Liverpool have experienced a stuttering start to the new season and have already been on the end of four losses in all competitions.
Having come within two points of their first league title in 24 years during the last campaign, many expected much of the same this time around.
Brendan Rodgers required the services of nine new players during the summer, adding much needed strength and depth to his small squad. More importantly he looked to address the defensive issue that arguably cost his side the illusive Premier League crown.
However, the inevitable loss of prolific goal scorer and talisman Luis Suarez is just one of the reasons why the Anfield outfit have struggled so far.
Rodgers now looks set to have a selection headache for all of the wrong reasons. It would seem as if the Reds are now blessed with a much deeper and stronger squad but with a real lack of form and a series of high profile injuries, Liverpool are in desperate need of a morale boosting win.
So with a full fit squad, what is Liverpool’s best starting XI? It’s not an easy task given the options now at his disposal but the diamond (4-1-2-1-2) looks to be the favoured formation.
Goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet
With Pepe Reina being shipped out to Bayern Munich earlier in the summer, Simon Mignolet looked to be the clear No. 1 at Anfield. However, the Belgium international has come in for huge criticism in recent weeks for his poor early season form. Rumors in the press have also suggested that Rodgers is looking at the possibility of signing free agent Victor Valdes, who would provide the perfect competition for places.
Right Back – John Flanagan
With Glen Johnson unlikely to be offered a new contract and therefore seemingly on his way out of Anfield, John Flanagan and Javier Manquillo will battle it out for the right back spot. Having broken in to the first team last season, the Liverpool born defender will be hoping to regain his spot once he returns from injury.
Centre Back – Mamadou Sakho
Sakho or Skrtel? Both centre backs have been given ample opportunities to stake their claim to be a regular in the Liverpool, defence but neither have taken their chances. Skrtel was again at fault for the goal in a 1-0 loss at Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday night. However Sakho stormed out of the Merseyside derby after finding out he wasn’t in the starting XI. Rodgers has to stick with one paring to find the consistency the defence desperately needs.
Centre Back – Dejan Lovren
Having impressed in an over achieving Southampton side last season, Rodgers splashed out £20m on the versatile defender in the hope that he could stop the rot in the Reds defence. The Croatian international is strong in the air and will bring leadership and more importantly a strong voice to a shaky back line.
Left Back – Alberto Moreno
The left back spot has been Liverpool’s achilles heel ever since John Arne Riise left the club. Glen Johnson proved his worth in what could only be described as his unfavored position and Jose Enrique is only just returning from a serious injury. What Alberto Moreno will provide is a long-term solution and an added bit of quality in both attack and defence.
Centre Defensive Midfield – Steven Gerrard
Despite criticism from some quarters, the 34-year-old is still by far the best player in the Liverpool squad and is the leader of the team. His experience is invaluable and has maintained that exceptional long-range passing which sets him apart from many others in the league. The skipper has to be the first name on the team sheet.
Left Centre Midfield – Adam Lallana
Rodgers’ most expensive signing of the summer looks as if he is settling in to life at Liverpool after a tough start to his career on Merseyside. Having been ruled out for six weeks during a pre season tour of America, Lallana is now getting back to the levels he reached last season at Southampton. Having earned his first England call up and a trip to Brazil for the World Cup this summer, the St Albans born midfielder will be looking to excel in both the Premier League and Champions League for the Reds.
Right Centre Midfield – Jordan Henderson
The new vice captain has had a massive turn in fortunes over the last few seasons and is now an integral part of the setup at Anfield. Having responded to his manager’s pre-season comments, Henderson looks to be playing in a more advanced role, aiming to add goals and assists to his game. And with his ‘unlimited engine’ the 24-year-old also adds a box-to-box dimension to the team.
Attacking Midfielder – Raheem Sterling
Having adapted his game to become a hybrid attacking midfielder and striker, Raheem Sterling can play in a variety of positions in this team. His positional intelligence and movement have come a long way since Brendan Rodgers took charge at Liverpool and the Northern Irishman started playing him in a much more tactically demanding central role. With the ability to also cover in a wider role, Sterling also puts in an outstanding defensive shift, and in this line-up he has the freedom to drift between the midfield and forward lines.
Left Striker – Mario Balotelli
Mad Mario. What else is there to say? Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and now Liverpool are the latest club to take on the huge gamble. Not many people doubt his ability, but when it comes to attitude, work rate and appetite, there are still serious questions to be answered. After a poor start to his career at Anfield, cumulating in a lackluster performance in the Champions League midweek, Rodgers has been quoted as saying “Balotelli was the best we could get”. Interesting. However, it would be unfair to judge the Italian until he’s had chance to settle in and form a partnership with Daniel Sturridge.
Right Striker – Daniel Sturridge
Pace, power, dribbling and finishing. Daniel Sturridge has it all. He’s what makes this team tick and more importantly, he’s the one that will make Balotelli click as well. His movement and ability to get beyond the last man is what will create room for his attacking partners. If Luis Suarez is the past then Sturridge is very much the future. His goals to game ratio is up there with the greats of the game but it’s now time for the Englishman to prove himself as a true Kop legend.
100+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $29.99/mo. for fubo Español Package
- Watch Premier League, LaLiga, Liga MX & MLS
- Includes NBC, NBCSN, ESPN, FS1, FS2, TUDN, beIN SPORTS and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch LaLiga, Primeira Liga and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $5.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/mo.)
- Features Serie A, Bundesliga, FA Cup, EFL & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $5.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Europa League & NWSL
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more