Football

Brendan Rodgers must abandon philosophies in place of logic against Manchester United

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As we recover from a not-so exhilarating international break which saw England yet again thrash San Marino and secure their place at next summer's European Championships, all heads once again turn back to the Premier League with two of England's finest going head-to-head this weekend.

Manchester United and Liverpool remain the two most decorated clubs in all of English football yet the glory seems to be shying away from both Merseyside and the red half of Manchester as of late.

Liverpool have gone over three seasons without silverware, all of which with Brendan Rodgers at the helm, whilst United have struggled to muster even a challenge since claiming their 20th league title in 2013.

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It can be argued that this Liverpool side is purely the embodiment of Rodgers with only two players - Lucas Leiva and Martin Skrtel - not having been recruited by the man in charge. Early signs this season showed the Northern Irishman's overhaul paying off with back-to-back victories followed by a nail-biting 0-0 at the Emirates, but then West Ham arrived.

Many Kopites believed that the game was theirs for the taking - the Hammers' star strikers were injured, the goalkeeper was suspended and Slaven Bilic's men weren't in the best of form. Ignorance proved dividends, though, as Liverpool walked out defeated in an embarrassing 3-0 thumping.

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What was most concerning during the clash was the decisions made at half-time. The introduction of Alberto Moreno for Emre Can - now a Germany international - saw Rodgers revert to his ill favoured 3-4-2-1, a formation which saw Liverpool end up sixth last campaign.

The minute things became tough, all logic was thrown out the window and it didn't take long for the Reds manager to make previous mistakes once again. With Christian Benteke often surrounded and made ineffective, the introduction of an additional striker would've paid off. Rodgers, though, only brought on back up in the form of Danny Ings with mere minutes remaining.

There was never a need to play with three centre-backs when you're 2-0 down and it showed. Philippe Coutinho's sending off meant Rodgers needed to react fast yet he subbed off another attacker in Roberto Firmino as opposed to going all out for the win.

A single-striker system has rarely paid off for Rodgers and it rarely will either, unless blessed with the attacking talents of former Reds Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres, though even the former was partnered up top with the injured Daniel Sturridge.

What the former Swansea manager must do, therefore, amidst a period without Coutinho, is partner one of Divock Origi or Ings with the often-isolated Benteke.

Dejan Lovren also exhibited once again why he should receive the chop in place of Frenchman Mamadou Sakho. Changes must be made.

Liverpool are yet to find a winning tactic, which is all-the-more worrying when the Premier League demands sides to have multiple tactics to deal with the array of opposition.

All eyes will be on Rodgers this weekend and his team selection, then. Will he bring back familiar faces in Sakho, or will he once again put all his eggs in a not-so sturdy basket with Lovren? And will he finally succumb to the inevitable fate that two men upfront is what his side needs? 

Last season's fixtures against United prove damaging to the Reds' strength and ultimately proved the difference between fourth and sixth. Liverpool and Rodgers cannot afford to let that happen again.

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Topics:
Football
Liverpool
Premier League

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