9 Nov 2013

LFC predicted line-up vs. Fulham: BR to drop THREE players? Surprise in midfield?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has a full-strength squad available for this afternoon's Premier League game with Fulham, and if the Reds have serious ambitions of finishing in the top four, then nothing short of three points is acceptable.

Steven Gerrard picked up a knock against Arsenal last weekend, but it appears that he is also fit, though perhaps now is the right time to give the skipper a rest?

Brendan Rodgers admitted this week that Gerrard played the last half hour of the Arsenal game carrying an injury.

Quite why he didn't take Gerrard off is anyone's guess, but as we've seen countless times in the past, the manager repeatedly utilises injured players, usually to the detriment of the team.

Why does Gerrard have to play every single game? With a full-strength squad, and comparatively poor opposition, surely the team can manage without him for at least 45 minutes? If not, what does that say about the overall strength of the squad? I hate the idea that Gerrard *has* to play because he's so integral to the team, and the players seemingly can't survive without him. It's just not true, and his performances this season categorically prove that.

As such, Gerrard should be rested for today's game (IMO), and if Rodgers has any sense, he should learn from his mistake against Southampton. Prior to that match, Daniel Agger picked up a knock, but he declared himself fit, and Rodgers let him play. What happened? He went off injured, Liverpool lost the game, and post-match, the Dane admitted he shouldn't have played.

With any luck, Rodgers will scrap the 352 formation, but I can't see him doing that, which means we'll probably see the following line-up:

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

------- Toure -------- Skrtel -------- Agger

Johnson ------------------------------------ Enrique

---------------- Lucas ---- Gerrard

-------------------- Coutinho

--------------- Suarez ---- Sturridge

Coutinho, Johnson and Enrique haven't played together in a 352 yet, so Rodgers will probably want to see how his first-choice midfield/attack performs together. I also expect to see Daniel Agger brought back into the side, though it's probably wishful thinking to suggest that Sakho will be the one to make way. I'd personally prefer to see one of the following line-ups:

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

Johnson ------ Skrtel ----- Agger -------- Enrique

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

--------- Hendo --- Coutinho ---- Moses

------------ Suarez ------- Sturridge

* Johnson will provide width on the right, so Hendo won't have to stay wide all the time. He can operate further infield, which is his favoured position anyway.

* Good width on the left with Moses and Enrique.

* This formation still allows Suarez and Sturridge to play together. Another option:

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

Johnson ------ Skrtel ----- Agger -------- Enrique

---------------- Hendo --- Allen

--------- Moses --- Coutinho ---- Suarez

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

* Gerrard and Lucas on the bench to come on if needed.
* Sakho and Toure rested.

Predicting a 3-0 win for Liverpool, Anfield legend Mark Lawrenson observed:

"Jol's side have lost their last three games in the Premier League and Capital One Cup, and, while it [352] did not work against Arsenal, it will work against the Cottagers. The Reds can win on Saturday with three at the back"

352 will work against inferior teams, but when the Reds come up against any team with quality attacking players, it fails (as it did against Southampton, Newcastle and Arsenal).

I fully expect Liverpool to hammer Fulham today, probably with a similar scoreline to the West Brom game, but if that happens, it's not (IMO) vindication of the 352 system. The Reds should be beating the likes of Fulham irrespective of what formation is used. The crunch will come over the next couple of months, with lots of big league games against quality opposition.



  1. Why do we persist with 3 centre backs? For the odd game when we're up against two top strikers (ie rooney and RVP), but most teams play one up top these days, so 2 is enough. I agree with resting gerrard every now and then and I don't think Lucas needs to play every game - he doesn't merit the certain starter status he seems to have. I find the 3rd line up very exciting and the right choice against a struggling fulham side. I'm looking forward to us bouncing back strongly after last weeks disappointment - 4-0 to the redmen,

