How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Oldham Athletic
The Reds' congested festive fixture schedule has taken its toll on the legs of players, and the chance of a rest until the next league game Sunday, 12 January away to Stoke will come as welcome news to Rodgers’ first team.
The injuries to both Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last month showed the dangers of overplaying in the demands of a heavy fixture schedule.
With keeping players injury-free and Liverpool’s priority of the league in mind, Rodgers would do well to both rest his regulars and give fringe players their chance to get match-sharp.
Simon Mignolet has played all 20 of Liverpool’s Premier League games this season, as well as their two League Cup games in the Autumn.
Brad Jones has become a permanent fixture of Liverpool’s bench, and some may feel he needs to be rewarded with a game in the first team.
Kolo Toure looked sharp and eager to impress when he came on Wednesday as a second-half substitute for Glen Johnson during Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Hull.
With Johnson having looked off the pace and error-prone lately, Toure, given the chance, could provide the England international with some good competition.
Daniel Agger's form has dipped this season, and Liverpool's vice captain has found himself falling dramatically down the defensive pecking order.
Amid speculation linking the Danish international with a loan move to Napoli for the remainder of the season, via Andy Hunter of The Guardian, the recent injury to Mamadou Sakho gives Agger another shot at staking his claim back in Rodgers' first team.
Martin Kelly’s return from long-term injury this season has been somewhat stuttered, with the right-back struggling for full-match fitness.
At times, Kelly has looked exhausted and off the pace of the Premier League.
Owing to his strong physique and the cardio-vascular demands of a full-back under Rodgers’ wing-back system, Kelly could make a very good centre-back.
Sunday’s game against Oldham could be the perfect chance to test that theory.
The January transfer window will likely bring in a new left-back, with first-choice Jose Enrique and second-choice Jon Flanagan both currently sidelined.
It may be the so-far-underwhelming Aly Cissokho’s last chance to prove himself as a reliable option before he’s shipped back to Valencia.
The rise and rise of Raheem Sterling on Liverpool’s right wing has constricted Victor Moses to substitute appearances lately.
Whilst Sterling could do with the rest, Moses needs chances from the start to show Rodgers and Liverpool why he may be worthy of a permanent deal at the end of the season.
Steven Gerrard missed the cold snap of the festive fixture schedule, nursing a hamstring injury, before returning Wednesday.
The captain will now look to get good game time and return to full fitness in order to play a key part in Liverpool’s league run-in.
Brad Smith was thrown in at the deep end for his senior debut for Liverpool, replacing Joe Allen in the second half of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Chelsea last month.
The 19-year-old looked completely out of his depth and was swallowed up by both the occasion and the opposition as Jose Mourinho's men held onto their lead.
Nothing would be better than a confidence-boosting second attempt at first-team football so soon after the debut disappointment for the young Australian.
There seems to be a reluctance by Brendan Rodgers to put his faith in summer signing Luis Alberto so quickly, but the 21-year-old has had some impressive performance in his brief eight outings for the club.
The most recent came as a second-half substitute in Liverpool's 5-0 drubbing of Tottenham at White Hart Lane at the front end of the festive fixture schedule.
He immediately made an impact, laying on Luis Suarez to score his second of the game.
Iago Aspas’ lacklustre performance against Hull on New Years Day failed to win him any more fans at Liverpool.
Whilst he is yet to show any signs whatsoever as to why Liverpool splashed out £7.7 million on him in the summer, an FA Cup tie at home against a League One opponent could be the key to kick start his career on Merseyside.
As crazy as it may seem to not take the opportunity to rest your best player, Luis Suarez is a player who wants to be involved in every game—whatever the competition and whoever the opponents.
He will look to continue his momentum of good form, which dipped slightly when he was strongly kept out of the games against Manchester City and Chelsea.