28 Jan 2014

Possible LFC XI vs. Everton: 4 big issues for BR; Drop £8m star...?

Liverpool may be struggling to bring in new players, but it's time to take a break from fretting over the club's negligent flailing in the transfer market, and focus on an exciting night of football ahead. It's Merseyside derby time, and like most Reds fans, I can't wait for the game to kick-off :-)

Tonight's game with Everton is arguably the most important Premier League match of the season.

A win will send the Reds four points clear of their Merseyside rivals, but a defeat - plus a win for Spurs - will send the club plummeting into sixth place, and will hand LFC's Champions League rivals a huge psychological advantage.

Despite the return of Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool's squad is still pretty threadbare, and the likes of Mamdou Sakho, Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva, Jose Enrique, Glen Johnson, and Daniel Agger are expected to miss the game through injury.

Allen trained yesterday, but in his pre-match press conference, Rodgers couldn't confirm whether he'd be fit enough to start tonight's game.

Hopefully, Allen will be fit because the alternative is Steven Gerrard playing as a defensive midfielder, and against Everton, that is a truly terrifying prospect (!)

For me, Rodgers has several important issues to resolve:

* If Allen is not fit, who plays the defensive-midfield role?
* Who comes in to replace Glen Johnson?
* Does Moses keep his place, or does Sterling return?
* Should Coutinho keep his place?

Defensive midfield

If Allen is not fit, Jordan Henderson should take that role. Playing Gerrard there against Everton should not even be an option. It may not be Hendo's natural position, but he is far more mobile and athletic than Gerrard, and he has the recovery time over short-distances to make an impact. Gerrard, on the other hand, is easily bypassed in midfield, and he doesn't have the legs to effectively perform the role for ninety minutes (or even 45 minutes).


It seems likely that Martin Kelly will retain his place. After all, who else is there? Jon Flanagan is back from injury, but after Rodgers' fawning eulogy for Flanno during his Monday press conference, I suspect that he'll replace Cissokho on the left.


I'm no fan of Victor Moses, and if I had my way, LFC would cancel his loan deal and send him back to Chelsea. However, he scored in the last game, so he should start the Everton game. If there's any chance of Moses building up some creative momentum, then let it ride.


Only one assist in the last ten games now for Coutinho. Is he justifying his consistent selection? Perhaps it's time to give him a rest and play Moses/Sterling instead?

Preferred Line-Up:

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

Kelly ---- Toure --- Skrtel ---- Flanagan

--------------- Hendo

-------------- Gerrard

Sterling ----------------- Moses

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

If Joe Allen is fit:

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

Kelly ---- Toure --- Skrtel ---- Flanagan

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

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

----- Sterling

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

Predicting a 2-1 win for Liverpool, Reds legend Mark Lawrenson told the BBC:

"Everton's absentees might prove more costly because they have lost a bit of guile in midfield with Ross Barkley being out. It will not be easy to keep Everton quiet, though. Scoring is not Liverpool's problem, but they have looked vulnerable defensively recently"

My prediction: 2-2



  1. Agree with that second line-up.
    I think Moses should start ahead of Coutinho (never expected to be writing that), but I can't imagine Coutinho having as pronounced an impact coming off the bench as Moses would. Worth thinking about.
    The big wish of all fans: no Cissokho! I have a suspicion that if Flanno is fit, Brendan will drop Kelly and play Aly and Flanno.
    Also, it is funny how much people are crossing their fingers that Allen will be back (me included) despite his infamous role in the last derby. A credit to his form after that.

  2. I won't even try to make a prediction on the today's starting eleven but I agree with Jamie, playing Hendo in DM would be my preference as well over Gerrard. There were few games earlier in the season where Hendo showed great defensive mentality.

    I feel bad for Coutinho, after Enriques injury he depleted. His link up with
    Cissokho is crap(Cissokho fault mostly). I think if he had the chance to play behind SAS his ability to provide for the team would be different.

    Here is my pick...

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

    Flanagan ---- Toure --- Skrtel ---- Cissokho

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

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

    Suarez --------------------------- Sterling

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

    I don't see Kelly starting due to his poor form, so Flanagan should get the start and Cissokho. I can see Gerrard still playing DM but with help of Hendo. I would drop Sterling from right wing and start him on the left instead. Suarez on right wing with Coutinho being in creative role. I know this would probably never happen but I think this would fix our current midfield problem.

  3. sounds to me like we don't have the finances. Full stop.

  4. I know Coutinho has not been at his best but just have a feeling he could provide that bit of magic linking up with sas. A night time derby at Anfield could just be the occasion to get some form back and provide that spark.

