Liverpool FC: A Starting 11 to Hand Defeat to Manchester City at Anfield
Liverpool welcome Manchester City to Anfield this Sunday in a clash that could give clear indicators as to where the reds are headed this season. A disappointing opening day defeat at the hands of West Brom has heaped pressure on Rodgers to clam three points from arguably the best side in British football today.
The pressure is on.
Rodgers must get the tactics right. He must have luck on his side. His players must play their best.
But he also has to pick a starting 11 to be reckoned with.
If I were him (and to some extent I'm glad I'm not), the team walking out of the tunnel early Sunday afternoon would look like this.
This slide hardly needs any justification. Reina is our best shot stopper and as been for over five years.
He may well be busy.
RB: Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson makes the cut ahead of Martin Kelly as he offers more offensively. And though sometimes his attacking instinct opens up the side, his speed is vital, especially attacking. Johnson should also be charged with dealing with the left winger, whether that be Samir Nasri, David Silva or (ironically enough, yet unlikely) Adam Johnson.
A disciplined performance from our right-back is desperately needed.
CB's: Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates
Sebastian Coates partners Martin Skrtel in defence for me.
Martin Skrtel will not travel to play Hearts and therefore is almost certain to play against City. Agger's suspension means a new defensive partner is required, leaving a starting spot available for Kelly, Carragher or Coates, providing Rodgers does not adopt a 3-4-3 formation.
As I said, Coates starts for me as Carragher is a defensive liability, unfortunately. Especially, against the quick play of Manchester City. Kelly could play in the centre, but I imagine he will be on the bench as cover for Johnson.
LB: Jose Enrique
Jose Enrique will miss the Hearts trip due to a knee injury, but is expected to be fit for the weekend. Put simply, other than playing a squad member out of position or too soon, Jose is our only option for the left-back spot.
Not that it's a bad thing.
Enrique needs to kick off this campaign the way he kicked off his debut one and if he does that, Liverpool will be especially hard to break down.
CDM: Lucas Leiva
Lucas Leiva will be pivotal to the game's outcome, as he will be tasked with muting the Manchester City attack wherever possible. Yaya Toure, David Silva and a plethora of City players are all capable of tearing a side apart with one moment of magic, and it will be up to the Brazilian to protect the back four.
He will also need to start attacks, by distributing the ball to the central midfielders. Lucas will be in for a tough day at the office but he is definitely capable of getting through it with flying colours.
CM: Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson
Let me explain.
Brendan Rodgers' tactics rely on keeping possession and quick, short passing movements. Joe Allen has already shown he is up to the task with an outstanding debut, especially in relation to his teammates.
Steven Gerrard however, was not up to the task. He completed just over 80 percent of passes, poor in relation to his midfield teammates who both were above 90 percent. He is not custom built for the short passing role and though he is definitely capable of adjusting to it, Manchester City is not the right game to help him do that.
Don't worry, our skipper does feature.
But Henderson, who is more accustomed to the role, starts if you ask me. Rodgers has already heaped praise on the young lad, saying, "this kid can play football."
So can Joe Allen.
Lucas, Allen and Henderson make up our midfield.
RW: Steven Gerrard
That's what I want to see. Gerrard sprinting down the wing.
He may not be as pacy as he used to be, but he is by no means slow and knows how to put a ball in the box. He is very good offensively, and the fact that none of you need to be told demonstrates how good he can be in the right-wing spot.
In fact, Gerrard played as a winger for some parts of the 2008-09 season where Liverpool came so close to winning the title.
It's been done before, and I think it should be done again.
LW: Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez is a hugely talented footballer in all aspects but one.
He just can't finish.
So, I propose playing him on the wing, where I believe he will be most effective against the City right-back, who is most likely going to be Pablo Zabaleta. Suarez will have a smile on his face at the prospect of finding pockets of space in and around the penalty area and the flanks, which is where he is most effective.
It's a win-win situation.
CF: Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll deserves a start, especially given the performances other players have put in playing in his preferred role. Against City, Carroll will have something to prove, and this extra motivation could give him an extra edge.
Carroll usually does well against City who seem to struggle against aggressive forwards, and with Gerrard, Suarez and Allen assisting him, he would take some stopping in my opinion.
Subs: Jones, Kelly, Adam, Shelvey, Carragher, Assaidi.
There we have it.
I doubt Oussama Assaidi will start his first game in England against the current champions, and factoring in an Anfield-debut factor, it's highly unlikely. It is probable that Stewart Downing will replace him on the bench, though if it were up to me, Downing wouldn't be in the squad.
Thanks for reading!