Liverpool face the manager they didn't pick
Maybe it's all blind faith, but I've bought into the Brendan Rodgers plan so hard I forgot there was a time I would have totally accepted Roberto Martinez being named manager. Which is kind of staggering and a painful exhibition of just where the club are, because nothing on Martinez's CV suggested he would be a visionary, other than being apparently a very nice guy and wanting to play a brand of footy that would have met well with what we want. Whether he could actually implement that at Liverpool is anyone's guess, and one we'll never know. '
But none of that is important. Liverpool face another home match they have to have, and one I'd prefer they have easily -- though I know there's little chance of that. Thanks to these ridiculous mid-week International friendlies with no qualifying matches anywhere on the horizon, Liverpool have enough players on tired legs and minds to make this one a slog.
And considering those legs, there's a chance here for Brendan Rodgers to show how brave he is. With Steven Gerrard going the route last Sunday and then 84 in Sweden in midweek, I just don't like the idea of trying to stomach watching him play three matches in a week with heavy travel involved. Save him for Spurs next week or at least a sub appearance against Young Boys on Thursday if that's needed. It would also provide the platform for Suso to start the match as the most attacking midfielder, a spot where he's changed matches as a sub.
Same goes for Raheem Sterling, though it's understood that if you sit Gerrard and move Suso back to midfield you have two holes in the front three. Whatever. See if Assaidi can play with Suarez for a match. Against Wigan's preferred 3-4-3, a true winger should be able to do some damage. Yes, I know Steward Downing has pretty much been put out to pasture, but he's not a worse option than Joe Cole. You can always change things at half if need be.
Skrtel and Agger did not participate in midweek games for their country, but the ailments that were the reason for that might keep them out of this one. After injury Glen Johnson has played two matches in four days. He should probably be rested too. We'll live with Wisdom and Enrique at fullback, though if they're flanking Carragher and Coates.....yelp.
Yes, I know that Liverpool just don't have the squad to give players a rest, which is why there's been no mention of Suarez to the bench. But Gerrard has somewhat limited Sahin's game, and the Turk might benefit from a more defined role of being behind Suso. Henderson is a more than capable fill-in. Sahin-Shelvey could be in front of Allen too. That's where there are some options.
Same with fullback. If not Wisdom, Flanagan could build on what was a very good performance in Moscow. Yes, up front is where things are thin, but we're depending on Suarez to score anyway so at this point I'm beyond caring who's up there with him because it's not going to matter anyway.
As for Wigan, they sit just behind Liverpool in the table. There's a couple tricky forwards here in Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo. Beausejour on the wing can cause damage. They have gotten a win at White Hart Lane, so Anfield won't hold much fear for them. That'll be even worse when you consider that the Reds haven't beaten Wigan since Benitez was in charge. They lost to Wigan 2-1 at home last year in another infuriating occasion for all.
So the home banker Liverpool probably require is not on the cards. But this is still very winnable. And I tire of writing the words, but Liverpool need a run. Yeah, I know, not beaten in six. Did you actually feel that way? Neither did I. String some three-point collections together, and we'll just see where things are then.