31 Oct 2014

4 big choices for BR; shock start for 'wonderful' star? Is this LFC's XI for Newcastle?

Last weekend, Liverpool wasted a golden opportunity to gain a strong foothold in the Premier League's top four by carelessly dropping home points against a comparatively 'lesser' team. Despite that, the Reds are just three points off third place, and after a morale-boosting victory over Swansea this week, LFC should go into Saturday's game against Newcastle full of confidence.

On the injury front, Brendan Rodgers confirmed on Thursday that Jose Enrique is injured yet again. Sakho, Sturridge, Suso, and Flanagan also remain on the club's injury list.

As I see it, Rodgers has four important decision to make:

* Start Borini? - The Italian grabbed an assist against Swansea, and had an okay game overall, but did he do enough to warrant a start against Newcastle? Probably, but I can't see it happening. Sterling and Gerrard will come back into the team, and the two players most likely to make way are Lucas and Borini. If LFC play a 442 diamond, then Borini has an outside chance of starting, but even then, Rodgers will probably go with Sterling/Baloteli.

It's all moot, though - on Thursday, Rodgers hailed Borini's Swansea performance as 'outstanding', and whenever he heaps praise on someone during a press conference, that player invariably ends up on the bench for the next game. In recent weeks, both Coutinho and Sterling have fallen foul of the Rodgers kiss of death.

* Toure vs. Skrtel - Toure had a solid game against Swansea, and he's more than capable of doing a job against Newcastle. However, in my view, Skrtel has to come back into the team, as he and Lovren as LFC's first-choice defensive partnership. As such, they need to play together as much as possible in order to build up an understanding, and that can't happen if the defence keeps chopping and changing.

* 4231 vs. 442 - LFC fans are crying out for Liverpool to play two up-front, but Rodgers keeps persisting with 4231. It's maddening, but after the Swansea victory, he'll almost certainly stick with it for the Newcastle game, despite the fact that it's not getting the best out of Mario Balotelli.

The Swansea game will also paper over the cracks of the 4231 formation. In Rodgers' eyes, Liverpool won the game, and Balotelli scored, ergo it's working, but in the league, 4231 is a dismal failure so far, and it will be again if it's utilised against Newcastle.

* Allen vs. Can - Emre Can started ahead of Jordan Henderson in last week's 0-0 draw with Hull, but Hendo will inevitably return for the next game, which leaves one space left in midfield. In my view, Allen should get the nod; I still can't see what Can brings to the team, and (for the most part), the same applies to Allen...but the Welsh midfielder's pressing ability will come in handy against Newcastle.

Taking everything into consideration, I'd like to see the following formation for Newcastle:

--------------------- Jones

Manquillo ----- Skrtel ---- Lovren ----- Moreno

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

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

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

-------------- Sterling -- Balotelli

I doubt Rodgers will go with this, and I have a feeling that Coutinho may well be 'rested' after playing midweek, so I expect to see the following:

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

Johnson -------- Skrtel --- Lovren ----- Moreno

--------------- Gerrard -- Allen

------- Hendo ----- Sterling --- Lallana

------------------ Balotelli

Jordan Rossiter has trained with the first-team this week, so maybe he'll get a place on the bench. Rodgers may even spring a huge surprise and start the 'wonderful' youngster, but it seems unlikely.

Predicting a 1-1 draw, Reds legend Mark Lawrenson insisted that the whole team 'has to play better' to beat Newcastle. He told the BBC:

"Liverpool have had their own problems, which are not over despite the Reds getting out of jail with that late turnaround to beat Swansea in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday".

Sorry, but I have a bad feeling about this game. Newcastle are in the midst of three-game winning run; they're at home, and confidence will be sky high...

My prediction: 3-1 to Newcastle.



  1. Rodgers talked specifically about the formation in a recent press conference and some subtle adjustments he's making to the shape, so whatever hasn't been working I'd expect to see something a little different. Maybe he'll just cut his losses and go for the 4-4-2 with a diamond. For me that means Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana and Sterling/Coutinho in the midfield. Borini and Balotelli up front. Maybe swap out Stevie G for Can, Allen or Lucas.