    If Allen fit I'd go with 2nd line up posted above but Coutinho instead of Sterling. Plus you'd have option to bring on Raheem later in game with pace against tired legs. Obviously BR hoping Allen fit to provide energy along with hendo to take some load off SG as we were struggling in the middle last time out against Villa.

    Anyway fingers crossed for a great performance and more importantly a win. Stick my neck out a say 3-0 we're due a good one.

  5. Martinez could also be quite coy on the extent of Everton's injury list. It may not be as bad as he seems to suggest and more familiar faces could return to the starting XI. He's done this before...

  6. Yeah most sites are saying he is 'assessing knocks' on up to half dozen players, wouldn't be surprised if at least 3 of them make it. From what I've read he's defo gonna take a punt on Barkley with a pain killing injection and why not, he is one of their most influential players at moment. Have to keep an eye on him, local lad as well and will be up for it. Could go other way and lose his head given amount of red cards in derby over the years.

  7. This game can be won in two areas, in midfield and defence. If br wants to win this one, he better tell skrtel and toure not to make one single error, and they are not the best partnership but thats all we have atm, I hope I wont be seeing cissokho but Im afraid I will, drop kelly hes stupid, pulling shirts in the box, gave away a pen last game luckily the ref didnt give it, hope flano comes in and performs, and the midfield, if gerrard is a dm again this game is heavily lost, br must not make that mistake again, drop coutinho, sas will have chances during the game, as I said the defence and dm thing will be key.

  8. All the better - if starts players that are unfit, and they get injured, all the better for us. Not that I want them to get injured, just sayin - if Barkley's toe isn't better, and this gets aggravated, no fault but his own.

  9. I think Toure will be able to handle the big man - he was a solid starter at the beginning of the season - got injured, then came back shakey needing to try prove his worth. He should be settled now, and Skrtel has shown he can do the business. Everton is going down!

  10. The problem is toure playing and left Cb, where he wasnt the best before, not his position, and why lukaku always terrorises our defence, no matter who plays he just rip us apart, really worried about toure and gerrard if he starts as dm.

  11. This feels so much like a CL game: mid-week, immense pressure, crowd gonna be buzzing, A LOT at stake, ... Come on we need those nights back at Anfield !!!!

  12. I've got the same feeling. I don't think we can keep a clean sheet though, so I'm giving them a goal. Wouldn't be surprised if they scored first and we grew into the game.

  13. Liverpool team: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sturridge, Sterling, Suarez. Subs:Jones, Kelly, Ibe, Smith, Moses, Aspas, Alberto

  14. Official:

    22 Mignolet
    38 Flanagan
    20 Cissokho
    08 Gerrard
    04 Kolo Touré
    37 Skrtel
    31 Sterling
    14 Henderson
    15 Sturridge
    07 Suárez
    10 Coutinho
    01 Jones
    06 Luis Alberto
    09 Iago Aspas
    12 Moses
    33 Ibe
    34 Kelly
    44 Smith

  15. Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Lukaku, Barry, Barkley, Pienaar, Stones, Alcaraz. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Naismith, Gueye, Osman, Garbutt

  16. Spot on Tom great call,agree with flanno over Kelly and stevie sitting with Henderson..come on redmen if ever we needed a big big performance vs the blues it's now for we need breathing space again

  17. So who's getting sent off tonight? Really hope it's one of theirs - Mirallas hopefully.

  18. I am glad Ian ayre is tight with the money. The best signings for br have been stirring and curing equalling 20m. If we do not spend in the winter is it so bad? We have less games. The team is playing well and we have played all our hardest games to date. I suspect if we do get CL. You will see us compete big time I the summer for players that will take us forward further. To be honest Salah will no doubt come to us or everton on loan as he will not be getting first team football at chelsea

  19. You refuse to accept your position on the sideline as a genuinely ignorant fan. And don't take the word personally, it means precisely what it is supposed to mean. We're all ignorant fans and Ayre does a job, probably 60-80 hours a week, of which we see nothing. To suggest that you can evaluate job performance in any accurate way based on press conference quotes and a selection of player transfers is laughable. Fans here are calling for him to be sacked and the truth is that no matter what you read in the paper you don't know what went on at the negotiation table. It's a convenient but foolish standard to say "he can be judged on results" when you don't even know what tools he works with, you don't even know how he approaches these things or even why they break down. You write articles like this where most of the content is guessing what happened and rhetorical questions. If you honestly and truly think that your view is anything other than a vague and probably inaccurate opinion then you are far beyond self-assured, you're living in a fantasy.

  20. 'it's not the loss of the player that's the main issue; it's LFC repeated inalbility to follow through with negotiations actually seal a major transfer deal"
    exactly my thoughts with regards to recent transfer dealings. For a club of our size and stature this should not be happening.

