18 Jan 2014

Possible LFC XI vs. Villa: 4 big issues for BR; Defender to be dropped...?

With Spurs and Everton not playing until Sunday and Monday respectively, Liverpool have a golden opportunity to pull away from their fiercest Champions League rivals, and if results go the club's way this weekend, the Reds could really consolidate a position in the top four.

In article yesterday, I posted stats showing LFC's historical league position after 21 games, and the figures showed that every time the Reds achieved over 40 points at the 21-game stage, the club went on to finish in the top four.

As such, if Liverpool can maintain the current two points-per-game-average, then - catastrophic collapse notwithstanding - a place in the top four seems assured this season. On the fitness front, things are looking up in terms of overall squad strength:

* Mamadou Sakho and Joe Allen should be back in contention. In his pre-Villa press conference on Thursday, Brendan Rodgers confirmed:

"We've got Joe Allen back. He returned in training and we'll just wait and see how young Sakho is over the next day or so"

* Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard are fit and back in the fold.

There are several issues for Brendan Rodgers to consider:

* Should Daniel Sturridge start the game, or come on from the bench again?
* If Sturridge starts, who makes way to accommodate him?
* Will Joe Allen come back into the side straight away?
* After conceding 3 goals against Stoke, should Sakho replace Toure?


The striker's fitness is a constant concern, and he took another knock during the Stoke game, but after scoring and assisting, it's hard to leave Sturridge out of the starting line-up. It's a gamble, though. Sturridge seems to be the kind of player who scores a shedload of goals in a small burst of games but then inevitably gets injured, so there are basically two choices: Play him as much as possible and hope he scores as many goals as possible before the next injury, or use him sparingly, and hope he stays fitter for longer.

Who gets dropped?

If Sturridge starts, someone will have to make way. Jamie Redknapp believes it will be one of Coutinho, Henderson, or Lucas, but there's also the possibility that Raheem Sterling will drop to the bench. My personal choice is Lucas - if Gerrard is playing the holding role, why does he need to be in the team?

Joe Allen

There's no way that he'll come straight back into the starting line-up. He's not going to replace Gerrard or Henderson, and there's nowhere else in the team for him to play. Plus, he's just coming back from injury, so a place on the bench seems the most likely choice.


At the moment, there doesn't seem to be a wholly effective defensive combination for Liverpool. Whatever the partnership, the Reds have conceded goals, and the main issue continues to be aerial ineffectiveness. Peter Crouch beat Kolo Toure in the air for Stoke's first goal last week, but given the mismatch in height, that's one of the more understandable aerial errors of the season. I'd stick with Toure; he helped the club keep a clean sheet against Oldham recently, and the team collectively defended poorly at times against Stoke; it wasn't just down to the central defenders.

Possible Line-Ups

I hope to see the following line-up:

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

Johnson ----- Skrtel --- Toure ---- Cissokho

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

----------------- Coutino

--------- Sterling

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

With Villa struggling, that side is more than strong enough to achieve victory, and if it isn't, then serious questions need to be asked.

Predicting a 2-0 victory for Liverpool, Anfield legend Mark Lawrenson told the BBC:

"The Reds have been great at home this season and they have a knack of despatching teams in the first half of their games at Anfield. Aston Villa are much better away from home than they are at Villa Park, so they will not just roll over. Even so, I cannot see Paul Lambert's team leaving Anfield with anything".

Lawro's former team-mate, Jan Molby, is also confident of a Liverpool win. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"I can’t see Liverpool slipping up tomorrow. They will create a bucketload of chances and it’s a case of how many we take. Forget about what happened last season at home to Villa, those days are gone"

Despite his lack of goals this season, Christian Benteke remains a massive worry for Liverpool. He's torn the club's defenders to shreds in the past, and after scoring against Arsenal in his last game, he seems to be coming into form at exactly the wrong time (!) Hopefully, the Reds will not underestimate him.

My prediction: 3-1



  1. excited for tonight I expect an emphatic win whatever the starting team.

  2. He might have a stormer today who knows, but I would drop Coutinho. He has wasted chances and has been quite selfish and any player Rodgers has dropped has come back a far better player. Hendo and Sterling are perfect examples.

    Sturridge to slot straight in unless he is given extra healing time. It's good to have Allen and Sakho back but they should be on the bench for this one.

  3. You said in this article that you would stick with Toure, but in your formation you have put in Skrtel and Sakho? Personally I'd give Sakho more time to recover, same goes for Sturridge, that was a nasty injury, and coming back from it early must mean there's vulnerability there, I'm more that confident we can pull off a win without him in the starting line up, if not bring him on in the second half?

  4. Agree, might be the kick in the pants PC needs to push to the next level

  5. Based on the last few games , usually injured players who are fit again are chosen to come on in the 2nd half. I know that BR would pick the strongest team to face Villa and hopefully this time around Liverpool will have their revenge and win it convincingly.

  6. I would really like to play too but he is away on loan.

  7. gee i didnt know that.........oh wait YES I DID CAUSE HE JUST SCORED A SCREAMER!!! BORINI! YOU BEAUTIE!

  8. I guess he said borini because of the goal he just scored, everybody knows hes on loan, tf u on about?

  9. Crouch didn't really beat Toure in the air in that they were not both jumping for the ball. Toure didn't track crouch and so didn't compete for the ball really. It was not a height advantage that lead to the goal it was good movement from crouch. It wasn't entirely Toure's fault though, like Jaimie said it was a lot of team mistakes that lead to those goals. Personally I think our best CB pairing at the minute would be Sakho and Skrtel but Jaimie is dead right in that we seem to concede no matter who is playing. I wouldn't rush anyone back in though, we don't have a great deal of depth but should easily have enough for this game.

