How Liverpool should lineup against Crystal Palace on Sunday

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After a 15 day break, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon when they head south to take on Neil Warnock’s struggling Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 17, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions to Raheem Sterling during the Premier League match against Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 

The respite since the defeat to Chelsea will have given the Reds time to regroup, but all positive feeling ahead of a big effort to turn the season around over the upcoming fixtures has been lost, following the news that Daniel Sturridge is now out for a further six weeks after frustratingly breaking down once again in training, at a time where his return looked imminent.

The news comes a huge blow to Rodgers who would have been hoping that the England striker’s return could inspire a turnaround of results, but his side will now have to do it the hard way and without their most prized asset available for an absolutely crucial part of the season.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Southampton FC

Liverpool are on a miserable run of three straight losses in all competitions and having shown an incredible amount of faith in certain players for the visit of Chelsea but once again losing at Anfield – overlooking those impressive performers in Madrid – Rodgers will be under big pressure to change something within his team’s set up on Sunday to grab a desperately needed three points.

 

The Team

Little has changed on the injury front for Rodgers, with Sturridge, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho and Suso all still unavailable and all eyes will be on his team selection for the third match in a row after those players he showed such faith in slumped to another defeat at Anfield last time out.

With pressure mounting on the Liverpool boss, changes to the team are now something that can no longer be ignored and must be implemented with immediate effect.

MADRID, SPAIN - Tuesday, November 4, 2014: Liverpool's Kolo Toure in action against Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With that in mind, Kolo Toure will certainly be hoping for a recall having unfairly made way for Chelsea’s visit as will Javier Manquillo, and Lucas Leiva too will be hopeful that Rodgers drops his blind faith in underperforming players and hands him a chance.

Rodgers has plenty of midfield options available now Jordan Henderson has been declared fit to play, but there is a battle for spaces with Emre Can, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho all hopeful of being trusted with a starting place.

Adam Lallana and Lazark Markovic haven’t featured much recently, but both will be looking to be trusted in the attacking midfield areas though they face a battle to start, as they continue to struggle to make an impact since arriving in the summer.

In attack, it’s a different story for the Liverpool boss with Mario Balotelli set to be assessed ahead of the clash. Therefore Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert will be hopeful of being handed an opportunity to perform – with Rodgers saying Lambert could feature – but with both as well as Liverpool’s £16million Italian struggling for form, playing Raheem Sterling as a striker could be a better option.

 

The Line Up

The time has come for Rodgers to finally end his persistence with under performers, and for that reason there should be two changes to the dysfunctional back four – those being that Javier Manquillo and Kolo Toure should come into the defence ahead of Glen Johnson and Dejan Lovren.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 17, 2014: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren in action against Southampton during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The current situation means that the Liverpool manager has to revisit what works best, and that, as everyone knows, is the diamond shaped midfield. Gerrard should sit at the bottom, with the energetic pairing of Henderson and Can ahead of him to compete in the physical midfield battle.

Philippe Coutinho should occupy the position at the tip of the midfield shape in behind a strike pairing of Balotelli, if fit, and Raheem Sterling in the Liverpool attack.

Those changes to the side should see Liverpool’s first choice line up look like this on Sunday afternoon:

palace first choice

However, Rodgers has hinted pre-match that  Lambert could be set for more minutes, despite  Borini playing himself above the 32-year-old in the pecking order – and if so, he should into the line up alongside the mobile Sterling rather than cutting an isolated and lonely figure like Balotelli.

That slight alteration would mean this would be the team:

palace lambert

Rodgers continues to favour the unsuited 4-2-3-1 formation for reasons unknown though, and with that, this is how I’d expect Liverpool to line up on Sunday afternoon – providing Balotelli is fit or if Lambert comes in to replace the Italian:

4-2-3-1 palace lambert

The bold and brave changes can no longer be ignored, and Rodgers must make them to his underperforming team in order to spark a transformation in fortunes on the pitch, as Liverpool enter an absolutely crucial part of the season.

Performances and results have to change quickly before those ahead pull away and out of sight, and despite the fixture being a tough one as always for the Reds at the atmospheric Selhurst Park, Sunday presents the perfect chance for the revival to begin.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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