Liverpool host neighbours Everton this afternoon in the early kick-off with the intention of reasserting their dominance of last season over the boys from across Stanley Park.
Going into the match, Brendan Rodgers remains without Joe Allen (knee), Emre Can (ankle), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Glen Johnson (thigh). Although Daniel Sturridge should be available after overcoming his thigh injury sustained whilst with England.
Formation-wise, Rodgers should be looking to retain Mamadou Sahko and Dejan Lovren as the central defensive pairing. The two give a good mixture of passing – both short and long as well as good positioning over the erratic Martin Skrtel. The pair have come in for some criticism this morning from Jamie Carragher in the Daily Mail. But let’s face it, their the best we have right now in my opinion. I expect Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo to remain at left and right back respectively, and Steven Gerrard returning to the side in front of the back four.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that Lucas will return to the midfield along with Jordan Henderson in the absence of Can and Allen. Adam Lallana played very well in midweek and he looks as if he’s returning to form. I expect him to start alongside Mario Balotelli with Raheem Sterling in support. On the midweek performance, I don’t see any place for Lazar Marković, who for me remains the only totally unconvincing summer purchase.
Philippe Coutinho may also feature but on recent form, it’s unlikely he’ll get the nod over Lucas. The former’s dip in form this season has been startling and bewildering to say the least and I’m hoping he can play a part today and get his confidence back on track. I’m also looking for a good performance from Simon Mignolet between the sticks as he’s been less than reliable of late. Hopefully the rumors surrounding Victor Valdes will prove to be true and Rodgers can bring in some real competition for the last line of the defence.
Considering the recent run of poor form, Liverpool need to return to their high intensity game that served them so well last season. So far this term they’ve looked to play more to the strengths of Balotelli. Not a good plan. It would be better to stick with the winning formula. The Italian, despite his lack of mobility could still contribute in a high tempo environment and we need to see this again. likewise the centre back pairing, whoever Rodgers goes for needs to start showing more awareness, ability and courage in games and what better time to get things going than now against an Everton side that’s been arguably just as poor so far.
Elsewhere, the match to watch today will be the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs at the Emirates Stadium for the late kick-off. Last week only Chelsea recorded a victory from the ‘top’ sides, although Spurs will be looking to extend their form with a win over Arsene Wenger’s inconsistent Gooners. For me, the dark horse this year is going to be Southampton who under Ronald Koemann who has put together an impressive unit. They face QPR today so I’d expect another three points for them!
So, let the talking stop and the games begin. Hopefully the mast have report this evening will recount a better affair than last week’s gloomy, rant. Come on Brendan, give the fans something to cheer for.
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