  2. Diamond with Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson and Coutinho, please.

  3. I'm worried about powerhouse Sissoko & mini Kluivert aka Rolando Aarons. I share your concerns JK, as they will be on a high after an outstanding performance against City.

  4. Well reasoned and written argument. Totally agree with what you have said.

  5. Borini Touré and Can should all start IMO. Diamond with Can at bottom with hendo and gerrard in middle and coutinho at the top. Sterling shouldnt play Imo, hes had poor form lately

  6. Lets hope he has Stevie G s personality as well - I have been anti Borini all along but FABIO PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG - You started V Swans - Good on ye lad

  7. Oh dear, had a bad day Jaimie?

  8. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:40 am, October 31, 2014


    i wanna see lallana,markovic and can get games but cant see how we can fit them in

    the only player i would rest is manquillo let him be a million% for c ronaldo

  9. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:44 am, October 31, 2014

    I also think balotelli can yet turn a corner

    as people said suarez was not particularly prolific at the start and arsenal fans said bergkamp henry and pires were quite shit*te for them at the start

  10. I would play the narrow diamond with 2 up front:

    GK- Jones
    LB- Moreno
    CB- Skrtel
    CB- Lovren
    RB- Manquilo
    DM- Can
    CM- Henderson
    CM- Coutinho
    AM- Sterling
    ST- Borini
    ST- Balotelli

    At this stage of his career, Sissoko will have Gerrard for lunch, I feel Can can(no pun intended) do a good job at DM is played there consistently.

    If we are struggling the Lallana can come on.

    But Brendan will probably start Borini on the bench or on the right wing which to me is negligible.

  11. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:45 am, October 31, 2014

    bench: lambert,markovic,lallana,allen,can,skrtel,jones

  12. Why play Borini on the right? He done "ok" last game but his impact is minimal coming from there.

    Balo struggles to play by himself, a partner for him is needed.

  13. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:46 am, October 31, 2014

    gerrard will never be rested no point in even suggesting that

    borini started up front vs west ham he looked lost vs swansea of the right he looked much better

  14. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:47 am, October 31, 2014

    borini can play a free role
    where he can go anywhere when attacking
    but when defending he should be on the right
    otherwise we will get exposed like vs west ham

  15. Let Gerrard play in place of Sterling in your formation and we will see who's available for lunch then.

  16. Interesting comments coming from SG regarding his future. His contract ends in may meaning he can talk with other clubs this January and he mentioned whether he stays goes is Liverpool's decision.

    I for one would be happy to see him leave to another country, I feel he would really enjoy the experience playing abroad, maybe Spain.

    I think if he leaves he will be missed for sure, but I think we need to start a new cycle without him. We have players that if given the chance can play in that DM position and make more of an impact.

    Either way I will be sad to see him go.

  17. Nevergonnacrackthecode9:55 am, October 31, 2014

    yeah i hope he dont leave as he can still play a role
    but not every game and i think gerrard like carra respects himself too much to play off the bench , i would really be disappointed

    but maybe we need this decision like chelsea with lampard we will lose a lot of shirt money though as he is our main attraction


    this is the new lfc xi i wanna see next season with sturridge starting ahead of martinez when fit

  18. ---------------------------Mignolet

    Manquilo ---------Skrtel -------Lovren --------Moreno

    --------------Allen--------------------- Gerrard

    ----------Sterling -----------------------------Hendo



  19. Or either this


    Manquilo ---------Skrtel -------Lovren --------Moreno

    --------------Allen--------------------- Gerrard




  20. I was thinking more Gerrard in for Coutinho in the CM spot, maybe giving Sterling/Tino half a game each in the AM spot - rest for RM match.

  21. Swap Sterling with Coutinho and that's how BR will start today, me thinks.

  22. Second formation. Swap Allen for Can and Lallana for Coutinho.

  23. Maybe 3-4 years ago...playing AM requires a lot of energy and surging runs, something Gerrard does not possess fully at this stage.

  24. Just him being part of LFC makes a big impact, he inspires the whole squad, and the fans included. You are right in saying though, we can't keep relying on him to guide us forever.

  25. I meant Gerrard in for Sterling but will play at CM and Coutinho further up as AM. Gerrard should play like Fabregas and Coutinho like Oscar.

