Predicted Liverpool lineup vs Man City: Key trio return

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Liverpool return to Premier League action on midday Sunday for another important match in the race for Champions League qualification. Ben Twelves takes a look at the varying team selection options available to Brendan Rodgers.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 13, 2014: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just over 60 hours after their Europa League exit in Turkey, Rodgers’ tired Reds turn their full focus back to the Premier League and the worst possible fixture as title-chasing Man City arrive at Anfield.

The timing of the game cannot have come at a worse moment for Liverpool, and the squad have to dust themselves down and regroup ahead of the visit of the Champions, who have started to find the form required to catch Chelsea after a patchy period saw them pick up just one point from a possible 12.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 22, 2015: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton with team-mates Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are in excellent form of their own in the league however, and now sit just two points off fourth placed Man United and three points behind third placed Arsenal following seven wins in their last nine games, and having embarked on a huge effort to drag themselves into genuine contention, it’s essential the Reds stay in the mix.

That feat will be easier said than done though of course with the demanding schedule undertaken in recent weeks – which will thankfully decrease somewhat following a second European exit of the season – and Rodgers will certainly have to freshen up his team for the clash in order to allow for that to happen.

 

 

The Team

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 22, 2015: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool manager will be hoping to welcome back a number of players to his depleted squad for the clash including Mamadou Sakho and Jordan Henderson who will be assessed ahead of the game, but Steven Gerrard is once again ruled out.

Jordon Ibe was also withdrawn with a knock in Turkey making him a possible doubt for the clash, but one player Rodgers will certainly have at his disposal is Philippe Coutinho, who received a much welcome rest on Thursday night, and alongside the Brazilian magician, Lazar Markovic is set to return to match-day involvement after also missing Thursday through suspension.

BOLTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 4, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the winning second goal in injury time against Bolton Wanderers during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at the Reebok Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fresh legs will undoubtedly be required to allow the Reds to compete with Manuel Pelligrini’s side and Adam Lallana along with Mario Balotelli will both able to provide a more refreshed pair than most having both been on opposite ends of substitutions in Istanbul.

A number of the XI who played in the Ataturk Stadium could ideally do with a rest though, including Emre Can who looked extremely leggy as the game progressed, as did Joe Allen and the impressive Alberto Moreno.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - Thursday, February 26, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Besiktas JK's Veli Kavlak during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 2nd Leg match at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers will also have to give consideration over Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge’s level of fitness for the game after the pair played all but the second half of extra-time in attack and the Northern Irishman could opt to deploy Balotelli against his former club should either of his attacking partners start from the bench.

 

Liverpool’s Starting XI

Rodgers faces an anxious wait over injuries to key players ahead of the match, but should the senior figures recover in time, the Reds boss could name a strong side for the visit of the Champions.

If the best case scenario materialises with Sakho and Henderson available, as well as Markovic and Coutinho, the four should head straight into the starting team, taking the places of Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren, Jordon Ibe and Mario Balotelli.

Emre Can should drop into the solid back three alongside Martin Skrtel and Sakho, allowing Henderson to recommence his midfield role, Markovic to play on his natural side at right wing-back, and Coutinho to start in the attack with Sterling and Sturridge.

Those changes would see Liverpool’s XI look like this come midday on Sunday:

City line up

There’s a realistic chance however that Rodgers could once again head into a big game with a minimal squad to choose from should those being waited on fail to make it in time.

If Sakho and Henderson aren’t available, their absence should see Kolo Toure and Lovren continue at the back, allowing Emre Can to find his feet again in the middle of the park next to Joe Allen.

The worst case scenario could result in the Reds lining up with only one change to the tired team from Thursday – Coutinho entering for Balotelli – and that would see the Reds look like this against the title-chasers:

City XI 2

It’s as tough a fixture as they come for Rodgers and his squad after their European exploits and the Reds certainly have a big challenge on their hands to ensure that they take another big step towards making the top four.

 

Select your XI:

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