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Liverpool FC: Picking a Starting XI for the Europa League Matchup with Udinese

Jake WareCorrespondent IIINovember 4, 2016

Liverpool FC: Picking a Starting XI for the Europa League Matchup with Udinese

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    Liverpool take on Udinese at Anfield in their second Europa League group game on Thursday.

    Coming off a 5-3 victory over Young Boys last time out and, more recently, a 5-2 Premier League win over Norwich City, Liverpool are in fine form and should be able to get a result against the struggling Italians.

    With an important game coming up against Stoke City on Sunday, Brendan Rodgers should take the opportunity to rest first-teamers like Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina and Luis Suarez, opening up opportunities for the younger players in the squad.

    Here is a prediction of the first XI for the game. 

GK: Brad Jones

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    Brad Jones started both the Europa League matchup at Young Boys and the Capital One Cup win over West Brom.

    Pepe Reina is still very much first choice in the Premier League, but the Australian Jones deserves his chance in the cups.

LB: Jose Enrique

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    Brendan Rodgers did not mince his words when speaking about the performance of Jose Enrique, but after making 43 appearances last season and being one of the Reds' more consistent players, Enrique deserves a chance to prove his worth.

    He should start at left-back, giving Glen Johnson a breather. 

CB: Sebastian Coates

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    Liverpool's £7 million signing from a summer ago, young Uruguayan Sebastian Coates has rapidly established himself as one of the club's top defensive options as a backup to Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel.

    Coates, who scored in his last Europa League game, should make his fourth appearance of the season.

CB: Jamie Carragher

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    Jamie Carragher has always been a defensive stalwart for Liverpool, and despite his demotion to the substitutes bench, the 34-year-old continues to be an influential veteran in the Liverpool side.

    A start against Udinese would mark Seb Coates' 19th appearance as a Liverpool player. It would be 'Carra's 708th.

RB: Andre Wisdom

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    One of the few non-Liverpool natives in the Reds' youth system, it would seem 19-year-old Wisdom, who, like Coates, scored against Young Boys, has finally established himself as one of Liverpool's key defensive players.

    With Jon Flanagan and Martin Kelly both injured, Andre Wisdom should earn a start despite his appearance on Saturday against Norwich and likely start on Sunday against Stoke.

CDM: Jordan Henderson

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    Jordan Henderson has started all but one (August 9 vs FC Gomel) of Liverpool's competitive non-Premier League matches this season, showing off a hidden side of his game as a defensive midfielder.

    Henderson is one of Liverpool's more underrated players and is proving to be a formidable backup for first XI midfielders. He should be key to Liverpool's prospective success against Udinese.

CM: Jonjo Shelvey

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    Jonjo Shelvey has served two-thirds of his domestic suspension for a straight red card against Manchester United. And with him set to miss the matchup with Stoke on Sunday, he is all but certain to start against Udinese.

    Before the suspension, Shelvey had had a great start to the season. By virtue of a two-goal haul against Young Boys, he had seemingly overtaken Nuri Sahin in the depth chart. Brendan Rodgers will hope his young midfielder continues his impressive play.

CM: Nuri Sahin

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    In terms of pure footballing ability, Nuri Sahin might well be Liverpool's best player.

    Sahin will almost certainly start on Sunday against Norwich, and with three goals in his last two games (as well as three goals and four assists in four games as a Liverpool player), he is in wonderful form. Liverpool do need to win this game, so Sahin should feature. 

LW: Oussama Assaidi

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    Oussama Assaidi has done nothing but impress since joining the Reds from Heerenveen this summer, having made appearances in all three major competitions, and he is slowly seeing his role with the club increase.

    The tricky winger should be one of the players relied upon for offensive production against Udinese.

RW: Stewart Downing

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    Along with Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing was also on the end of Brendan Rodgers' harsh words last week.

    Unless he picks up his work ethic and performance, the £20 million signing from last summer will be on his way out of Anfield.

    But Downing, who already has one goal and two assists through nine games this season (three-quarters his production from last year in more than five times fewer games), will be given every chance to keep his place. That starts against Udinese.

ST: Fabio Borini

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    After picking up an injury against Manchester United, Fabio Borini was rested last week against Norwich. And with fresher legs than his teammates, he could well be in for a start against Udinese.

    Liverpool's big-money-attacker signing has only scored once this season, and the Reds are desperate to get his goalscoring form going. The hope is that with a good performance against Udinese, with maybe a couple of goals, Borini could gain some confidence and start showing his true potential.


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