This season has proven to be a struggle for Liverpool, the team has only won 2 or their last 5 games. Injuries and defensive breakdowns have been the main cause of many of the issues that reveal themselves each game. This is also the first season that Brendan Rodgers has had to deal with Champions League football, a challenge that prevents players from getting the ideal amount of rest. With another international break looming, the upcoming match against West Brom is the ideal time for Liverpool to get back on track. Rodgers has been using the 4-2-3-1 recently, but the results have more or less been the same as when he used the 4-3-1-2.
Simon Mignolet is still the undisputed number 1 goalkeeper for Liverpool. Once again, the lone goal the team conceded in the loss against Basel came from a corner, one of the many defensive issues that have plagued the Reds this season. Hopefully, the Belgian will be able to keep a clean sheet against a non-threatening West Brom front line, that only features one player with more than one goal in Saido Berahino.
Despite starting the past few days, Rodgers pretty much has no other choice but to start Javier Manquillo. Glen Johnson may be available to play, but he has not been the most impressive player for the Reds during the times he played. The Spaniard has good speed for someone of his size and this has allowed him to knock opponents off the ball while defending and keeping the ball when attacking.
With Mamadou Sakho possibly out due to injury, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren will probably be the pair to man the center of the defense. Rodgers has yet to find the ideal pairing to protect the back line and this has lead to the team conceding many foolish goals. Miscommunication has been a major problem this year, somebody has to step up and take charge in order to prevent the team from falling behind early.
Alberto Moreno, should be able to return to the lineup after being replaced by Jose Enrique in the last match. Liverpool is much more dynamic with Moreno in the lineup. His speed and crossing ability is an effective weapon against any opponent. He will most likely be facing two, young English players in Andre Wisdom and Berahino, hopefully he will be able to exploit their relative inexperience.
Steven Gerrard, the captain proved that he could still make an impact with his wonderful free kick against Everton. However, there are times when he can be exploited by a quick and shifty midfield. He is not the ideal type of player to shield the back four when Liverpool is being pushed back, however, the only other alternate seems to be Lucas, a player who has only made 3 appearances this season. Jordan Henderson is one of the most essential players on the squad, his passing and leadership are key cogs is the Liverpool system. The vice-captain is as low maintenance as they come, as long as he is not injured.
After coming on for Philippe Coutinho in the last match, Adam Lallana may start against West Brom. The former Southampton player came on with energy, but he has yet to make an impact on his new team. Even though he deserves a break, Raheem Sterling will probably continue to be used by his manager every opportunity he has. Sterling is a fantastic player who is capable of winning a match on his own, however, he has often been left on his own when trying to break down opponent’s defenses. If Daniel Sturridge comes back, we may see the true power of the Liverpool attack, one that hopefully, will mirror the offense from last year.
Mario Balotelli has been disappointing in his time at Merseyside so far. With only one goal to his name, he has failed to be the spark that Liverpool needed after losing Luis Suarez. However, it may hurt Balotelli’s form even more if he is benched for one of Fabio Borini or Rickie Lambert. If Sturridge is still not healthy, one of those strikers should replace the ineffective Lazar Markovic in the starting 11.