15 Dec 2013

Possible LFC XI vs. Spurs: 5 big decisions for BR; Reds on brink of disaster...?

After victories for Chelsea, Man City and Everton yesterday, Liverpool are now in fifth place in the Premier League, and with further away games to come against both Chelsea and City - who are seemingly invincible at home - a win for the Reds against Spurs this afternoon is imperative if the club is to maintain over the Christmas period its position in the top four.

On the injury front:

* Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, and Jose Enrique are all out.

* BR confirmed on Friday that Jordan Henderson is 'fine' and should be available for today's game.

After their 6-0 hammering by Man City, Spurs are in the midst of a resurgence at the moment:

* Unbeaten in the last five games.
* Won four of the last five.
* Soldado grabbed a midweek hat-trick, so he'll be confident.
* Eriksen made his return from injury this week.

Make no mistake, this is going to be a tough game for Liverpool, and defeat today could spark a disastrous Premier League freefall for the Reds over Christmas. Away victories at Chelsea and Man City are even more difficult to achieve, so a positive result today is essential.

With three key injuries, the Liverpool team pretty much picks itself, but as I see it, Rodgers has several important decisions to make:

* Stick with 433, or switch 352/4132
* Keep the Sakho/Skrtel partnership, or bring back Agger?
* Keep Sterling in the starting line-up?
* Keep Flanagan at left back?
* Who will captain the Reds?


Spurs usually play 433 (or variations thereof), so I see no logical sense in reverting to 352. 433 is working fine for Liverpool at the moment; the players are comfortable with it, and going into such a big game, the Reds should (IMO) stick with the formation they know best. For example, Flanagan has rarely (if ever) played in that formation for the Reds, so that could cause an element of uncertainty.

Additionally, it wouldn't work anyway as one of the Reds central midfielders would have to miss out in order to accommodate Coutinho in the number 10 role, and with tough midfielders like Sandro, Dembele and Paulinho in Spurs' squad, I can't see Rodgers leaving out Henderson, Allen or Lucas. Plus, who would play alongside Suarez? Aspas hasn't started a game since his injury, and Rodgers doesn't seem to trust him, so to throw him in against Spurs where he's not match-fit would be a mistake.

Central defence

Skrtel and Sakho put great performances last week, and only a freak own-goal meant LFC didn't keep a clean sheet. There's no reason to change that partnership this week. Agger may be vice-captain, but if he has to sit this one out, then so be it. Rodgers has complained recently about being 'unable' to field a settled back four; well, he has a chance to do that now, and changing things around after a 4-1 victory would constitute needless tinkering.


Sterling had a good game against West Ham, and was unlucky to be subbed off, and although I think he deserves to start today's game, I have a feeling Rodgers will go for Victor Moses, mainly due to his greater experience against the better teams in the league. Since arriving at the club, Moses' creative output is pitiful (1 goal/no assists all season), so if the nigerian gets the nod, he really needs to produce at least a goal or an assist, or face another lengthy spell on the bench.


Flanagan hasn't done much wrong over the last few weeks, so he'll probably keep his place in the team. There's always an outside chance that Daniel Agger may come in at left back, especially against top opposition, and I personally wouldn't have a problem with that. The extra experience in a game like this may come in handy, though as we've seen, Agger is prone to mistakes, especially during aerial duels in the six-yard box.


On Monday, I argued that Rodgers spring a surprise and promote Luis Suarez to LFC captain, and judging by his comments on Friday, it appears that he's actively considering it. Rodgers told reporters:

"We shall see who will be captain. Would Luis be ready? 100%, absolutely. We will have to wait and see what my decision is at White Hart Lane. You'll see then."

If Daniel Agger starts, the he will almost definitely captain the team. I can't see any scenario where the Dane starts and is ignored for another player. That would be a massive, very public snub, and would create negative publicity for the player and the club. If, however, he doesn't start, then it's a different story. Given all of the above, I expect Rodgers to go with the following line-up:

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

Johnson --- Skrtel -- Sakho ----- Flanagan

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

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

---- Moses ------------- Coutinho

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

My preferred line-up:

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

Johnson --- Skrtel -- Sakho ----- Agger

----------- Lucas -- Hendo

--------------- Allen

-- Sterling ------------- Coutinho

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

* Allen playing further forward than Henderson, whose physical presence and pressing skills will be needed closer to goal.