  2. I believe in your first formation Jaimie, the one with Lucas holding midfielder by himself, I believe it should only take 1 defensive midfielder to protect the back four, and the further midfielders will obviously help when the teams not in possession, similar to bayerns formation. i'd like to see today
    its basically the exact same as your formation Jaimie, but I really like Jordon ibe. I think despite his age, he has natural ability, power, pace, shooting power, both footed. and on our left I think if he began to gel with suarez and co he could be truly effective. especially on a break. in a home game where we should have the mentality that even with a quality 17yr old on the pitch we still should win, I think BR should start Ibe. we need to bring thi guy in particular into the squad somehow.
    In January, I think Liverpool need to push hard for the DM/CM position, RW position and LW/ST position. i'd buy Momo Diame (£8M), Alessio Cerci (£12M) and Stefan El-Shaarawy (£25M-marquee signing). Diame is athletic, versatile, paly his role well and gets goals/assists. he is PL experienced. Alessio Cerci has been lighting up the Serie A the past 2 seasons but goes slightly unnoticed. still at Torino, but literally plays exactly messi. gets goals and assists, very quick and intelligent and I think he can be a great Right Winger for Liverpool. El-Shaarawy should be our marquee signing. hes already proven quality, and hes still only young. if we get him now, we'll probly get 80 back for him in a few years. he'll be our marquee signing. then we can look like this
    ----------------Stefan El-Shaarawy
    now that looks a very deadly team

  3. there is no reason why to keep playing 352 any longer, and I think either gerrard or lucas should be dropped today,let them learn a lesson, maybe gerrard Id say because of the friendiles with england he has might sound harsh and shocking but sooner or later we will have to live the life without him, the other thing I hope is not to see cissokho again, surely one of the biggest shocks lfc signed over the years, the team I hope to see: mignolet johnson agger skrtel enrique lucas hendo moses coutinho and SaS.( we'd hardly see that)

  4. I would drop both Lucas and Gerrard for this match. This would be a good time to try a new look midfield

    Johnson Toure Agger Enrique
    Henderson Allen Alberto
    Sturridge Suarez

    Suarez and Sturridge still play up top, Coutinho plays in his best position and there is mobility in midfield.

  5. I think of all the players, Lucas has the most to prove his no 1 status is warranted. he has been nowhere near his pre injury form since his return, and was found out to be too often in no man's land where he couldn't break up attacks or tackle the man on the ball or runners from midfield.
    A speedy return to form is required, otherwise he needs to be rested

  6. It's dangerous IMO to get stuck in a pattern and not being able to change tactics based on who LFC play against, and most certainly need to rest players when they are up against weak, struggling, teams. If the manager doesn't feel that's an option I'd say that would mean there's players in the squad who sould have been replaced during the last transfer-window

  7. the first formation should be played all the time, atleast away, the only reason he plays 3 at the back is because he screwed up and bought to many CBs.
    Gerrard should definately be dropped/rested, henderson and gerrard shouldnt be playing in the same team anyway as they are both all round midfielders IMO, the whole midfield 3 of Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson isnt top four quality.

    With the injuries i totally agree, there was no need for agger to play when he has so much back up and Rodgers deservedly paid the price.

  8. It will be interesting to see how Coutinho, Suarez and Sturridge feature in the same team. From what I remember last season it didn't really click with Sturridge been left on the bench until the Suarez bite. Then that was when Sturridge and Coutinho started to form a connection. I would like to see how Coutinho plays in the hole with Allen and Agger getting some game time too. It's a good time to rest stevie G. It's a tough one with him I would like to see 30 mins of the real Gerrard than 90 mins of the Gerrard I had seen this season I remember a game vs Newcastle at the of 2011 when he came of the bench and he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch.

  9. 4 at the back at least.

  10. No, Sturridge has been a regular starter ever since he arrived at the club

  11. not in the games before Suarez got banned.

  12. yes he was - Sturridge only missed out when he was picking up those injuries last season, rather than for any tactical reason

  13. I think there was more to it than just injuries. Carra has mentioned it few times this season about Rodgers trying different formations to get the best out of the three, in particular the spurs game where we got battered despite winning the game. I'm not saying he was dropped but it was more of a case like Agger that there wasn't a place for him straight back into the team after injury until Suarez was out.