- Johnson

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

---------- Gerrard -- Allen

Downing ------------------------ Enrique

--------------- Suarez

Allen and Lucas played together in the first leg, and it wasn't a good idea. We could also see Jonjo Shelvey played up front, with Suarez out wide. Hopefully this won't happen. Aces in their places is (IMO) the way forward.

The odds on Liverpool overturning the deficit seem slim. It's 22 years since the club last overturned a 2-0 first-leg defeat to emerge victorious, but Reds legend Jan Molby believes it's possible. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"An early goal would be perfect tonight but we don't need to throw the kitchen sink at them too early. When you look at it as only needing to score once every 45 minutes to force extra time it certainly looks possible. There was encouragement in the first leg to believe Liverpool will create a lot of chances and Zenit did look vulnerable at the back."

Liverpool have to be careful not to underestimate Zenit. Remember, they hadn't played a competitive game for TWO MONTHS before putting the Reds to the sword last week, and although the game is at Anfield, that doesn't mean it's going to be any easier.

Additionally, as we've seen recently, Luis Suarez is not as effective without Daniel Sturridge in the team, and if the Uruguayan doesn't play well, then outside of Steven Gerrard, there's no one else in the squad who scores goals regularly.

My prediction: 3-1 to LFC

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1 comment:

  1. Disappointed, but if we are going down, that's what I want to see from LFC! Absolutely murdered them, pity about Carra, but we'd be through if Shelvey could hit the target from 6 yards when running onto the ball in a straight line... Couldn't believe it when he not only put it near post, but put it wide!

    If we play like that for the last 11 games we should end up 5th or 6th, not too far away from the CL spots, though sadly we lost 1 or 2 games too many recently to get 4th.

    Not sure Hendo for Shelvey was very clever; he kept giving free kicks away and had no composure, what we needed was a cool head

    Allen did better though, still some way from where we need to be , but with the right additions, who knows?