7 Dec 2013

Predicted LFC XI vs. WH: 5 big issues for BR to fix; DROP £20m star...?

Ex-Reds Stewart Downing and Joe Cole return to Anfield this afternoon for West Ham's Premier League game with Liverpool, and with the Reds in joint fourth place with Everton right now, three points is a must to maintain the fight for a top four place.

Luis Suarez grabbed four goals at Against Norwich during the week, but I doubt the Hammers' defence will be as charitable, and I wouldn't be surprised if Sam Allardyce employs a tactical plan specifically designed to contain the Uruguayan.

After all, it's fair to say that if you stop Suarez, you stop Liverpool, and Hull City proved that last weekend, a game which Allardyce has probably studied closely all week. On the injury front:

* Enrique, Coates and Sturridge definitely out.
* Toure returned to training during the week, so should be fit for the sub's bench.

As I see it, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodger has five major issues to consider today:

* Should Daniel Agger be dropped?
* Is it time for Mamadou Sakho to be recalled?
* Should Raheem Sterling retain his place?
* Will Lucas be recalled, or will should Allen keep his place?
* What part will Aspas/Alberto play in the game?


The Dane put in another shaky defensive display against Norwich during the week. The footballing side of his game is excellent, but when it comes to rough and tumble defending - specifically one-on-one-aerial challenges - Agger is a liability. He was beaten in the air several times against Norwich, and the Canaries' goal came as a direct result of his lack of strength in a vital aerial duel. In short, Agger is no longer reliable (from a defensive standpoint)


The French defender has been an unused substitute for FOUR games in a row now, and hasn't kicked a ball for the Reds since November 2nd. If Sakho is ignored again today, then serious questions need to be asked about his Rodgers' judgement in the transfer market. Sakho should replace Agger today, but the reality is, the manager is damned either way. Agger will be upset if he's dropped; Sakho will be unhappy if he's benched for fifth game in a row. I have little sympathy for Rodgers' though; he created this problem himself with (arguably) poor transfer planning.


Despite scoring a goal on Wednesday, Sterling didn't offer much else during the game. However, I steadfastly believe that when an attacking player scores a goal, he should automatically start the next game. Scoring a goal is a massive confidence boost, and confident players perform better. Dropping a player after scoring is (IMO) the height of man-management negligence. It makes no sense: why curtail a player's momentum, and damage the confidence gained from scoring the goal?


Liverpool didn't miss Lucas against Norwich, and Joe Allen did a creditable job, so why change things? Why does Lucas deserve to come straight back into the team? Allen did his job well, and the only reason LFC conceded a goal is because Agger can't defend aerial balls. The principle of keeping a winning team is a good one, and - Agger aside - it will make sense if Rodgers sticks with the same players that beat Norwich.

Having said that...


Rodgers recently challenge Aspas and Alberto to help assuage the impact of Daniel Sturridge's injury absence, but he left the Spanish duo on the bench for the Norwich game, and then added insult to injury by bringing Aspas on in the 92nd minute (!) It would be great to see how Aspas performs playing up-front alongside Suarez, and hopefully hell get to play some part in today's game in that position.

Taking everything into consideration, I expect Rodgers to either go with the same team he selected on Wednesday (sans Agger), or select the following team:

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

Johnson --- Skrtel -- Agger --- Flanagan

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

-------- Gerrard ----- Hendo

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

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

I would prefer to see the following staring XI:

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

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

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

-------- Gerrard ----- Alberto

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

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

* Henderson has 1 goal/1 assist in SIXTEEN games this season, and he hasn't scored since August. Why does he continually deserve to start? His end product is extremely poor, and if Lucas can be dropped, so can Henderson.

* Having Alberto and Sterling in the same team may make LFC's midfield a little lightweight, so Lucas may be a better idea that Allen in that particular line-up. Whoever starts in central midfield, Alberto surely deserves a chance from the start, and an home game against a struggling West Ham side represents a great opportunity for him.

* Agger is an option at left-back, but after playing Sakho there (and later admitting it was a mistake), Rodgers is probably loathe to play Agger in that position.

Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson is confident that the Reds will 'beat West Ham easily', and predicting a 2-0 victory, he told the BBC:

"Liverpool have easily despatched teams from the bottom half of the table, and I cannot see Saturday being any different. It could be over quite quickly too: The Reds' record of scoring first-half goals is amazing. West Ham might make them work a bit harder than Norwich did, but I can only see one outcome"

Lawro's former team-mate, Jan Molby takes a more cautious view of the game, and in his column for the Liverpool Echo, he noted:

"West Ham will be much better organised and [will] take defending [more] seriously. They will pose a bigger threat from set-pieces, and Liverpool must be switched on to every single one of them"

Lawro seems a tad overconfident; let's the hope the team does not go into today's game with a similar mindset.

My prediction: 3-1



  1. No Lucas please. Our midfield was much more livelier without him last weekend!

  2. I think you're right on Allardyce's tactics for Suarez. It is the obvious thing to do and Allardyce isn't that bright a manager. Assuming that Rodgers is, I would line up as follows:


    The movement up front should be enough to make the West Ham defense break ranks. Suarez coming from the wing means he can't be double teamed without leaving tremendous space in the middle for Coutinho, Aspas and Alberto to capitalize on.

    Playing Agger at full back also means you add height and experience against not the greatest wingers and strikers in the league. Downing and Morrison would be walking into Johnson and Agger and I believe both can handle those players. Agger on experience against Morrison and Johnson can handle Downing simply because he's a much better defender than Downing is an attacker.

