FA Cup Preview: How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Bournemouth
An injury-ravaged Reds squad has regular first-team players such as Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Lucas Leiva and Jose Enrique out of first-team contention for the game, so with an important Merseyside derby against Everton coming up soon after, Brendan Rodgers would do well to rest his key players on Saturday.
Here is a much changed starting XI that Liverpool might field against Bournemouth. Let us know your picks in the comments below.
Goalkeeper: Brad Jones
Previous Liverpool managers have taken the opportunity to field their second-choice goalkeepers in cup ties against smaller opposition, and Brendan Rodgers seems to be no different.
Despite starting regular No. 1 Simon Mignolet in a thrilling Capital One Cup win over Notts County back in August, Rodgers opted to give Brad Jones some game time in the FA Cup third round tie against Oldham.
Jones will likely continue his FA Cup run on Saturday—and hope he will get another 90 minutes after that if Liverpool progress.
Right-Back: Martin Kelly
Just like Jones, Martin Kelly last started for the Reds against Oldham.
With Glen Johnson suffering a dramatic decline in form, Saturday will be a good chance to take him out of the firing line and give him a breather.
Into the defence comes Kelly, who will hope to impress his manager and force his way into his Premier League starting XI.
Left-Back: Aly Cissokho
It’s not been an enjoyable few weeks for Liverpool’s full-backs. After a mini resurgence over the Christmas period, Aly Cissokho has regressed in recent games and has looked a defensive liability on the left flank.
But with Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan both out with injuries, Cissokho will get a chance to show what he can bring to the team—not just how he might put his teammates in danger.
A big game for Cissokho.
Center-Back: Martin Skrtel
Injuries to Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho mean that Brendan Rodgers will continue with the shaky Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure central defensive partnership.
Having conceded five goals in just two Premier League games against Stoke City and Aston Villa, the Skrtel-Toure partnership is not one that inspires confidence, but given the current situation, it's the only realistic option for Rodgers.
It’ll be up to them to prove that they deserve to continue as the starting central defenders when Agger and Sakho return.
Center-Back: Kolo Toure
Having impressed in his first few Premier League games as a Liverpool player, Kolo Toure has been a shadow of his former self in recent weeks.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that he has to accommodate for Skrtel’s right-side specialty by slotting into the left side of the partnership, but regardless, Toure has yet to impress in tandem with Skrtel.
With Steven Gerrard likely to be rested for Everton, Rodgers will be looking to Toure to instill leadership and vocal organization in his team.
Holding Midfielder: Joe Allen
Joe Allen’s return against Aston Villa was encouraging in that his presence and qualities will be needed in the coming few months, but it also came about as a result of Lucas’ exit through injury.
With Lucas out of contention and Gerrard likely rested, Allen will come into the starting XI to play as the deepest midfielder in the Reds lineup.
He’ll have to keep his composure against a motivated Bournemouth side with nothing to lose at home, and look to continue his pre-injury form.
Central Midfielder: Luis Alberto
It’s crunch time for Liverpool, and it’s time their reserve options stepped up.
Luis Alberto got a chance to start for the Reds against Oldham but was substituted at half-time, meaning that his opportunities to stake a claim for a first-team spot will continue to be rare.
He will likely get another opportunity to impress against Bournemouth, and will need to put in a big performance to justify his inclusion in the first-team squad in the next few months, especially if Liverpool don’t end up signing a midfielder this January.
Attacking Midfielder: Jordan Henderson
It’s a testament to Jordan Henderson’s impressive fitness and form that he is our only pick from the regular starting midfield to continue on Saturday.
Henderson has seemed to thrive in the absence of his club captain, and will need to step up his game and leadership by leading the charge through the Liverpool midfield.
It’s times like this that Liverpool need to count on their next generation to take the lead. Don’t be surprised if Henderson gratefully accepts that chance and turns in another encouraging display.
Right Forward: Jordon Ibe
The last couple of months have been a huge boon for Raheem Sterling, and he has impressed as Rodgers’ starting right forward since regaining his place in the first team in December.
But perhaps it’s time to give Sterling a bit of a rest so he can come out firing on all cylinders again in the forthcoming Merseyside derby, so we’ve gone for a left-field pick and opted for a starting role for Jordon Ibe.
Ibe played all 120 minutes and impressed in the extra-time win over Notts County in August, and has been regarded as one of the most exciting prospects to graduate to the first team in years.
He’ll be hungry to prove himself and get into the first team starting with a productive Saturday.
Left Forward: Victor Moses
Where has Victor Moses gone? It seems as if he’s found himself even further down the pecking order after Brendan Rodgers’ public claims that he still has a part to play at Liverpool in January, per Liverpool Echo.
It didn’t help that an anonymous display in the first half against Oldham led to his substitution at half-time, but Moses needs to impress if he is to stay at Anfield for the remainder of the campaign.
Philippe Coutinho needs a break to restore his confidence and form. Moses needs another opportunity to impress from the start. For his sake, he needs to grab this chance with both hands—and then some.
Striker: Iago Aspas
Luis Suarez will be knocking on his manager’s door to tell him that he wants to play on Saturday. Daniel Sturridge will be looking to continue his return to the first team following an injury layoff.
But Brendan Rodgers, with the massive Everton clash in mind, may look to give another chance to Iago Aspas, who has failed to impress since his summer move from Celta Vigo but finally opened his Reds account against Oldham.
With just over a week left to go in the January transfer window and no signings made yet, Liverpool need their bench options to step up and prove their worth. It’s Aspas’ time to shine.