    Greta resul today- get in redmen!! and good to see Daniel apologizing straight after the game

  21. Totally agree Jamie. Rank Amateurism!! Ayre should be booted out on his arse. This is happening far too much. What is Brendan supposed to do!? If I was him I'd offer my resignation and say I'm not being backed for the players I WANT. (Not the Transfer Committes!) watch FSG squirm then! They know they'd have a job getting a replacement. No decent manager would come knowing he is not going to get funds but must still deliver Europe at the LEAST! It's a disgrace!

  22. Personally I think the backlash over the Salah saga to be a gross overreaction. Yes, two and a half months ought to have been ample time for a deal to be agreed, surely we are not naive enough to think just because we are "negotiating" with a player that it is only a matter of time before an agreement is reached. A player, like anyone else, wants to know that he is valued by his prospective owners, and if the terms of the transfer are not met, and it involves 2 months plus quibbling over details it hardly breeds confidence. If we have the finances as has been stated, we needed to be decisive in identifying targets and providing the necessaries to facilitate the transition. The fact that we haven't signed Salah is not a big deal, but what is disappointing is that we were certainly in for him, but ultimately failed due to "internal reasons". Clearly we will not address all the trouble areas , but at the very least strengthen one area, because emphatic victories aside, we need the reassurance of added quality.

  23. Ian Ayres incompetence is costing Liverpool far to much in respects to bolstering the squad. Ultimately IMO he should have been sacked after the summer in losing out on a good portion of our targets because he's to stubborn to break the bank. He will most likely undervalue any of our upcoming targets and spend far too much time beating around the bush before the player and agent become fed up with the negotiations. Would love to see Ayre out the doors at Liverpool, it's bad when Damien Comolli can close a deal quicker than you... YNWA!!!!!

  24. I'm not unhappy we didn't sign Salah. Whay we need a replacement for Sterling I never could understand. But it does show the incompetence of Ayre and the sooner he is gone the better.

  25. Agreed Jaimie Good Piece.

    If you can't secure your target within a given period then obviously the deal could not be done and you should move on.
    I suspect that there is some complacency and no sense of urgency.

    This reminds me of Rick Parry

  26. Bottom line is that Ayre has to go for the sake of LFC's future. His sense of judgment in assessing a player's worth is mostly wrong. Which explains the number of screw-up signings at the last moment just like last and the year before. Why can't we be early in signing before the rivals get the better of us? An experience person of quality would not need 2.5 months to evaluate a player who's willing to come over and play for the club.

  27. Is 11 million out of our reach?

  28. Peter from Perth WA7:29 am, January 29, 2014

    Without being called racist, many in the Arab world have proven to swap allegiances at the drop of a hat. could it also be true that money was the major factor both with Salah and his Agent Empacher because Basel surely jumped very quickly when more money was on the table. Would you really want someone playing for LFC who is not totally committed?

  29. Peter from Perth WA7:32 am, January 29, 2014

    Will Salah really be happy as a bench warmer because there is no way on this earth I would compare him to the former resident bench warmer, Mata.

  30. The fact people are complaining we spent £11mill on Borini. He was affordable. Didn't cut it. £8mill on Aspas and he isn't a regular goalscorer. Salah might not be able to keep the pace of the premiership either. Management probably didn't want to take the risk either or attempted to put in a offer nearer their evaluation.

  31. Peter from Perth WA7:38 am, January 29, 2014

    On another story altogether ... It’s a time honoured
    tradition in Liverpool to acknowledge a person’s personal tragedy or the
    adulation of a person’s personal triumph by the donation of copper coins. I
    doubt very much that Suarez, unless he had not been informed of Scouse
    traditions would have complained to the match referee unless he like many in
    the media would unwittingly interpret this action as something sinister. It
    would also be of note that should any Everton supporter or Liverpool supporter
    for that matter wanted to strike a person with a coin, they would undoubtedly not
    have missed.

  32. Come on, all of those "transfer misses" went after CL football and bigger salary. There's no point paying over the odds, and you can see that our "belaguered Ayre" got us, after all, Coutinho and Sturridge. You can see that if a player really wants to come he's thrived well.

    Salah's agent is here unprofessional coming out with this information. Why he did that? Chelsea were probably willing to pay more to the agents. I don't wonder why Salah is his biggest client. And Salah is a player from a minnow league. Other 2 Basel youngsters, Shaqiri and Xhaka went for 10m and 7,5m respectively. Paying 11m + 2-4m add ons for a player who has played well one and half seasons in a minnow league, come on. He's got talent but am I seeing some over hype here? Only time will tell if this was a miss.