Liverpool host Middlesborough in the Capital One Cup 2nd round tonight. Liverpool are looking to get back to winning ways after their brief disappointing run of form. Middlesborough are doing well, however, winning 4-0 at the weekend to move up to 5th in the Championship.
Understandably with Liverpool’s hectic run of fixtures, there will be a lot of changes from Saturday’s defeat at West Ham. There are rumours that youngsters, Jordan Rossiter and Sheyi Ojo will both come into the squad and could even start to make their Liverpool debuts.
Steven Gerrard will almost definitely be rested by Brendan Rodgers after the 34 year-old has played 3 games in the last week, and has seen his form deteriorate, as a result.
Brendan Rodgers has already confirmed in his pre-Middlesborough press conference that Rickie Lambert will make his first start in Liverpool red. The boyhood Liverpool fan will be looking to score his first Liverpool goal and fulfill a dream of his, after making a few substitute appearances thus far.
The injury woes are continuing for Liverpool, with Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson, the latest victims. This is on top of Daniel Sturridge (who’s likely to return this weekend), Joe Allen, Emre Can and Glen Johnson. Rodgers says that Henderson and Coutinho will be assessed in the next couple of days, a time period for both yet to be announced.
I’d like to see Simon Mignolet keep his place in goal to gain him a tiny bit more confidence (hopefully), after the Belgian’s shaky period between the Liverpool posts. This is the same as the situation with the centre backs, I’d like to see the two that Rodgers wants for the derby on Saturday, play tonight. Obviously there is an argument against this, being a potential injury to one, or both of them. I think that Rodgers needs to pick what he believes is the best pairing and stick to it for a while (bar any injuries).
I expect Javier Manquillo to start tonight, too. The Spaniard barely featured in Saturday’s loss, due to a system change, so will still be fresh. And, the main reason, there isn’t another option available really.
Jose Enrique should come into the side for Alberto Moreno to give the Spaniard a rest. And Enrique is a competent replacement, in my opinion.
All of the sudden, there seems to be a lack of options in the midfield. So I could definitely see Jordan Rossiter coming into the side and playing somewhere in the midfield. I really hope so, too. I’ve watched the 17 year-old play many times for the u18s and u21s, and I’ve been massively impressed, especially with his football brain at such a young age.
You’d expect Lucas Leiva to come into the side, too. The Brazilian, despite playing on Saturday, has barely featured for Rodgers’ side this term, so he could be now seen as a fringe player. He will be relatively fresh, too.
I hope Adam Lallana plays some part, too. Hopefully from the start. Lallana has just come back from injury and is probably not 100% match-fit yet, despite Lallana being one of Liverpool’s best players when he came on against West Ham.
Lazar Markovic hasn’t appeared for a couple of games, and you’d expect the Serbian to play from the start against Middlesborough. This is definitely Markovic’s chance to shine, if he does play. I was relatively impressed with him against Villa, and very impressed against City. So I’m looking forward to seeing him play.
There is a case of Sheyi Ojo playing, maybe on the left hand side. I highly doubt Raheem Sterling will play again, and we’ll try and keep him fit and fresh for the Everton clash. Ojo, like Rossiter, has impressed me loads for the u18s and u21s. He made his debut the other week for the u21s and notched two fantastically taken goals for them. Rodgers was obviously very impressed by that.
Fabio Borini also has a shout of playing. The Italian will rarely get a look-in once Sturridge is back from injury, and, like Lucas, will be seen as a fringe player.
I think the team will be something like this:
Liverpool should win this, of course. But they haven’t been on great form recently, and Middlesborough have. I still think the home side will win this, hopefully with a clean sheet! 2-0 to Liverpool I’m going for, Lambert and Markovic both scoring.