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Liverpool: Five potential line-ups

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Liverpool have had a terrible start to the season so far. They sit 11th in the Premier League table on just 14 points - 15 behind current league leaders, Chelsea.

The Merseyside club saw Luis Suarez, who netted 31 top flight goals last term, leave for Barcelona in the summer for £75 million and are clearly feeling the effects of his departure.

Brendan Rodgers spent over £100 million to prepare for life without the Uruguayan star, bringing nine new faces to Anfield that included Mario Balotelli, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren.

However, with the sheer amount of new recruits that have been brought to the club, the Northern Irishman now does not now who is best team to field is.

Not a game has passed where the same starting XI from the previous game have lined up and Rodgers admitted after the 1-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish capital that he does not yet know his best team.

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We've saw a mixed bag of performances from the Liverpool team this season and performances badly need to pick up if they are to qualify for the Champions League once again.

Here are five possible line-ups for Rodgers to go with and see his side improve.

4-3-3

Mignolet; Manquillo, Sakho, Lovren, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Allen; Sterling, Sturridge, Balotelli

This was the starting XI that beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 away at White Hart Lane in what was Liverpool's best performance of the season.

Mario Balotelli has suffered playing up-front on his own for the most part and looks begging for a strike-partner to join him. The Spurs game was the Italian's debut for the Reds and by far his best performance to date. He looked eager to impress that day and had several chances go begging, however Kopites took the positives from that effort and thought he would go on from there.

The former Manchester City man linked well with Daniel Sturridge during the game and it seemed that they could forge a lethal partnership up-top. Unfortunately, Sturridge picked up an injury on international duty and has been side-lined since.

Raheem Sterling had a good game that fixture too and slotted well into a more central role, just behind the strikers, grabbing himself the first of the game when smartly losing his marker.

He also wondered out on the left and linked well with Alberto Moreno. The tactics saw the Spaniard have the allowance to go forward freely and his fellow countryman, Javier Manquillo tucked in as an extra centre-back when the former Sevilla man went on the attack, creating solidarity at the back.

4-3-3

Mignolet; Manquillo, Skrtel,Toure, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana; Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge

The three men in the forward line are used to playing with each other, being part of the Reds' almost title winning campaign last year.

Philippe Coutinho was labelled as the brains of the side by Rodgers prior to the start of the season due to his form the campaign previously. When on top form, he is unplayable - his trickery on the ball either fools the opposition into a foul or the Brazilian leaves them for dead. The 22-year-old's vision isn't bad either and hits plenty of inch-perfect passes in games.

The Liverpool boss has preferred playing one striker up front this season and Balotelli has lead the front-line on his own form most games but has not adapted to the situation and netted just two goals in 13 appearances.

When Sturridge rediscovers full fitness, he could replace the Italian up-front and lead the line on his own.

Coutinho and the England international have an excellent understanding with one-another as they showed so often last season. The play-maker requires movement from the men in-front of him to feed the ball into - that has been virtually non-existent from Balotelli and has effected Coutinho's game.

Sturridge too has done well playing up-top alone, doing so when Suarez was suspended at the start of last season.

Adam Lallana has done well since his £25 million move from Southampton and could more than do a job in the centre-of-midfield. He has played here and further up the pitch and possesses qualities to do both. The Three Lions international has an excellent work-rate and is under-rated defensively and too is fantastic going forward - he could settle well into playing the further of the three proposed.

Defensively, the five time European cup winners have been poor this season. Dejan Lovren was purchased for £20 million this summer, however he has very much been a flop at Anfield.

Kolo Toure lined up in the 1-0 loss to Los Blancos and put in an excellent performance. He's found himself out of the firing line this season, and making just his fourth appearance, the Ivorian put in a great effort - he put his body on the line making a Champions League record of six blocks to almost keep Cristiano Ronaldo and co. at bay.

4-2-3-1

Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Gerrard, Lucas; Coutinho, Lallana, Sterling; Sturridge

This formation could be successful for Rodgers.

Glen Johnson is one of the most attacking full-backs in the world and always is on the urge to get forward.

Playing two defensive midfielders in Gerrard and Lucas would allow both him and Moreno to really commit to Liverpool attacks, as they know that they will have cover if their side lose the ball.

Lucas' game-time has been minimal this season however was given the nod like so many others in the Spanish capital. He was given the job of sticking close to Ronaldo and not letting the £80 million star move for 90 minutes. It's difficult for any midfielder to keep tracks of the Portuguese international, however Lucas did as good a job as any.

The attacking line also would be a huge threat. I'd like to see Coutinho on the left and Lallana on the right, so they can cut inside and thread balls through with their preferred foot. Sterling would likely play just behind Sturridge and we've seen the pair combine to perfection so often in the past.

4-1-2-1-2

Mignolet; Manquillo, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno; Lucas; Gerrard, Can; Lallana; Balotelli, Sturridge

How about this formation for the Reds?

Jordan Henderson has improved this season, however, he still needs to do more in the centre-of-midfield. The former Sunderland man is now the vice-captain of the club, but recently he has not been performing like he will become the leader of the Reds one day.

Steven Gerrard has not been effective in his defensive midfield role of late and given Lucas’ effort against Real Madrid, he can fill a job there. That would see the Liverpool skipper take a more advanced role in the side, something he did expertly against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season.

Rodgers drafted in Emre Can in the summer and he looks to be settling in nicely on Merseyside. He started against both Madrid and Chelsea recently and looked well suited to playing in central midfield. The German is blesses with a massive physique that aids him when both attacking and defending, and his presence would allow Gerrard to get forward more often.

Lallana could fit into playing just behind the strikers. Coutinho is the better when both on top form, however the Brazilian’s end product is not good enough a lot of the time. Lallana on the other hand, is much more consistent and is capable of unlocking defences, as he did at Southampton for so long.

Sterling would be left out of this side given the sheer number of matches he’s played of late. The youngster has played so often this season and could suffer from burnout if he is not careful and could also be of use coming on as an impact player.

Mamadou Sakho has been out injured for a lot of the season, but in the past he’s shown he is capable of becoming a regular at the back. The 24-year-old is a regular for France and puts in solid displays time and time again. What he needs is a regular partner to become accustomed with and could form a solid bond with Skrtel.

4-4-2

Mignolet; Manquillo, Toure, Sakho, Moreno; Sterling, Gerrard, Can, Lallana; Borini, Sturridge

This system seems a little out-dated in modern football, however Liverpool could benefit from going back to basics.

The 4-4-2 formation is a solid foundation for attacks and the Reds could be successful if this was implemented.

Balotelli may be struggling through a lack of strike-partner and no service, but he is not doing himself any favours. An old saying is that if a striker is not getting the ball, go and win it – the Italian is not doing so and instead prefers to remain isolated up front and be as useful as a statue.

Fabio Borini on the other hand works his socks off when given a rare opportunity. He impressed against Swansea City in the Capital One Cup, working hard to win the ball back for his team as well as moving cleverly when his side are on the ball.

Skrtel hasn’t been at his best all season and it could be worth trying Toure and Sakho together – what could be worse than what has already been on display.

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Topics:
Raheem Sterling
Premier League
Mario Balotelli
Liverpool
Football
Steven Gerrard

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