How Liverpool Will Line Up Against West Ham United

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

How Liverpool Will Line Up Against West Ham United

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    Liverpool host West Ham on Saturday in their third game inside seven days. So far, it's been one embarrassing defeat and one sensational performance from Luis Suarez.

    Which Liverpool will be on display at Anfield when Sam Allardyce's side provide the opposition could depend on who Brendan Rodgers chooses to start and there are a fair few selection choices for the manager.

    This match last season ended in a 0-0 draw. Liverpool will be hoping for a better outcome on Saturday.

    West Ham lost to Crystal Palace last time out, although so had Hull City before Sunday's match.

    Here's the rundown on the selection decisions facing Rodgers.

At the Back

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    According to The Guardian's Louise Taylor, Brendan Rodgers acknowledged prior to the Norwich match that getting his defensive partnership right was now a priority.

    That Rodgers opted for Daniel Agger alongside Martin Skrtel for the visit of Norwich, then, may signal that they are his preferred choice at the heart of the Reds defence.

    Skrtel has become a first choice under Rodgers this season despite looking to be heading out the door in the summer, while Agger has been dropped/rotated for Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure.

    Sakho has been cast aside since the 2-0 defeat to Arsenalan unused substitute for every match since.

    It's likely that Rodgers will stick with the same back four that started against Norwich, although you wouldn't bet against changes yet again given the rotation so far this season.

    Jon Flanagan should keep his place at left-back, while the lack of competition at right-back means Glen Johnson will keep his despite two less-than-impressive performances this week.

The Midfield Conundrum

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    Liverpool's midfield balance has been widely debated among supporters this season. Some say the combination of Lucas and Steven Gerrard isn't mobile enough, others believe the duo are one of the best in the Premier League.

    Joe Allen replaced Lucas in midfield on Wednesday evening against Norwich, but presumably Rodgers will recall the Brazilian for the visit of West Ham.

    Gerrard's place looks assured no matter the circumstances, with Rodgers refusing the opportunity to rest the 33-year-old once the game was won against Norwich and playing him another full 90 minutes.

    Similarly, Jordan Henderson has started every game for Liverpool this season and thus will surely start again. He operated from a wider role against Norwich, starting on the right and then switching to the left.

    Rodgers could start the trio of Allen, Lucas and Gerrard as he did against Everton, but that may be a little too defensive for West Ham at home.


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    Luis Suarez's place up front is, of course, guaranteed—he'll be looking to score against West Ham for the first time in his career. Can he provide a similar performance to that which blew Norwich away on Wednesday?

    Raheem Sterling has started the last two fixtures and will likely retain his place after scoring his first goal of the season in the closing stages against Norwich.

    Philippe Coutinho is guaranteed his place and a second consecutive start since returning from the injury he suffered earlier in the season. The magical Brazilian dropped deeper in the second half against Norwich and could do similarly against Allardyce's side to unlock the Hammers defence.

    Other options available to Rodgers include Iago Aspas, Victor Moses and Luis Alberto.

    Alberto enjoyed a good 20-minute cameo as a substitute for Henderson against Norwich and must surely be pushing for his first Premier League start soon.

Starting XI

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    That's how Liverpool could line up against West Ham on Saturday, although, with the busy December fixtures now arriving thick and fast, Rodgers could throw a surprise by rotating his squad somewhat.

    Will Allen retain his place and perhaps join Lucas in midfield? Maybe Henderson won't make the starting XI for the first time this season. Could Alberto make his full Premier League debut?