Europa Cup Preview: Liverpool v Hearts 2nd leg
Liverpool welcome Hearts to Anfield in hopes of securing the result against the Scottish side to send them into the next stage of the Europa League.
Brendan Rodgers will have one eye fixed on the Arsenal fixture come the weekend, and it is likely that he will rest players who have played in the previous 3 fixtures over the past 2 weeks. Raheem Sterling looks likely to be left on the bench for this one, with him playing a full 90 minutes against the Premier League defending champions, along with playing a part in Liverpool’s first leg victory over Hearts as well.
Martin Skrtel might be rested to preserve the Slovakian, whilst Daniel Agger might play a role in this one. Either Suarez or Borini (probably not both) look likely to be rested, and Steven Gerrard might be benched for the encounter as well.
I reckon that it will be a young squad that Rodgers will put out there, including a couple of fringe players as well. Nuri Sahin is likely to be given his first Liverpool start and appearance, whilst Jack Robinson might be fielded to preserve Jose Enrique for the Arsenal game (or perhaps Downing at leftback, given Rodgers’ recent comments.
Kelly, Agger, Carragher, Robinson
Shelvey, Sahin, Henderson
Downing, Carroll, Borini
Whether or not Carroll will have a mysterious last minute tweak in the hamstrings, I have no idea, but one would think that Rodgers will give him a game to try and up his value ahead of a likely sale over the next few days, with West Ham, AC Milan and Newcastle United looking like possible destinations for the Englishman.
Sahin, Adam and Henderson are naturally very balanced midfielders. Not particularly attacking, whilst not particularly defensive, so there might not be a pivot, and Sahin, Shelvey and Henderson will play right alongside each other and helping provide cover when their teammates move forward.
There will be encouragement for Kelly to link up with Downing and Robinson with Borini, with Henderson potentially tracking back to cover.
Liverpool might change the Tiki-taka slightly if they decide to field big Andy Carroll up front, and will be banking on Stewart Downing and Fabio Borini’s crosses from the flanks to supply the ammunition for Carroll.
No natural defensive midfielder might mean left attacking play from the fullbacks though, as it means that Carragher and Agger can’t shift and cover the fullbacks whilst a defensive midfielder in Lucas would normally shift to the center of defence to cover for the movement.