  26. I want SG to play like Yaya Toure/Fabregas with the protection of Lucas behind (Fernandinho/Matic). We have our very own Silva/Oscar in Coutinho. Add Hendo into the mix, our midfield is as good as anyone then.

  27. And Yaya Toure is even more lazy than Gerrard.

  28. I wouldn't be all that surprised if he went off to the USA to play for a little bit.

  29. 4-1 to Liverpool, Jamie...
    Sorry, that's my prediction

  30. With this squad be lucky to come away losing 2-0

  31. Mignolet

    Only Doubt- Who to play as DM

  32. Brilliant post. I feel quite strongly about this issue as well

  33. I'm sorry but late turnaround is rubbish. It was Swansea who scored against the run of play and at the end of the day we just got the result we deserved. The same as the discussion about what system we play. The problem is not the system, the problem is that we don't have enough players who give a rat's behind. The problem is that guys like Balotelli and Can stroll around the pitch like we're 5-0 up as opposed to someone like Suarez who wants to win every game 46-0. For this weekend I'd be happy with as few new signings as possible and I agree we need to drop Mignolet. Not sure Jones is much better but at least we need to send out a signal that if you're underperforming you get dropped. Even if the guy behind you is not as talented as you, he may just overperform given the opportunity. So in short I'd go for Jones;Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno ; Gerrard Allen Coutinho; Sterling Lambert Lallana. 4-3-3 Barca style. We have the full backs for it so let's take the game to them.

  34. Steven Gerrard is a huge name in world football. Most of the fans in Asia started following Liverpool because of Steven Gerrard. All of my friends who support other clubs respect Stevie G and wish they had a player like him in their team. The lure of Liverpool will decline considerably if he leaves because he is not just an important player, he is Mr. Liverpool. Its sad that Liverpool fans have been criticizing him at a time when he still has lot to offer. He was as important as Suarez/Sturridge in our title run last season and was chosen in the Team of the Year by the EPL players. He still haven't lost much since last season and when his contract is up, he will be chased by lot of big clubs, am 100% sure of it. However, if he does leave because Liverpool didn't offer him an extension then it has to be one of the most disappointing piece of business ever done by Liverpool.

  35. You are dreaming if you think we will play like Barca with Lambert upfront.

  36. Superb post again. Totally agree

  37. Dare I suggest....Rossiter - Allen - Coutinho? Or will I be killed with platitudes like 'too lightweight" - "not enough height in that midfield" and "it could kill his confidence" when I say that?

  38. Gerrard lazy? Did you mean that or just that now he has to pace himself?

  39. The Skrtel/Lovren partnership needs to be ended. The one thing that has become clear is that there is no communication between Skrtel and Lovren. There was no communication between Skrtel and Sakho last season either. I would much rather go with Toure and Lovren for the Newcastle match. At least Toure brings some form of leadership at the back and does not get bullied so easily and Johsnon needs to be sat on the bench. Manquillo and Lovren to start.

  40. Gerrard's playing style as DM is a bit lazy. He looks much more active when playing further up which IMO is his natural position and he absolutely relishes that role.

  41. Nevergonnacrackthecode12:06 pm, October 31, 2014

    I ask you this question , not to difficult

    let me answer for you you play them together continuity is key they need time to understand eachotehr game
    they kept their first clean sheet together vs hull now give them a chance

  42. Perhaps, but looking at things Sterling has more start for games than Coutinho.

  43. Nevergonnacrackthecode12:09 pm, October 31, 2014

    man city chelsea,everton and arsenal back four were not always as good as it is

    terry,ivanovic,azipeciluleta,cahill all ahve beeen here for 3 season now as a back unit
    jagielka,distin,baines have been here for 4 seasons now only change coleman in for hibbert
    mertesacker and koshilny were not always a good partnership

    zabeletaa,clichy and kompany have been here for a long time now demichelsise and kompany started off badly but they are now solid

  44. Sorry but Hull have been the poorest team we have played this season. They showed no intention of winning the game. Hull's defence spared our defence's blushes.

