After having experienced the sour taste of defeat for the second time in the English Premier League last weekend, Liverpool’s boss, Brendan Rodgers, will need to rally the troops for the match that will mark the Reds’ return to the UEFA Champions League taking place in the middle of the week. Their opponents, Ludogorets, are practically unknown in Western Europe, but they are certainly ready to cause Liverpool another major upset at Anfield Road.
For the match against the Bulgarian champions, Brendan Rodgers, who was clearly frustrated by the lack of quality and intensity of his team’s game against Aston Villa, will probably promote some changes in the starting line-up and maybe, just maybe, abandon the inconsistent 4-2-3-1 approach he has been trying to implement this season.
GK – Mignolet – The Belgian goalie is certainly not the one to blame for Liverpool’s defensive problems this season. Mignolet has been going through an excellent moment and without facing some proper competition from a goalkeeper with similar quality standards, he will certainly be the number one choice for the rest of the season, both on domestic and on international matches.
RB – Manquillo – No one could certainly have guessed that 20 year old Javi Manquillo would grab a place in Liverpool’s team so quickly, but the injuries from Johnson and Flanagan have certainly rushed his way into the starting line-up and he has been up to the task so far.
CB – Lovren – The Croatian international was not particularly inspired during last weekend’s match against Aston Villa. Despite being one of the best centre backs in European football currently, Lovren’s marking efficiency was frankly low last Saturday, as he often allowed Senderos to win several balls from corner-kicks, one which ended inside Mignolet’s net and ended up dictating the match’s outcome. Nevertheless, he should be the chosen one to pair up with Sahko against Ludogorets.
CB – Sahko – As well as his defensive partner, Sahko was also not very inspired against the Villans. Although, since Skrtel is still sidelined due to injury and Touré does not seem to constitute a real option for Brendan Rodgers, the French international will certainly secure his place at the centre of the defence line next Tuesday.
LB – Alberto Moreno – The young Spanish international is still adapting to his new team’s reality, after arriving from Sevilla during the Summer transfer window, but has already done enough to convince the boss that he is the best man to carry on with the job on the left side of the defence line.
CM – Steven Gerrard – Despite of his age, the iconic Liverpool’s captain is still the most important element of the team’s midfield line. His accurate vision and passing skills offer greater depth to the team’s game, although he seems to be experiencing some difficulties in adapting to Rodgers’ 4-2-3-1 tactical scheme. He is undoubtedly of better use on a 4-3-3 system or in a classic 4-4-2 acting as deep lying playmaker and helping in building up the game from behind.
BBM – Jordan Henderson – The English all-road midfielder is clearly enjoying one of the best moments of his career and there aren’t many doubts left that he will certainly preserve his place at the centre of Liverpool’s midfield line for quite some time.
AP – Coutinho – The flamboyant Brazilian midfielder, who recently returned to his country’s National Team by the hand of the new head coach Dunga, is also going through a fairly positive moment. Coutinho is of great value to the team, especially when acting as a playmaker in front of the midfield triangle or when lurking behind the centre forward as some sort of trequartista.
RW – Sterling – The English youngster’s irreverence might be of great use for the match against Ludogorets next Tuesday, as his excellent dribbling and technique skills might certainly help to open a breach at the Bulgarian champions’ defence line.
LW / IF – Markovic – The versatile Serbian footballer is not yet at his best, but he will surely give Liverpool’s supporters plenty of reasons to smile in the future. On a 4-3-3 system, Markovic might act both as a winger or as an inside forward, offering the team’s poacher a closer support.
CF – Mario Balotelli – The erratic Italian striker was probably one of the team’s most controversial Summer signings and so far, he has failed to take a stand at the team. Replacing someone like Luis Suárez is definitely not easy, but Balotelli needs to at least show a greater commitment in order to convince the demanding Liverpool supporters that he is the right man for the job.