Having lost the last two games in the Premier League; the match this weekend against crosstown rivals, Everton, is yet another must win situation for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool. A lengthy midweek penalty win against Middlesbrough once again showed that Liverpool would have to improve tremendously if the club wants to compete for the title once again. The squad has had trouble breaking down sides that focus on defending. On the bright side, Everton has not beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1999. Maybe, Liverpool will be able to exploit the space created by an offensive minded Toffees squad.
Simon Mignolet, no reason to change him even though he has conceded a large amount of goals the past few games. These goals have come from a combination of bad defending of set pieces, mostly corners, and of being caught off-guard by a quick counter-attack.
With Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan out, Javier Manquillo will continue to prowl the right side of the field for Liverpool. The youngster has already played so more minutes than most people expected after moving to Merseyside. There have been a few mistakes that he has committed that could have resulted in more goals, but he should get better as he gains more experience in the Premier League.
Dejan Lovren survived a scare during the last game against West Ham where he clashed heads with Mamadou Sakho and remained down for a few minutes. He was able to return to the game after treatment and hopefully, he has put that behind him as it would be extremely unfortunate if he is added onto the lengthy list of injured players. While the pair has not produced the type of defense that League winning sides posses, they have also been left alone to defend against the opponents since many of the players in front of them fail to track back, as Grantland’s Mike Goodman pointed out in his article.
Alberto Moreno, should retain his place on the left side of the defense. The Spaniard is the best candidate Rodgers has for the position, with only Jose Enrique as the other option. He has blazing speed that allows him to shuttle back and forth between offense and defense. He could definitely show-off his attacking prowess is this next match.
Steven Gerrard, will likely be stationed once again in front of the defense and he will have to be alert against an Everton that features an on form Steven Naismith and Romelu Lukaku. Jordan Henderson will hopefully be healthy as he sustained yet another injury. He is an essential member of the team with not only his energy, but also his vision; he already has two assists this season. Adam Lallana will look to solidify his place in the starting lineup with an impressive performance against the rivals. He has not made his presence felt so far in the games he has played.
One of the more interesting results of the match against Middlesbrough is that Raheem Sterling played all 120 minutes. Even though he is young and full of energy, he could eventually burn out if Rodgers continues to play him that much. Once again, Philippe Coutinho is left out of the lineup. He did pickup an injury and did not feature midweek, but if healthy, he could definitely start ahead of Lallana or Sterling, if the latter is being rested.
Daniel Sturridge could return this weekend and it would be a perfect boost for a rather lethargic Liverpool attack. If he does not return, Fabio Borini could start beside Mario Balotelli and his new hairstyle. Both Borini and Balotelli have something to prove, that Liverpool could still field a powerful frontline without Sturridge. Hopefully, scoring against Everton will lead to a run of form for the Italian striker.