A peculiar feature of Liverpool’s difficult away games under Brendan Rodgers is his tendency to completely change his side’s formation at half-time: away at Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United he’s dramatically altered his side after an underwhelming first-half performance. Now, especially after the weekend embarrassment at Oldham, he’s under pressure to get it right from the start.
Following the arrival of Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini’s return from injury, plus Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson’s good form, Rodgers has plenty of experienced players to call upon. As a result, Raheem Sterling will predominantly be a substitute for the rest of this season, while Suso is no longer a regular, and instead on the periphery of the squad.
Sterling, Borini and Joe Allen were omitted from the side that convincingly defeated Norwich 5-0 at Anfield ten days ago, and none did anything against Oldham to suggest they deserve a place in the side for the trip to Arsenal. Sterling would be a risk defensively, Borini isn’t yet 100% fit following his injury lay-off, while Allen has been in poor form.
The natural approach would see Rodgers revert to the side that faced Norwich: Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard sitting deep, then Downing, Henderson and Luis Suarez behind Sturridge. But will Rodgers be brave enough to play that system at the Emirates, considering Arsenal’s tendency to dominate possession? I can’t help feeling that he’ll will want some extra passing quality in the centre of the pitch, and might start Allen: this is surely a game made for him, despite his recent form.
That would probably mean Henderson dropping to the bench, with Downing on the left and Suarez cutting inside to join Sturridge. With so many versatile options, Rodgers’ tinkering is understandable, but he needs to get things right at Arsenal.
This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.