Liverpool look to clinch passage to knockout rounds of Europa League
It's that debate time again. Brendan Rodgers gets to decide how important this competition is to the club, and how strong of a lineup he will field to satisfy whatever he deems that need to be. Based on his lineups against Anzhi and Udinese at home, you have to guess he's going to go for this balls-out and try to render the last match against Udinese a formality. I wonder if he might not wait for the result from Moscow before deciding fully. After all, if Udinese get a win in Russia than the last match will matter, and maybe Rodgers won't risk a full-strength 11 for a match where he can't clinch anything.
But all the sounds emanating from Melwood suggest the big guns will be brought out. Look for all of Gerrard, Agger, Skrtel, and Suarez to start, and worry about Sunday in Wales later. You'd have to believe that Henderson will get a start after the very effective performance against Wigan. I'd like to see Gerrard, Henderson, and Shelvey to rest Allen for Sunday. But Rodgers won't go out there without a holder you have to believe, considering the way Young Boys carved up Liverpool on the break in Switzerland. Probably too big of an occasion now to give Conor Coady another look, but I won't rule it out totally. Someone is going to have to give Allen a break in these four matches in ten days, and Lucas might not be ready in time to get there in the back end of it.
There will be some tinkering with the fullbacks, and whether Rodgers wants Enrique to continue in attack or at his natural position will determine just about everything. If he's at his normal position, then only one of Johnson or Widsom will start, with Flanagan an outside shot possibility. If Enrique continues farther forward, then they'll both start you'd have to imagine. Small possibility that Coates could replace Agger, but I doubt it.
With Suarez a cert to start to try to put this to bed, you'd have to also guess that Sterling is a go too. Though there is the chance Enrique could remain up top with Suso coming in on the other side, as he only had barely half an hour on Saturday and Rodgers might be eager to restore whatever confidence lost by his early sub. Or Assaidi and Suso could flank Suarez. It'll be some combo of that four around El Pistolero, as Downing has been put in a box marked "To Australia" and Joe Cole can't be trusted to even stand up for five consecutive minutes.
Young Boys are coming off a double over Udinese. That win in Italy will assuredly have their confidence at full tumescence heading into Less-Than-Fortress-Anfield. Raul Bobadilla is the danger man, as he poured in four over those two games against the Italians. Nuzzullo and Zarate were enough of a problem in the first game, which is why I'd expect Rodgers to keep the experienced Enrique at fullback with Johnson on the other side, so the Swiss can't pick on the inexperienced Wisdom. It won't be easy.
The match is on FSC here in the States. With the holiday, the wrap will probably be delayed until Friday. And when I say "holiday", I mean "sobriety."