10 Dec 2015

Liverpool-XI vs. Sion: Excitement as 'sensational' attacker returns; £40m-trio out; surprise start for Smith? [PREDICTION LEAGUE]

After the disappointing 2-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Newcastle, Liverpool need to bounce back ASAP, and Thursday's game with FC Sion represents an ideal chance for the team to get back to winning ways.

Pre-Match news:

* 'Sensational' Brazilian Philippe Coutinho has recovered from his hamstring injury, and travelled with the club to Switzerland.

* Lucas, Allen, Moreno, and Sturridge all stayed behind, and will miss the game.

* Rossiter, Randall, Henderson, and Can (suspended for the last game), also made the trip.

According to John Aldridge, Liverpool should field a weakened team against Sion, but in my view, that's a mistake. A win is essential to rebuild confidence, and to get the momentum going ahead of the weekend game with West Brom, and the last thing the club needs is another defeat.

As such, Klopp should (and almost certainly will) play a strong team, which is almost certainly going to to include Coutinho and Can, both of whom missed the last game, and are comparatively fresh.

Christian Benteke has suffered a dip in form recently, but the key (IMO) to getting the best out of him is a mix of the following:

* Utilising width when he's in the team, with more accurate crossing to utilise strength and height.

* Getting midfielders into the box to pick up knock-downs (and avoid lone-striker isolation).

* Playing accurate balls into feet in and around the 18 yard box. Example: Benteke's goal against Chelsea, which came after an accurate ball into feet in the box. He is an excellent finisher, and given the opportunities, he'll score.

* Reverting to 4321. For me, this is the most important change. In a 4321, Benteke is often isolated as there are only two attacking midfielders behind him, and one of those will drift out wide to provide width (leaving Benteke, plus one AM available in the box).

* Plus, the extra midfielder who's actually capable of getting into the box (Can, or Milner, for example) is often too far behind the play to make up the ground and provide support.

* With three AMs behind Benteke, one of the attackers can focus on width (along with the full-backs) and the other two can be more central and *close* to Benteke when Liverpool attack.

With this in mind, I'd like to see the following lineup:

------------------ Bogdan
Randall ---- Skrtel -- Lovren ----- Smith
-------------- Can --- Rossiter
---- Hendo ----- Coutinho ----- Origi
----------------- Benteke

* Origi providing width/pace on the flanks, along with Smith.

* Coutinho and Hendo operating centrally when Liverpool attack, and staying close to Benteke.


You have until Thursday 6PM (GMT) to make your predictions.

* 20 Points: First goalscorer (Can be for either team).

* 20 Points: Liverpool player with the most *backward* passes

* 30 Points: Collective number of times Liverpool lose possession.

* 50 Point Triple-Whammy: Perfect score + first goalscorer + backward passes (Possible points total: 120)

* The Ivan Danko Mega-Bonus: 100 points for Perfect score + first goalscorer + backward passes + loss of possession (Possible points total: 200)

My prediction: 2-2. First goalscorer: Firmino. Backward passes: Can. Collective loss of possession: 22

* Lucas: £8m-rated. Allen: £20m-rated (!) Moreno: Cost £12m. Combined cost/worth: £40m

Author: Jaimie K


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