Liverpool host Newcastle United to Anfield on Sunday afternoon for the final game of what has been an outstanding season. Ben Twelves discusses the squad selection options for Brendan Rodgers which he hopes will include some fresh faces.
A second place finish now looks most likely for Brendan Rodgers’ men, who do still have an outside shot at the Premier League title, but with Man City firmly in the driving seat, it’s going to take a small miracle for the league trophy to return to Merseyside this season.
After a run of 11 straight wins, Liverpool haven’t experienced the sweet taste of victory in their last two games, meaning a win against Newcastle on the closing day of the campaign will want to be achieved even simply for a return to winning ways.
A win over the Geordies would see Liverpool pick up runners-up medals, and even though it’s unlikely to be the ending wanted, the players deserve huge credit for the monumental effort they’ve put in this season.
A strong team is sure to be fielded by Rodgers but in a fixture of little pressure, it could present the manager with an opportunity to introduce some fresh faces to the match-day fold.
Rodgers has had a small core of players from the squad at his disposal this season who have realistically been first choice and first team players. The lack of strength in depth is apparent, something that both makes our title challenge ever more impressive and needs addressing in the looming summer transfer window.
Fringe players such as loanees Aly Cissokho and Victor Moses have failed to impress and are certain to return to their respective parents clubs without the prospect of a permanent switch to Anfield, thankfully.
So while Sunday’s game does carry an importance, it does throw up a perfect opportunity to hand some of the clubs’ own youngsters a chance in the first team squad. Joao Carlos Teixiera has featured previously this season, but has often found himself left out completely. Opportunities could also be afforded to a number of youngsters who have impressed in the respective age groups this season, such as Jack Dunn, who has impressed for the under 21s.
Academy player of the year Jordan Rossiter could cap off a fine week if he was to be included in the match day squad for the third time this season. Youth teamer Cameron Brannagan has also caught the eye playing for both the youth team and under 21s and would be another deserving recipient of a first team call-up.
The starting team could change following Monday nights bitter defeat in south east London, with a potential reintroduction to the side for Daniel Agger.
Jordan Henderson, who has undeniably been missed the past three matches, returns from suspension and should come straight into the midfield replacing the anonymous Lucas Leiva. Philippe Coutinho should also remain amongst the substitutes, especially if his injury hasn’t cleared up completely.
The starting team and substitutes that I would like to see picked on Sunday would see Liverpool’s match-day squad look like this:
Subs: Jones, Skrtel, Rossiter, Coutinho, Ibe, Dunn, Aspas.
However, I think Rodgers’ squad will look like this on Sunday afternoon:
Subs: Jones, Sakho, Lucas, Rossiter, Coutinho, Ibe, Aspas.
Regardless of where Liverpool finish this season after the final set of fixtures have been played, it has undeniably been a fantastic campaign. The countdown to the Champions League group stages is already on and for us to be back competing against Europe’s elite again next season truly is a great feeling.
Next up for Liverpool though, is arguably the biggest test of them all and the need for a very productive transfer window to ensure we keep marching on back to where we belong.