* Sterling/Coutinho in the same team may be a little lightweight against Spurs, but they've both played well in recent weeks, and Sterling brings pace to the side.

Whatever way you look at it, take Suarez out and there is a severe lack of goals and assists in this team. Henderson hasn't scored in 15 games, and has only one assist in that period; Moses, Lucas and Allen have zero assists between them, and just one goal, and even Coutinho is not as prolific as creator this season. The Reds have been banging in the goals recently, but it may be more difficult against superior opposition today, and if Spurs follow the Hull template and isolate Suarez, then it could be a frustrating afternoon for the Reds.

Predicting a 2-0 victory for Spurs (!), Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson argued that AVB's team has 'come good' after the 6-0 mauling at the Etihad, adding:

"I can see them making it three in a row with a win at White Hart Lane. Liverpool have been very good at despatching teams at home but they have been inconsistent and dropped points away from Anfield. For me, you cannot under-estimate the impact that the loss Gerrard will have on them"

Reds Hero Jan Molby took a slightly more optimistic view. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"White Hart Lane has been a difficult place for Liverpool in recent years. Spurs have been blessed with a lot of flair and pace with the likes of Bale and Modric, but they aren’t the team they were in the past three years. They don’t have that quality of player any more. I’m not convinced about them".

Henderson, Allen and Moses (if he plays) really have to step up today, and I personally want to see specific creative contributions from at least of TWO of those players.

My prediction: 2-2



  1. If TOT gets a RED card then 3-2 > LFC 4 the win! Allen has to be the surprise package here and hammer in assists and goals as TOT will be focussed on Coutinho/Suarez. Hendo as captain for me, plus he needs to spring up big time too.....!

  2. 1. Isn't it possible that the absence of stevie G will release the pressure on the midfield, particularly Allen?
    2. isn't there any chance to see Luis Alberto in the midfield today?

  3. I dnt see alberto starting such u big game for us..however maybe an impact of the bench if all else fails

  4. This is an away game and I'd guess we'll see a very compact and defensively organised Liverpool side. Rely on Coutinho, Suarez and Sterling to provide something on the break while Hendo and Lucas will need to do a mountain of work in midfield to shut down Spurs. I wouldn't expect a very open game at all, Rodgers knows what he's up against and it's all going to come down to how many moments of brilliance we can get out of the front three. I don't see either team scoring two goals, it'll be a tight 1 goal game either way.

  5. Just defend PROPERLY and let the forwards do what they do, If we defend well we will win the game......................over to BR......PLEASE PICK THE RIGHT TEAM!!!!

  6. I think he will pick Sterling! (70%) and very good that he does. Lately BR raved about Sterling's ball rescuing and pressure putting on opposition players. Moses has done nothing to earn a start and if BR chooses him then he has lost me very quickly in the game.

    Your preferred line up is good! I don't Agger or Flanno though. I am a huge fan of Agger nevermind anything. If he doesn't play i think Johnson is the right captain! for all kind's of reasons. Two main ones is that Suarez can be too moody and he has all the attention anyway. Second Johnson will have to put up his game which is very influential. He's mature also at a right way you can't explain it.

    Oh ya, Free Fall is my prediction.
    Again only 20% that there want be one as such; 10% that our midfield over rises. 10% that Rodgers makes a series of games managing masterpiece.

  7. -----------------------Mignolet


    Agger for his interceptions in front of back four. Also for his reading of the game and set pieces.
    Toure cos I like him.

    Lucas alone against the Spurs midfield is asking too much as Lucas is not as mobile as we would like. Have Allen and Henderson pack the midfield. Flano and Johnson to provide the width and options out wide. Henderson's legs needed to press from the front of midfield and let Lucas and Allen form the shield with Agger the last man.

    Let Coutinho and Suarez roam free, they can play across the front, left to right.

  8. You gotta play strong pressure and then if they squeeze comfortable possession - then defend in a main organized 4-3 defense line. This are the right (main simple guides) of the right defense tactic against Spurs.
    So far this season we never defended well this way, never organized that way.

    (maybe maybe for periods in the first 3 matches of the season but still it was much more messy).
    I predict a free fall.

  9. i actually expect us to take the points today. goals by Suarez and Suarez.

  10. JK.....agree with your preferred line up, Agger is more than capable of playing at LB. Looks good on paper, lets see hey. MUST WIN GAME!!
    May get a result against chelsea as they not all that, but city are awesome right now.