  45. If it is not Gerrard then it has to be Can. I picked the same team in a previous thread.

  46. Enemyofeverydisbeliever12:41 pm, October 31, 2014

    Atm Id play rossiter over lucas allen markovic and gerrard. Sounds crazy but you cant really argue, the players above are having a nightmare season.

  47. Enemyofeverydisbeliever12:47 pm, October 31, 2014

    Mignolet Manquillo Moreno Skrtel Toure Gerrard Hendo Coutinho Sterling Borini Balo. Not the biggest fan of toure but anyone for lovren, hes just miserable. If Borini doesnt start then he'll never start an. epl game. Wouldnt mind dropping gerrard but no one has the balls to do it unfortunately. If I see markovic playing I will probably turn the match off.

  48. Ever the optimist :)

  49. I agree he is better further forward but being lazy implies a deliberate lack of effort which I don't think is in his nature

  50. Gerrard no longer has the legs to play the side of a diamond. Stevie can play the quarterback role or as a no10 but he can't be asked to go box to box. Hendo and either Allen or Lallana should be on the sides to maximise their energy and pressing. Coutinho can do a job there too or on the tip, rotating with Sterling who could also play up front. I'd like to see Borini given a chance though

  51. I used to comment on your articles lets try again and see how it goes....

    So in addition to Jordan Rossiter Lloyd Jones, Kevin
    Stewart and Daniel Trickett-Smith all got involved in the first-team training
    session to. Are they in line for a first team start as well and going to demand 100k a week? Youth players often train with first team players, no one is hailing Rossiter as a legend, remember the hype everyone put around Conor Coady and he left the club. One good debut does not a huge wage demanding - legend in waiting make :)

  52. Will BR have Real Madrid on his mind on Tuesday? It really does make Newcastle away a difficult game, I'd be disappointed if we dont go to Madrid and put a shift in. Win or lose, we need to start competing with the big boys in europe, the gulf in class was really worrying.

  53. If only they could!

  54. I was thinking the same! But maybe Allen istead of Coutinho, Hendo and Allen know how its done in that position. Coutinho for Sterling if needs be later on..

  55. Well your friends are going to learn a valuable lesson: that no individual is bigger than a club like Liverpool, that players move on but the club stays and grows. We've lost bigger players than Steven over the years and moved on.

    Your loyalty isn't meaningful when it's to a player, only when it's to a team, to a community, a family. Huge names are just images, without substance, they don't really count for anything in the end. Steven's just another player at the end of the day.

  56. I didn't mean that to sound so patronising, sorry!

  57. Consistently writing rubbish! Another comedy article...... Too many people writing about what they know little about. I know nothing only what I read in many places form my opinion and laugh at the crap! Carra is not in the know he gets a snippet here or there and with Neville you could call them the chuckle brothers.

  58. In my short life as a Liverpool fan, I haven't seen a bigger player than Steven Gerrard for Liverpool. Club will always be bigger than an individual but even you would agree that for few years Steven Gerrard was a bigger name than Liverpool. He would have achieved lot more if it wasn't for his loyalty and Liverpool would have suffered even more without him. He single-handedly won important trophies for the club. The Liverpool trophy cabinet wouldn't have been the same in past decade without him. I think you and other fans are undermining his contribution, love and importance to the club. He represented the club throughout the years better than any other player, manager or owner. He is still an extremely good player. Name me one player who has a better passing range from deep like Stevie G, who has a better set piece quality than Stevie G, who is a better leader/captain than Stevie G. The man is a gift to Liverpool and it makes me sad that all his contribution has been discarded so easily by his own fans. He is still a very good player and for me he will always be the face of the club.

  59. If you watch a tribute to Carragher, Drogba says he was one of the best defenders in Europe and one who never gave him an inch. Wish we had more like Carragher as it is we have a lot of light weight players who disappear in games regularly. Rossiter looks ok but remember Jay Spearing !! He was a similar height and build and he does an average job for Bolton every week at the bottom of the championship.

  60. ex players always drool over each other .....my problem with carra of late is from a journalistic standpoint is he picks his targets and talks as if he never had a bad game...well ive seen him at cb with matteo and they played like a pair of clowns he was very average for a long time and then in his late twenties got better