Lucas will likely come in and anchor the side, pushing Gerrard further forward…
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Liverpool sensationally beat Manchester City in the Premier League during Sunday’s blockbuster encounter, but it was at a serious cost…
Midfield dynamo Jordan Henderson got sent off in the dying minutes of the game, and will be banned for three matches.
20 goal striker Daniel Sturridge also limped off early in the second half with a suspected hamstring injury, and although the extent of the problem isn’t yet known, it seems very unlikely that he’ll be starting next week against Norwich.
Here’s how Liverpool have lined up recently, with both Sturridge and Henderson included…
In this XI, captain Steven Gerrard anchors the side in a quarterback role, which enables Coutinho and Jordan Henderson to bomb forward and join in with the attack.
Further forward, Raheem Sterling plays at the top of the diamond, while Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have free reign of the final third, often moving to the flanks to find space.
Now though, Rodgers is going to have to switch it up, knowing that anything but victory in Liverpool’s next four matches will probably put the race for the title back in either Chelsea or Manchester City’s favour.
The key to Liverpool’s success this season though has been the fluidity and tactically adaptability of the attack, and the absence of Henderson and Sturridge will no doubt put this to the test…
Here’s how we expect Rodgers to adapt to the absence of two of his star players…
With Liverpool’s squad paper thin anyway, we expect Rodgers to bring in experienced Brazilian Lucas and diminutive Welshman Joe Allen in place of Henderson and Sturridge. Iago Aspas could be used as a direct replacement for Sturridge, but he’s not shown this season he has anywhere near the required ability to do so.
Lucas and Allen are midfielders, and as Sturridge is a centre-forward, players’ roles in the side are likely to change.
Lucas can only really play as a deep anchoring midfielder, while Steve Gerrard is much more versatile. This means the experienced Brazilian will probably play the deep midfield role, pushing Gerrard forward into Henderson’s combative central position.
Sturridge provides the side pace and directness up top, which wonderkid Raheem Sterling could easily offer as well. With Sterling given licence to roam the final third further forward, he could easily perform Sturridge’s duties in coming matches, especially as he’s playing so superbly right now.
This means his role at the top of the diamond is free, but Coutinho is a natural playmaker, and is arguably most comfortable in this role anyway. As a result, the 21-year-old could play the no.10 spot, giving Joe Allen the creative role in the midfield three.
Essentially then, by bringing in Allen and Lucas, the team’s shape doesn’t change, although Gerrard will be required to do more running and offer more in an attacking sense. Sterling doesn’t have the goalscoring pedigree of Sturridge, although the side could benefit in that Luis Suarez will likely be allowed to play more centrally in Sturridge’s absence.