  11. Maybe with 3 midfielders with young legs, we can press them which we don't do anymore. Does Gerrard stop us pressing?, I'm not sure about that?

  12. I agree, but I think there can still be goals. Thinking back to last season we had Arsenal and City away after one another (I think) and Rodgers set his team up quite well. Both of those fixtures produced goals and Rodgers tried to be more conservative against Everton this season and that game produced six goals.

  13. So far this season:

    Draw with Swansea - Result of bad bad coaching.

    Lost to Southampton - Terrible coaching.

    Draw with Newcastle - Bad coaching and bad day for players.

    Lost to Arsenal - Not great coaching at all and they were ridiculously good.

    Draw with Everton - Because of Joe Allen, Moses, Coutinho and maybe a few more that i forgot.

    Lost to Hull - Arrogance and taking things for granted. But hey looking above it looks like we had nothing to be arrogant about.

    Maybe i forgot some? Ya we were bad at set pieces defending and midfield was bad many times. THE MANAGERS FAULT ONLY. HE DIDN'T FIX HIS MISTAKES AND HE KNOWS IT!

    Big test is what I'm saying. What can we bring to the table today? I expect the same determination as for the first 3 games when we weren't arrogant, and none of the faults mentioned above.

  14. Can't see anything at this point. Rodgers hadn't built us right to this point so far.

  15. Imagine if we had two of em!

  16. terrible.khhhhhh.ohman.1:36 pm, December 15, 2013


    Not the best one but my favorite with injuries.

  17. right? i can't see a chance since the injury in which our midfield preforms with confident. But hey, he won't start Alberto cause is not experienced enough (the only one with true composure).
    This is exactly how Rodgers screwed us. no depth on him.

  18. Sakho in midfield might be an option, we could do with a physical presence there and he's not bad on the ball, what you think?

  19. If we dont get seven points from these four games I fear top four will be gone again, a must win today and cardiff then take a point at chelsea, I guess everyone agrees at city we have no chance, if we lose today that will be a massive blow as were fifth right now, if we had gerrard and sturridge my hopes would of been higher but without them I just cant see us winning, suarez alone will be difficult but ill have a hope until we dont concede in the game, soon as well do game will be over. We have a massive chance for top 4 this season and I strongly believe if we dont get it this year, we wont get it for another 5 or 6 years maybe more, so stop that white hart lane hoodoo today, these are the games you win the CL place.

  20. My team mignolet johnson skrtel sakho flano hendo lucas moses sterling coutinho suarez, but I know br will play allen instead of moses.

  21. If we maintain the 2ppg standard until the end of the season and still miss out on the Champions League places, we can't really be too upset imo - obviously it would be best to take points from those teams aiming for the same targets though, to keep them from achieving that point total, starting with picking up at least a point at WHL today.

    City, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea all clearly have better squads than us. We need more players to step up along with Suarez to help overcome those deficiencies (as well as some luck with injuries).

  22. Overall I agree with the expected line-up anyway, although I would prefer Agger at left-back to Flanagan, or to switch Johnson onto the left and bring Kelly on the right.

    I'm just nowhere near as impressed with Flanagan as everybody else is.

  23. I hope all the negative posters on here are hanging their heads in shame right now!
    Gentlemen, we have just witnessed the best performance from a Liverpool side since we beat Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield.
    Maybe now you lot will pick your chins up and put the razor blades and noises away.
    Beat Cardiff on Saturday, top of the league!

  24. Mmmm.....your comments look a bit absurd now. Any chance you will give BR some credit for this performance? There have been a couple of disappointing performances (Hull, Arsenal) but this is still an improving team and BR has got the players motivated and improving.

  25. So very happy to be wrong. Well predicted Pete, totally not what I expected at all. Killer result for Spurs, they've got some real problems.

  26. I expected goals but not five of them for us! Awesome result. Bad result for them but they will be okay. To be honest, I'm surprised with the team they pick for Premier League games. Lamela, Townsend, Holtby, even Defoe on the bench.

    On another day, Soldado could of easily bagged one of those headers in the box and the shot from Holtby that went wide would of gone in as Mignolet was scrambling. The sending off too, was 50/50. I think we still would of won the game if Spurs had more luck but they were unlucky today as we were just on fire.