It wasn’t pretty, but Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool finally got back on track with a victory over Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup. However, there is no time to enjoy the win with a match against sixth-place Arsenal this weekend. The Gunners are coming off back-to-back 4-1 wins against Galatasaray and Newcastle and have been boosted by the return of striker Oliver Giroud.
Against Bournemouth, the Liverpool players performed with great confidence and finally looked like they had some chemistry. With two goals, Raheem Sterling was the standout performer for the team but Lazar Markovic was arguably the best player for the Reds.
The team as a whole looked more comfortable with the 3-4-3 formation that Rodgers used but that could have been more a result of the quality of the opponents rather than the Liverpool players themselves. It looks like Rodgers will be sticking with that formation for the time being, however, he will have to caution his players against being careless against a quick and decisive Arsenal attack.
Brad Jones has seemingly taken over the position from Simon Mignolet for the time being. Even though Mignolet has been pretty terrible this season, fans should still be worried about having a player who has never been more than a backup as the only thing standing between the goal and the fearsome attack of Arsenal.
Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Dejan Lovren looked fairly confident against the Championship side but there were a few nervous moments during the second half.
While all three can be great defenders, they do tend to get caught ball-watching and this allows an opposing player to get behind them. If they continue this, they will get exploited by quality opponents in Alexis Sanchez, who has nine goals this season, and Giroud, who has four.
Jordan Henderson was not at his best against Bournemouth but he did provide a great assist for Sterling’s first goal. If returns to this spot in the lineup, he will be the first line of defense against Sanchez. His energy will be useful against the Chilean superstar but that means he will not be able to be as influential on the offensive side of the ball.
Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva will have the very difficult task of slowing down a quick Arsenal midfield. All of them are good passers and are able to influence the game in many ways. However, they are not the most physical group of players and this could be an advantage for Liverpool since Lucas is one of the best enforcers in the Premier League.
Gerrard could struggle to impact the game if he is forced to chase the Arsenal players around the pitch, that is why it should be a top priority for the entire Liverpool squad to keep possession of the ball when they have it.
Lazar Markovic bounced back well from his sending off against Basel with a performance that featured great runs and smart positioning. He also scored his first goal for Liverpool with a clinical strike from outside the box. Against Arsenal, he will likely be going up against new signing Calum Chambers who has been playing with confidence.
The quick forward line of Philippe Coutinho, Sterling and Adam Lallana finally played with great chemistry against Bournemouth.
They passed well and were incredibly unselfish and this led to multiple openings in the Bournemouth defense. Against the Gunners, the pace of these three players should be able to take advantage of the relative lack of speed of Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal.
Via – Lineup Builder