LIVERPOOL

v

READING

 Anfield, Liverpool

October 20, 2012; 15:00 CST

***

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers plays against his former club Reading on Saturday at Anfield. For Liverpool, the results have not quite matched their performances so far and despite enjoying the upper hand in a majority of the games in the league they lie a lowly 14th in the table. The Reds will be looking to exercise the home advantage against newly promoted Reading and nothing less than three points from this fixture would do for Liverpool, who are looking towards mounting a challenge for a top four spot this season.

Brendan Rodgers has had a tough start to the Premier League and his team are yet to register a victory at Anfield. A combination of bad luck, defensive errors and profligacy in front of goal has resulted in Liverpool only managing to take two points out of a possible 12 at home. Rodgers will be looking to stem the tide against his former club with a long overdue win at Anfield.

Reading have had a tough return to the top flight and Brian McDermott’s men are yet to register a win in the Premier League. Reading have played some decent football but The Royals find themselves in the relegation zone having picked up only three points from their six games so far. Reading have had a tough set of fixtures and have already played three Champions League hopefuls in Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle. Reading have also been guilty of surrendering leads and have only managed draws in their last two games.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool

Jonjo Shelvey returns from suspension after his red card against Manchester United but Liverpool may have to field Brad Jones in goal after Pepe Reina picked up a slight hamstring injury. Fabio Borini has broken his foot during the international week and looks set to miss the next three months due to injury. Martin Kelly’s ACL injury means that he is likely to miss the rest of the season. Another long term absentee is Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian has been on a steady road to recovery and is expected to be back in action a month ahead of schedule. Jose Enrique has recovered from his knee problem and is expected to start against Reading this weekend.

Brendan Rodgers will continue with his preferred 4-3-3 formation against Reading and will once again look to have a mix of youngsters and experienced professionals.

Brad Jones is expected to deputize in goal in the absence of Pepe Reina. With Jose Enrique back, Glen Johnson will resume his duties in his preferred right back position. But Rodgers must be careful of not overplaying him, especially after England’s delayed World Cup qualifier. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel are expected to start at the heart of the defence.

Rodgers is likely to field a midfield trio of Allen, Gerrard and Sahin. Both Allen and Sahin had excellent games for their countries and Rodgers will be hoping that they continue in the same vein against Reading. Liverpool and England captain Gerrard is likely to start but may be substituted by Rodgers for this game. Shelvey who made his full international debut in the last game could take his place as the attacking midfielder.

Suarez once again had his scoring boots on for Uruguay and he will look to continue his scoring record in the red shirt of Liverpool. The controversial forward is currently second on the list of highest goal scorers in the league and he remains the main attacking threat for Liverpool. Sterling has established himself as first choice this season and he will be looking to continue his stellar start to the season. Assaidi could feature on the opposite flank although Suso’s excellent showing in the last couple of games may prompt Rodgers to hand him a start.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Jones; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Allen, Sahin, Gerrard; Sterling, Suarez, Assaidi;

Reading

Brian McDermott has done an excellent job with Reading since Rodgers’ departure and has managed to get The Royals back into the top flight. He is likely to persist with a traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Adam Frederici remains an absentee due to injury which means McCarthy would continue in goal. Shorey, Mariappa, Gorkss and Cummings would play as a flat back four for The Royals. The Reading back four has conceded in every game so far and they will be hoping they can shut out Liverpool who are short of attacking options up-front.

Mikele Leigertwood is likely to return to the starting lineup against Liverpool and he will be partnered by Karacan in central midfield. Jobi  McAnuff will be starting on the right wing for Reading and Kebe is expected to take his place on the opposite flank. Reading’s main threat will come from the wings. Leigertwood and Karacan are expected to have a tough day in the office against the three man midfield of Liverpool. Expect Reading to surrender most of the possession to the Reds. The strategy for them, like at Swansea, would be to play as compact as possible and then play on the counter attack.

Pavel Pogrebnyak’s performances had trailed off after a good start to the season. But he looks to have found his scoring touch once again. The Russian was on the mark against both Swansea and QPR and he will be hoping to add to his goals tally. Hunt is expected to support him upfront against the Liverpool defence.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):  McCarthy; Shorey, Mariappa, Gorkss, Cummings; McAnuff, Karacan, Leigertwood, Kebe; Pogrebnyak, Hunt;

Players To Watch Out For

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Liverpool will once again look to Suarez to provide the firepower against Reading. The Uruguayan is the sole recognized striker in Brendan Rodgers’ squad and he shoulders a huge goal scoring responsibility. The Liverpool No. 7 has not disappointed thus far and has already notched up 5 goals to his name. Fans will hope Suarez can add to the goals tally as Liverpool look to get their first 3 points at Anfield.  Expect plenty of nutmegs again from Suarez as he looks to torture the Reading backline.

Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading)

The purchase of the Russian for 6 million was a huge statement of intent from The Royals in their bid to stay in the Premier League. Pogrebnyak has had a sluggish start but has found his goal scoring form. He will be looking to exploit any weaknesses in the Liverpool backline which has been notorious for making errors of late. Reading fans will be hoping he can be the catalyst of what could be vital victory against Liverpool in the clubs fight to stay in the top flight.

Prediction

Liverpool 1- 0 Reading

Liverpool have played some good football without getting the results. A big win at home is always on the cards but after a tough international break, players are likely to be suffering from fatigue. The Reds are in for a tough fight against Reading. This is not likely to be a high scoring game but Liverpool should get their first three points at home.

Blast From The Past