Brendan Rodgers revealed that Liverpool FC forward Daniel Sturridge is in contention to play a part against Norwich City at home. With Coutinho available again in the league and Adam Lallana also returning to the fold, we look at how the Reds can line up in the future with a host of options to choose from.
Rodgers revealed that Sturridge is fit enough and is likely to play a part as the Reds welcome Norwich City to Anfield hoping to put an end to a 4-game win-less streak that threatens to undermine their season.
Brendan Rodgers will be having the complete squad barring Jordan Henderson and Jon Flannagan to chose from for the first time this season with Joe Allen also returning to training. Adam Lallana had already made a fine return to the XI with a quite sublime goal in the 1-1 Europa League draw at Bordeaux.
We look at how the Reds can line up in the coming games once everyone is fit to start.
Mignolet has been pretty solid for the Reds after being dropped from the team due to poor form in December last season. The Belgian made some crucial saves towards the end of the game to help the Reds take away a point from Bordeaux. In the last league outing against United, the Belgian was solid again and seems to have settled into a decent, consistent form even if he hasn’t really been spectacular.
Defenders: Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Gomez
Martin Skrtel remains as inconsistent a defender as ever, in a Red shirt. But such is the state of the defence at Anfield that he cannot be dropped. Maybe Joe Gomez can play in that position, but he is very young and even though he can get away from a few mistakes at fullback positions (already made two errors that led to goals), playing as a central defender where the margin for error is far too less is a different ball game. Moreover, if two of the four defenders are Gomez (CB) and Moreno (LB), the side is expected to be prone to error.
Thankfully, though, Mamadou Sakho was finally given a chance in the midweek and he did what everyone expected a put in an assured performance. Manager Brendan Rodgers, immediately after the game, acknowledged his solid display and said that he is in the contention for the Norwich game. Sakho should not just be in contention; there should be no doubt about him being in the XI given that he is the best central defender by a country mile, Liverpool have.
Midfield: Allen, Milner, Firmino, Coutinho
This is where it starts getting tricky. Liverpool have a host of options to choose from in midfield. However, ‘a defensively conscious yet, good on the ball’ midfield requirement means Allen and Milner should be getting the nod over Lucas or Can.
Coutinho is a firm fixture in the XI being by far the most creative player in the side. The big decision for Rodgers will be to play Adam Lallana or Roberto Firmino. Both the players are quality and while Liverpool faithfuls are yet to see the best of Adam Lallana, the player has shown enough in his time at Southampton that if injuries are to not wreck his season as they did last year, he can be a super player for the Reds, especially given his ability to score goals. Goals are aplenty in Roberto Firmino’s boots as well, given his record in the Bundesliga.
Forwards: Christian Benteke, Daniel Sturridge
Brendan Rodgers has talked about how he is relishing the chance of playing the duo together. And indeed, it is a mouth-watering prospect. Contrary to many Liverpool fansa belief before he arrived, Benteke is no mug with a ball and he has already shown that with his wonder goal at United as well as the belter he scored in the pre-season. Benteke and Sturridge can take turns to play out wide, although one would imagine that it will be Sturridge, given his pace and ability, who will make up the ground in case he falls back, who would be contributing out wide far more than Benteke. However, the duo have goals in them and with the creativity of Henderson, Coutinho, Lallana, Firmino behind them, they should be able to score.
Formation: 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond when attacking, 4-3-3 when defending
How the formation works: While defending, one forward drops in the wide positions to track the attacking fullback till half-line where a midfielder picks the fullback up. The forward does not go so far back that he will have problems to make up the numbers in the counterattack.
As soon as Liverpool receive the ball, he will go up front to join the other forward and make it two up-front with one fullback bombing forward (Clyne) and the other staying put (Gomez). Two attacking midfielders (Coutinho and Firmino), two forwards will attack with speed while a central midfielder (Milner) will make runs from the midfield too with the fullback (Clyne) providing the width.
This is also how Liverpool played with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in the 2013-14 season with the forward taking turns to track the opposition fullback, while Sterling and Coutinho were the two attacking midfielders. Henderson made late runs in the box and also tracked the attacking fullback when Suarez or Sturridge used to leave them after a point with Gerrard sitting deep and staying put. Jon Flannagan used to avoid venturing forward and Glen Johnson would be the one making the run forward.