How Liverpool could line up at Burnley: Will Rodgers rest Gerrard?

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Brendan Rodgers’ improving Liverpool travel to Burnley on Boxing Day for their penultimate fixture of the calendar year, looking to record victory for the first time in four league games. Ben Twelves discusses the team selection options available to the Liverpool manager.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 25, 2010: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE walks out to face Burnley during the Premiership match at Turf Moor. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
April 2010: Liverpool’s captain walks out to face Burnley at Turf Moor. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool make the trip to Premier League newcomers Burnley for this year’s festive Boxing Day fixture at Turf Moor, with the Reds looking to start matching improved performances with an upturn in results.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have started to rediscover the attacking play that made the Reds so exciting to watch last season – despite defensive issues still proving to be Liverpool’s achilles heel – but the superior performances in the last two Premier League fixtures haven’t yet seen the Anfield side pick-up maximum points.

Friday’s match against Sean Dyche’s battling Burnley team would be a perfect starting point for the Reds to turn that feat around, with a run of five more favourable fixtures to follow over the rest of the busy festive period and into the new years that sees Liverpool take on Swansea, Leicester, Sunderland, Aston Villa and West Ham before the second Merseyside derby of the season at Goodison Park.

The hectic schedule should see Rodgers utilise the depth of his squad in order to keep his players as fresh as possible throughout the festive schedule, but with the match against Dyche’s men coming following five days’ rest, the Liverpool manager has good reason to stick with a strong side for the first visit to Turf Moor since a resounding 4-0 victory in April 2010.

 

The Team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 16, 2014: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli scores the first goal against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Injury will keep Glen Johnson and Joe Allen out for the Boxing Day clash along with the remaining long term absentees. Fabio Borini is suspended after his red card against Arsenal last Sunday but fellow countryman Mario Balotelli is set to return to the squad after completing his one match suspension.

Brad Jones is in line to continue in goal despite proving he is no better option than the benched Simon Mignolet over the last three matches, and in front of the Australian, Rodgers is set to stick with the 3-4-3 system that his seen his side’s performance level vastly improve in the last three matches.

Ahead of Jones, the back three of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho should remain the same with there being no need to recall Lovren who has question marks over his availability for the match following his groin injury that kept him out last weekend.

However, Rodgers could make changes to his midfield that has begun the last two consecutive matches, with Steven Gerrard in need of a rest again after playing back-to-back 90 minutes for four matches in a row, and Jordan Henderson far less influential stationed on the right hand side of midfield.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 31, 2014: Liverpool's Alberto Moreno celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Emre Can will be hoping for more minutes in central midfield alongside Lucas Leiva, who should keep his place following a strong performance against Arsenal, though Henderson could alternatively move central to allow for Lazar Markovic to switch to the right and introducing Alberto Moreno on the left.

In attack, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho should once again line up alongside Raheem Sterling in the central striker position, though Rickie Lambert – who came on as a second half substitute against Arsene Wenger’s side – will be hopeful of a return to the starting XI with Balotelli likely to return to the bench.

 

The Line Up

Having spoken in his pre-match press conference of “managing players” to ensure “fresh performances” Rodgers should make two changes to his side for the match, the first of which should see Mignolet brought back into the side, with Jones having proven that he is not a better option between the sticks than the Belgian.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 29, 2014: Liverpool's substitute captain Steven Gerrard during the Premier League match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The second tweak should see Steven Gerrard make way after a busy two weeks wither Emre Can and Alberto Moreno both options to replace the Captain, but it should be the Spaniard who enters the starting XI to allow for Henderson to return to his more influential central role.

Keeping with the new look system, Liverpool should line up like this on Friday afternoon:

Burnley my selection

However, I expect Rodgers to make only one change to the team that were rewarded for a fine performance against Arsenal with an undeserved draw, with Moreno coming into the team for Lazar Markovic, and this is how I expect the Liverpool boss to name his side come kick-off on Friday:

Burnley Rodgers selection guess

Recent performances in the last three matches from Liverpool have been much improved but just rewards for the better displays have evaded Rodgers and his side since the upturn.

Boxing Day is the perfect opportunity to address that frustrating feat and start a winnable run of league fixtures off with maximum points ahead of a crucial part of the season for Liverpool.

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