Liverpool will host Chelsea next Sunday at Anfield in a key match that might define the winner of the Premier League, since the Reds are at the top of the table five points above the Blues. In my opinion, Brendan Rodgers will make only one substitution with respect to the last game, the 3-2 victory over Norwich City.
I think that the goalkeeper and the whole defense will be the same as the last matches, with Simon Mignolet in the goal, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Škrtel in the centre back, Glen Johnson in the right back and John Flanagan in the left. There isn’t any recently injured player and I believe that there’s no reason for a change.
The main – and perhaps only – problem for Brendan Rodgers is the absence of midfielder Jordan Henderson, who saw the red card after a tackle on Samir Nasri in the last minute of the match against Manchester City and has been banned for three games (Norwich City last weekend, the next one against Chelsea and Crystal Palace on May 5).
Henderson is a key player in Rodgers’ scheme, and in the last match he was replaced by Lucas Leiva as Philippe Coutinho played in attack along with Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling, because Daniel Sturridge got injured against Manchester City and wasn’t available for the Norwich City clash.
In that game, Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen completed the midfield, and I think Rodgers would lineup the same midfield against Chelsea if Sturridge is still injured. But it seems that Sturridge will be available on Sunday, as he said: “Hopefully this weekend I’ll be back, I’m not too sure if he’ll play me or not. We’ll have to see.” [source]
In my opinion, the boss won’t doubt about it, and Sturridge will return to the lineup, since he’s a very important player and his partnership with Suárez is very important for the Reds, and also because they face Chelsea, a direct opponent in the fight for the title, so it’s very important for Liverpool to win on Sunday.
Furthermore, the following games are against Crystal Palace and Newcastle, two rivals that are theoretically ‘easier’ that Chelsea, so there is worth risking Sturridge against the Blues even if that means that he might not play the other two matches.
That being said, I think that Coutinho will return to the midfield, along with Gerrard and Allen, while Suárez, Sturridge and Sterling will be the three strikers.
My lineup prediction (4-3-3): Mingolet; Johnson, Škrtel, Sakho, Flanagan; Coutinho, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling, Sturridge, Suárez.