24 January, 2015; 17: 30 GMT
Liverpool face Bolton this weekend in the fourth round of the FA Cup that will see the return of Emile Heskey to Anfield.
Liverpool come into this game after a brilliant performance against Chelsea in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi final. Even though the Reds only drew the game, their performance was outstanding and they would be in good mood and tempo for the game against Championship side Bolton Wanderers. Brendan Rodgers would also like to give some of his players a breather in this game. He would definitely have one eye on the second and very crucial second leg against Chelsea on Tuesday night and some of the regular starters could get rest for the next game. Joe Allen and Glen Johnson are back after a lengthy gap and could both feature in this game.
Rodgers’ 3-4-2-1 has paid dividends and we would see the formation continue. Simon Mignolet would continue in goal. In the defence, Glen Johnson could return to the back three and Martin Skrtel could probably be rested. Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho would continue. Dejan Lovren could also be given a chance to make amends for his poor showings if he is match-fit. Atletico Madrid loanee Javier Manquillo was performing better than the rest of his teammates when Liverpool were going through a terrible run of form two months back. The 20 year old started the previous round against AFC Wimbledon and would come into the side for Lazar Markovic. In the midfield we could see Joe Allen return and replace Lucas, a very important member of the side who could use some rest. Jordan Henderson would captain the side and start alongside him. Brendan Rodgers has insisted academy youngster Jordan Rossister would be involved in the game, but it is difficult to imagine him starting it. The highly rated Scouse could probably be brought on in the second half if Liverpool are in a comfortable position.
Jose Enrique would start as the left wing-back and replace Alberto Moreno. In the attack, ideally Philippe Coutinho could use some rest, but with Steven Gerrard probably getting that for the Chelsea game, the young Brazilian would continue (his great run of form) alongside Adam Lallana. Any of Liverpool’s available strikers could use a game like this and all three have a lot to prove for different reasons. However, one might see Raheem Sterling continue in his false nine role. He scored a brilliant goal for the Reds against Chelsea and has clearly benefited from the official two week break he was assigned by the Liverpool management.
Liverpool need to ensure they win this game and continue their momentum. A win would definitely bring a lot of confidence to the squad as they prepare for the Chelsea game next Tuesday.
Bolton currently sit in the fifteenth place in the Championship and come into this game at the back of a win over Sheffield Wednesday. The Trotters have done very well since Neil Lennon took the reigns and have lost only 1 of their last 12 in all competitions.
Max Clayton is still out for the Wanderers, but Bolton do have injury boost as the likes of Kevin McNaughton, Mark Davies and Joe Mason are expected to be back for this big game. Craig Davies has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Neil Lennon has built up his reputation as a manager who can adapt for different occasions. The former Celtic manager has been tinkering with the Trotters team since he was appointed boss of the side so its not easy to guess who he would opt for in this game. However, he wouldn’t want to make big changes from the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.
In a 4-2-3-1 or a diamond(ish) formation, we would continue to see Dorian Dervite, Matt Mills, David Wheater and Tim Ream in the defence with Andy Lonergan continuing in goal. In the last 12 matches they have conceded more than once on only one occasion so Lennon would continue to trust this defence which has caused a number of Championship sides a lot of problems and would hope the same can be done against the Reds. In the midfield, we would see Liam Feeney – who would be in confident mood having scored a goal for Lennon’s side last week – Neil Danns and Josh Vela. Bolton’s other goalscorer from the Sheffield Wednesday game, Darren Pratley would start in the number 10 role. It looks to be a veteran strike partnership for the visitors as Eidur Gudjohnson looks set to partner former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey up front with Davies being ruled out with a hamstring problem.
Bolton would obviously want to be giant killers and win against Liverpool who have looked vulnerable on more than a few occasions this season.
Predicted Line-up (4-3-1-2): Lonergan; Dervite, Mills, Wheater, Ream; Feeney, Danns, Vela; Pratley; Gudjohnson, Heskey
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 9 competitive games, winning 6 of those.
- The sides last met in January 2012 in a league fixture at Bolton with Wanderers winning 3-1. That victory for Bolton is their only success against the Reds in the last 11 meetings, with Liverpool winning 10.
- Bolton were the first winners of the cup at Wembley, doing so in the ‘White Horse’ Final of 1923.
Player to watch out for:
Emile Heskey (Bolton Wanderers)
At 37 years of age, Heskey makes a return to Anfield. The veteran forward scored 60 goals in 223 appearances in all competitions during his time at Liverpool and would be one to watch out in this game. Having registered a goal and an assist since his short term deal with the Trotters signed in December, Heskey can cause the Liverpool defence problems. Players tend to get the adrenalin they crave against their old teams and it can be the case for Heskey too.
Liverpool 2 Bolton 1
Liverpool should win this game and even though Liverpool’s defence has become better of late, many of the regulars including Lucas and Skrtel are expected to be rested and hence Bolton would be able to scare the hosts a few times.