    Benteke is always a worry. He historically don't like big strong guys. I hope Skrtel doesn't get too caught up in physical battles and concentrates more on the ball.

  10. With the boss coming in should LFC go all out or limit themselves in this match? On a perfect day I would like 5-2, hope Benteke is non entity here.... Hope to see Gerrard drop in like last game a la Lucas and Lucas dropped for Coutinho. Hope no red cards in this match for LFC.

  11. Gotta be careful today, Lambert came twice at anfield and took points, 1-1 norwich and that humiliation of last year 1-3. So he knows how to nick points at anfield, BR should of studied that..I hope! Not expecting a thrashing unless we score two or three in the first half.

  12. Do yellow cards not get wiped come Jan 1st?

  13. He's doing well over there. You sound like you had a cheeky fiver on him :)

  14. Torn on the Sturridge question. Don't want to see him injured needlessly, as i think we should be beating them with or without, but the more Sturridge and Suarez play and score goals together the better. Tough call but i would play him, and maybe sub at 60mins assuming all is going to plan.
    Stick with Toure and Skrtel, I don't think there is a whole lot between them, and better not to rush him back.
    Everyone is afraid of Benteke but to me he is a shadow of the player he was last season since the injury. Granted he scored last week, but that goal was made by the ball into the box IMO. Still not convinced he isnt a one season player now he got his big pay rise.

  15. Good match between Sunderland and Soton. Borini 1 (#2 was offside but he was very composed and put the ball in the net) and Rodriguez 1. Borini's goal should creativity and composure so that is a good sign.

    I think Sturridge has to start. He's healthy, he's on form and he would be displeased if he didn't. We need to get goals early to avoid any AV hopefulness..

  16. Mr. Point Of View2:58 pm, January 18, 2014


  17. If he does pick up a fifth and is suspended he would miss the FA cup match. In that case not a bad deal

  18. That would be ok but even in fa cup I just cant see us winning without him, hes like 90% of liverpool atm.

  19. Ah yeah FA cup next weekend, dont know why but i was sure they were wiped.
    Nearly better off getting it out of the way so, he will be booked eventually and really cant afford that for a key match.

  20. I would prefer Borini to Aspas off the bench at this point, I don't think he would be happy with just off-the-bench action though.

  21. It's the question that drives us Neo

  22. are they shirt numbers for your team line-up?

  23. Mr. Point Of View3:49 pm, January 18, 2014

    oh yes...lazy type those name hehhee sorry ya
    5-3-2 formation

  24. Mr. Point Of View3:51 pm, January 18, 2014

    actually aspas got his quality...but matter BR can bring it ALL out is d question

  25. Mr. Point Of View3:52 pm, January 18, 2014

    today game i would really like to see aspas and ilori involve..

  26. Teams announced as expected, lucas dropped for sturridge...only change.
    Jamie - you and I was spot on with the expected line-up.

  27. extremely dissapointing match. to get 2 goals back was not enough and this should not be seen as a point gained. Mingolet was fantastic at the start of the season but hes has been poor in recent weeks and again he made the wrong decision which cost us a goal. IMO all the poor performers of the past weeks have cost us points, Coutinho against city, Mingolet against Chelsea and City, now Villa. GJ has been poor as ive said on countless occasions and because of hi contract situation just always plays the ball back to the keeper and doesnt bother. the first goal was his fault as well as he was caught out of position and Villa scored. im really upset and its starting to get me really angry the way teams turn up against LFC and were always having to really fight for results instead of comfortably winning games. Mingolet, Coutinho and Johnson should all be benched for next game against Everton and Bournemouth. theyve all been not just poor but very poor. Coutinho's final ball today was dreadful and he was ineffective. think we need to recall Suso ASAP. and Reina too. were in need of alot of help and Mingolet is really having a torrid few weeks. hes let in a lot of goals of late, many of them down to him.

    Suarez was good but the service him and sturridge recieved today was very poor and shows the need for new midfielders at Anfield. Lucas is just quality, and Rodgers favouritism of Coutinho cost LFC points today. Coutinho was the obvious person to be dropped after being subbed at Stoke and seeing how LFC improved. Rodgers basically changed a winning side which was wrong of him IMO. Coutinho must now be used as an impact player. poor.

    next game ill go with the following line-up


  28. Villa game shows Gerrard is not made for this role. We need Lucas, it's pretty clear!

  29. 100% agree.. but maybe others need still further convincing ;-)

  30. Unfortunately some do not share our clarity ;)

  31. Gerrard showed vs Stoke that he can play the role. The setup of the team was wrong.

    Even when Lucas came on in the 2nd half, Villa's players were jogging past him.

    If there is one important signing we need to make is a Mascherano type midfielder to cover for our defence. It is the only way all of us will be made happy.

  32. Clarity? Ha ha.

    Clarity on this website??? :-o

  33. Not really. Lucas has occupied the role for years and he does his job effectively. This would not have happened if Rodgers didn't have the guts to drop either Coutinho or Gerrard.

    Allen will come back in now which is good and if Lucas is out, he will surely play DM unless Rodgers goes ultra attacking again and leaves Allen out.

  34. I guess clarity is wrong isn't it? Insanity fits the bill :)