Successive Premier League defeats have ensured Liverpool’s midweek FA Cup replay at Blackburn has taken on added importance, but if the Reds are to bounce back with progression to Wembley, a tactical switch is essential.
Given the rich run of results the transition to a 3-4-3 formation preceded, Brendan Rodgers has rightly been lauded as something of a tactical maestro this season.
However, all good things come to an end and in terms of shelf life the system which has served Rodgers so well now resembles a blackened banana.
Liverpool’s hopes of a top-four finish are thinner than a pancake thanks to Arsenal running amok at the Emirates, with the 13/2-rated Reds now cut seven points adrift and the truth is they’ve been found out.
Swansea and Manchester United did the groundwork by exploiting the gaps between centre-backs and wing-backs, before Arsenal lifted the lid in ruthless fashion last time out.
Ahead of their FA Cup quarter-final replay at Ewood Park, where the Reds look skinny at 8/13 for a 90-minute victory, a reversion to a 4-3-3 looks like the way to turn, especially in light of a host of injuries and suspensions.
Thanks to a second yellow in north London, Emre Can joins Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel on the naughty step, while Mario Balotelli, Jon Flanagan and Jose Enrique are all doubtful and Jordan Ibe is definitely out.
£20m is a lot to spend on a centre-half wherever you are standing and when the alternatives are midfielders, vulnerable veterans and full-backs playing instead, then it is high time Rodgers put some faith back into Dejan Lovren.
Alongside the Croat, Mamadou Sakho is the natural choice as a left-footer while Alberto Moreno’s kamikaze defending sees him hooked for the slightly more dependable Glen Johnson.
Brought back from the wilderness is Atletico Madrid loanee Javier Manquillo, who may lack flair but is solid in the tackle and will add the required robustness.
Having gained valuable minutes at Arsenal after a lay off, Lucas is employed as the deepest of three midfielders, despite struggling on his Premier League return.
The Brazilian spoiler then gives Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho the platform to express themselves further forward at the expense of Joe Allen whose own form has dipped in recent weeks.
Thought to be back in contention is Adam Lallana who joins England teammate Raheem Sterling in a fluid front three in where Lazar Markovic gives way after a game to forget at the Emirates and a debut campaign short of highlights.
Sterling will be boosted from 9/2 to 6/1 at 8.00 am on the day of kick-off to notch the first goal within regulation time.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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