A Possible 3-4-3 for Liverpool vs. Chelsea
Liverpool have a dearth of options at striker.
Andy Carroll is out on loan and Fabio Borini is sidelined with injury until 2013.
That leaves Luis Suarez and Samed Yesil as the only true strikers left as options. Yesil is 18 and is yet to feature regularly; Suarez is arguably better suited for the wide forward roles.
Thus, it might make sense that Liverpool try something slightly innovative to give Chelsea a different look on Sunday. Perhaps lining up as usual and putting the entire burden on the Uruguayan is not the best course.
Why not try the 3-4-3?
The formation, seen notably at Napoli, might catch the Blues off guard. Further, it arguably suits the Reds personnel better to begin with.
Here are the XI who might make it work. The slides also include the reasons why.
Pepe Reina is reportedly unlikely to be fit until the Wigan clash next weekend.
That puts the Australian between the posts for another week. Brad Jones has performed admirably in Reina's absence and gets a big opportunity to prove his worth here Sunday.
Sebastian Coates—Martin Skrtel—Daniel Agger
The 3-4-3 is outstanding because it offers anywhere from three to five options in the back at any one time.
Three center-backs form the core of the defense.
If both full-backs push forward, the outside defenders push wide as cover. When the full-backs stay at home, they constitute the core of a five-man defense.
Thus, Liverpool will have five defenders when Chelsea are at their attacking best. Conversely, the likes of Glen Johnson are given more license to roam and create, free of defensive inhibition.
Andre Wisdom—Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson is to return this weekend, and it's not a moment too soon.
The respective popularity of Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing continues to wane. Jon Flanagan and Jack Robinson have done little.
Further, Andre Wisdom is coming along, but he is still inexperienced for a match of this magnitude.
It helps to have a top-class option like Johnson on the other side.
The English international is tailor-made for the Christian Maggio role made famous at Napoli.
Johnson's support-play on the wing keeps a defender on the field while arguably adding the same quality of attacking play as Oussama Assaidi or Suso could offer at this stage.
Joe Allen—Nuri Sahin
Sahin and Seth Myers look-a-like Joe Allen form the important part of this formation.
While the 3-4-3 adds adaptability all over the pitch, it often leaves two in the midfield exposed. In response, I think the midfield is Liverpool's strongest area at this point in the campaign.
Sahin is coming along, and Allen's pass completion rate is highly impressive.
It will be tough at times. But I think these two can match up against the likes of John Obi Mikel, Ramires and Juan Mata.
Steven Gerrard—Raheem Sterling
Here's where it gets interesting.
Steven Gerrard did not play midweek and will not have to play again for six days. So why not give him a run up front?
No one on Merseyside understands Suarez as well as "Captain Fantastic." Putting him in the right-central forward area gives him the freedom to assist his teammate while disavowing him of full midfield duties.
In a match that he will be up for against Chelsea, that could be dangerous.
I also like the thought of Sterling on the edge of the box with both Gerrard and Suarez available to play the ball into.
Is his goal conversion rate (14 percent) low? Sure.
However, with no alternatives in place, he is now second in the Premier League in goals scored.
That puts him behind only Robin van Persie. Not bad company.
Give him a more versatile Gerrard and a more forward-leaning Johnson and Liverpool may just be able to nick some points from an in-form Chelsea side.