Coutinho’s injury gives Sterling a chance to shine…
Liverpool take on Southampton in the Premier League today, knowing a win would keep them firmly at the top of the table.
With Luis Suarez only one game away from returning from suspension, and Daniel Sturridge in the form of his life – things are looking rosy at Anfield. However, the unfortunate injury to young Brazilian playmaker Couintho has thrown a spanner in the works for manager Brendan Rodgers.
The 21-year-old has been the creative hub for Liverpool’s brilliant start to the season, but the Reds will now have to adjust team selection and tactics in his absence.
Here’s how we reckon they’ll line up today:
We think Rodgers will pick the same back five that drew to Swansea last time around, meaning Kolo Toure will stay on the bench, with new signing Mamadou Sakho earning his second start in a Red shirt. Club vice-captain Daniel Agger will face a late fitness test, but it is unlikely Rodgers will risk the injury prone defender in a match the Reds would hope to dominate. With Martin Skrtel playing so well in his last two outings against Manchester United and Swansea, the Northern Irish boss should remain faithful to the defender he nearly let go in the summer. Andre Wisdom will continue to deputise for the injured Glen Johnson at right-back, with Jose Enrique taking his regular spot on the left.
The midfield triumvirate of Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson has been Rodgers’ preferred combination all season, and we expect today to be no different. Lucas and Gerrard provide the rest of the team with a solid platform from which to create chances, while Henderson’s energy and enthusiasm is as infectious as it is effective. If these three are on form, expect Liverpool to dominate possession and the chance count at Anfield today.
With the creative hub of the team missing out, Rodgers will be forced to look through his sparse resources to find a replacement. Thankfully for the Northern Irishman, Victor Moses scored on his debut, and gave every indication that he will prove a success at Anfield. We expect him to be given his home debut, playing off the prolific Daniel Sturridge, who has bagged in every Premier League outing this term.
Iago Aspas and Raheem Sterling will effectively go head-to-head in the fight for the vacant position Coutinho’s injury has left.
Aspas came on for the former Inter Milan star during the 2-2 draw at Swansea, but did little to suggest that he can provide Liverpool with anywhere near the same kind of creative spark. At home to Southampton, Liverpool should dominate possession – and could get away with risking youngster Raheem Sterling, who played brilliantly for the under-21s midweek and already looks too good for youth football. Sterling was a surprise inclusion in the England squad for the recent internationals but has been underused by Rodgers so far this term. He is more naturally gifted than Aspas, and is more dangerous going forward – but would be the riskier selection due to his small stature and lack of defensive acumen.