After a fantastic pre-season expectations were raised, but a 3- 0 humbling at the hands of West Brom has sent those expectations plummeting.
Liverpool looked nothing like a side that could challenge for the top four, though it is just the first game and things will certainly improve.
However, the demons of a once-great club nearly run into the ground have reared their heads once again.
Rodgers’ first game in charge couldn’t have gone worse, and next up are the team set to defend their title albeit at Anfield, a tough match nonetheless. Liverpool will need to put their best foot forward if they are to beat the reigning champions and Rodgers will need to improve on a lot of things, and here is a look at where and how the improvements can be made.
Liverpool already have the handicap of Daniel Agger’s absence, after the Dane was sent-off, and Rodgers must get the back line right against arguably the best attack in the league. Jose Enrique should be re-instated as left-back, and as much as it hurts to say it, Jamie Carragher should play no part. Carragher is a fantastic man, a legend at the club, but his age has gotten the better of him and he represents more of a hindrance nowadays. It is a big match and in my opinion Sebastian Coates should get the chance to face City and partner Skrtel at CB ahead of Carragher. Just as much I love him, he’s on the wrong side of 30 now and playing him against the likes of Samir Nasri, David Silva and Carlos Tevez would be insane. Coates is a great defender and is a centre-back by trade, so he should get the nod over Carragher.
Our midfield needs to be on top against City. The midfield trio of Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva was effective during the first half against West Brom, but they faded in the second half and lost control of the game, barely making any incisive passes forward. In all honesty, they never looked capable of pulling the side to victory.
Allen had a decent debut in the league for the Reds, Lucas wasn’t particularly poor, but on his return to the Premier League, he didn’t have an impact on the game defensively, neither did he ever looked in control. He will be up against City’s “magician” David Silva and he would need to do a lot better than what he did at The Hawthorns otherwise things could get a lot worse for Liverpool.
Finally, Gerrard, ever synonymous with inspirational performances, disappointed the most out of the three. He was guilty of over-complication and gave away possession too easily a lot more than he’s accustomed to. Though Gerrard doesn’t always have a bad day and even if he does, he never repeats the same thing in the next match, he will still need to be at his best. Out of the three midfield options that the Reds have, Gerrard without a doubt is the most creative and a lot of their attacks will depend on his performance.
The wingers went missing as the game progressed. Fabio Borini had a below average game and did not make any impact on the game and Stewart Downing, I am still wondering why does he still gets the chance. In short they need a wake-up call. Get in the game. They need to influence the game from the wings and would be the best option for the Reds if Mancini opts to play with two defensive midfielders. They need to find space for themselves and work harder to get the ball coming to them, if not the Reds will have a major problem in breaking the City defence.
Luis Suarez is a great dribbler and a great player no doubt, he makes things happen that are seemingly impossible – but he’s not the best finisher. In my opinion he’s more of a creator than a finisher and it’d be wise to play big Andy for the big match and let him do the finishing, and Suarez and Borini on the either side to create havoc around the City defence and provide Carroll the passes.
Liverpool must play their full-strength side against City. For me, that side looks like this:
Reina, Johnson, Coates, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Allen, Lucas, Gerrard, Suarez, Borini, Carroll.
No new signings at the time of writing, so if possible, Rodgers could also use Assaidi in the second half and replace either Borini or Carroll. Andy Carroll has a record of terrorizing City, and to be honest, he deserves a chance to play against them. This would also make an exciting first-time test for the forward trio and a huge chance for Carroll, or anyone for that matter to impress Rodgers.
Liverpool can beat City at Anfield, in fact I believe that Liverpool can beat any team at Anfield. They just need to get the confidence level up and also find the back of the net more than they do now. Whichever way the game goes this Sunday, it surely promise to be an exciting affair and if Liverpool get the aforementioned things right, they can surely get their points tally started against the reigning champions.