    This may seem a bit offensive to some but we need to and want to win these matches at home so now is as good as any to take the game to our opposition. Considering our quality against theirs we may not end up with a clean sheet but we can certainly outscore them this way.

  3. Morrison is banned for today's game so we've one less player to worry about.

  4. * no real player to worry about - havent watched too many WHU games so far this season, but morrison seems to be their only threat with an match-changing ability in their squad... i dont really fear their attack (maiga and cole have been useless so far), the only thing thats worrying me is their midfield that could probably outpower ours - nevermind i predict a 4 - 1 with another luis suarez show :) (2x luis 1x gerrard 1x coutinho)

  5. I think we said the same when Hull came to us.

  6. Henderson should of been dropped against Norwich, I agree that Aspas and Alberto should of played, but the reality is West Ham will pose a more physical threat therefore I believe Henderson and Lucas should start, and Sakho MUST play here, I agree Agger is too much of a. Defensive liability, it will be a set piece that we concede today.

  7. i was more afraid of hull than of westham - even though i have sympathies for the club, i find it easy to say that WH are without any doubt one of the weakest sides of the BPL at the moment. whatever they still have the quality to become a mid table team, especially when big andy returns, which is fortunately not today :)

  8. sakho HAS to start instead of agger. theres an easy formula - play agger against technical teams like chelsea, tottenham and Manc and play sakho against physical teams like Westham, Stoke, everton, hull city ..

  9. I want to see Alberto-Allen-Henderson because they'll be much more mobile, but lack at physicality which I don't think will be much of a difference even if Gerrard-Lucas-Henderson played. I want to see Sakho today at LCB with Suarez-Aspas-Coutinho as the front three.

  10. I prefer this line up for today:


    Johnson - Skrtel - Sakho - Flanagan

    -------Henderson - Lucas - Allen-------


    ---------------Aspas - Suarez--------------

    And... Give Gerrard I little break, we have big matches ahead for December!!! Rodgers must keep him fresh and protect him. We are playing with West Ham, not Chelsea, Arsenal or City...

  11. Gerrard will not be dropped even if he loses one of his legs.

  12. You've given quite a good suggestion only if BR reads this and follows it.

  13. If you ask me, I'd say we go with Henderson-Allen-Alberto and it will be a lot more creative.

  14. Not a bad idea. Alberto must take some chances.

  15. I don't think BR has the cojones to do that because if he does then I must say he's ready to take chances and eventually will get us a team that can go for the kill when fielded upon.

  16. i hate the current Gerrard-lucas combination in midfield but i think one of Gerrard and Lucas should always play. these two are our most experienced midfielders... im afraid allen-hendo-alberto would be to inexperienced

  17. well this is my solution, im pretty sure BR knows better ;)

  18. I think we're too attached to Gerrard & Lucas, we should play a match without them and see how the team does because that means there will be a change at Anfield which I feel must be welcomed.

  19. Although I appreciate the principle of rewarding an attacker who scores , I think making this an automatic outcome is not good. What this means is that if Suarez is injured today and all the attacking players score, Suarez doesn't start next game. Also, you get players not playing for the team by making sure they get on the scoresheet to guarantee their place next game even if there are better passing options.

    Would agree that Sakho and Alberto should get a start but would like also to see Aspas get an opportunity to play in the position he feels he can do damage - up front - while Sturridge is out.

    I like Hendo's improvement this season but if this is as good as it gets with him then he needs another spell on the bench to take his game to the next level. Rewarding him with a start every week under KD was the factor that stagnated his game.

  20. all togehter, yes i agree with you, but still if you think of a midfieldpairing of hendo and allen, they are IMO much to young to carry a team from midfield.. thats why some new midfielders should be welcomed in january :)

  21. I think rodgers should rest agger and skrtel and play toure sakho, many games being played and they could pick up an injury especially agger, toure sakho should be doing well even though I know its a risk, drop allen, that guy really doesnt convince at all, so unsure and inconsistent with the ball, every time he has the ball I fear he could give it away and we concede one, lucas aint that better but no other option so recall for this one, sterling dropped as well, did almost nothing in the last two starts except that tap in,which I guess everyone would of scored except allen, coutinho looked a bit selfish at times last game and why the hell does he takes the free kicks? Its sure fat sam will park the bus and if we dont get an early goal things might go very frustrating today, seeing a very tight game.. Hopefully we get some luck on the road. Mignolet johnson toure sakho flano lucas gerrard alberto coutinho hendo suarez.

  22. I'm concerned abt Diame making marauding runs, my fear is Allen will just bounce of him! For this reason, Lucas may be the better option!

  23. If we're worried about Diame's "marauding runs" then it may be prudent to stick Agger in the defensive midfield position with Skrtel & Sakho behind. Agger is spot on with tackling but slightly suss defending set pieces and he has a tendency to embark on his own marauding runs. If he's playing at DM, then he won't leave a gap at the back when he gets forward.

  24. Does Agger have the bottle to get stuck in?

  25. The team I think Rodgers should play is:

  26. We'll have to wait and see, mate, he's out with an illness today. But, in all honesty, I think he does. Who has all those tats and is a wus?

  27. Lucas still on the bench today, right choice as I feel we need more creativity which we need after the woeful display against Hull

  28. We don't need another RB. We have cover for Johnson in the form of Toure, Kelly, Flanagan and Wisdom. Priority is a quality LB.

  29. Allen and Flanagan seem to be forming a good partnership