It’s straight into the frying pan for Liverpool when they return to Premier League action after the international break, bereft of their most influential player, who is suspended for the trip to Manchester United.
Philippe Coutinho may have been free to take selfies with Brazil buddy Neymar when the pair met up on Samba duty, but the Reds playmaker won’t have licence to dazzle at Old Trafford having received two cautions against West Ham.
The loss of Coutinho, that demoralising 3-0 defeat to the Hammers at Anfield and a galling mauling at the hands of their bitterest rivals by the same scoreline in this fixture last season are all factors which will attract Ladbrokes customers to the 10/11 on United.
Brendan Rodgers may have eyes on setting up his side for a nerve-settling point at 23/10, especially in light of Coutinho’s absence, though without lobbing too much caution into the breeze, the 16/5-rated victory could be a season-definer for Liverpool.
Here’s the XI the News.Ladbrokes team would hand deliver to the Northern Irish gaffer an hour before kick-off.
Although they were chastened by the perfect counter attacking display from Slaven Bilic’s raiders, sticking not twisting is Rodgers’ best option, by deploying a back five which hadn’t conceded in the first three games.
The obvious move would be to pull the plug on Anfield villain Dejan Lovren and possibly young Joe Gomez, who also endured a tough time of it at left-back against the Irons.
However, Lovren’s fragile confidence needs nurturing, not shredding, just as the Croatian is finally establishing himself after a nightmarish debut campaign.
An in-form Juan Mata, likely to be playing off the right of Louis van Gaal’s three-pronged attack, is sure to find less space against Gomez, who was outstanding at Arsenal, than the defensively suspect Alberto Moreno, who was found wanting against the Spaniard at Anfield last season.
As Jordan Henderson may not be fit enough, Germany debutant Emre Can deserves his place in central midfield alongside James Milner, who also excelled in England’s engine room against Switzerland.
Lucas misses out. Although the Brazilian is Rodgers’ go-to defence protector in big games he was not at his best against Arsenal and his omission frees up his countryman for a renewed number role at number 10.
A £29m outlay on Roberto Firmino means the marquee signing must step into the creative breach vacated by Coutinho and in the process allow Rodgers to spring another surprise at Old Trafford.
Divock Origi was excellent in pre-season, scoring twice, but is yet to see a minute of action for Liverpool this season.
He is an unknown quantity which could unsettle LVG’s backline, while his rapport with fellow Belgian striker Christian Benteke, is another major plus point.
Doubts over Adam Lallana’s fitness hand the right-sided attacking slot to Jordan Ibe, though Danny Ings should certainly see some game-time at Old Trafford too.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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