It comes with little surprise that Brendan Rodgers has named an unchanged side for Liverpool’s clash with Fulham at Craven Cottage tonight, but he has handed academy starlet Joao Carlos Teixeira a taste of first team football by naming the youngster to the bench.
The Reds ran riot against Arsenal at the weekend, scoring four goals in the opening twenty minutes enroute to a 5-1 victory over the then league leaders. Rodgers, who earlier today talked about improving his sides form away from Anfield, will be looking to get another result out of his high flying side against the bottom of the barrel Cottagers. Into the business end of the season, every point matters and the Northern Irishman isn’t taking any chances with his starting eleven – even with the specter of a re-match with the Gunnners in the FA Cup looming at the weekend.
Belgian ‘keeper Simon Mignolet has the familiar pair of Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure in the heart of the Liverpool defence, while youngster Jon Flanagan and on-loan Valencia fullback Aly Cissokho retain their places on the flanks. Steven Gerrard is expected to continue in his deep-lying role and will have Jordan Henderson for company in the midfield.
Going forward, it gets a bit more confusing with Philippe Coutinho in an advanced, free role and the likes of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, overlapping, interchanging and providing an all around fluid experience in attack. From the bench, Rodgers has Jones, Agger, Kelly, Allen, Moses, Teixeira and Aspas to call on if needed.
Fulham boss René Meulensteen gives Dutch ‘keeper Maarten Stekelenburg the nod between the sticks, while Sascha Riether, former Everton man John Heitinga, Dan Burn and former Liverpool fullback John Arne Riise are charged with keeping the Reds at bay. Ryan Tunnicliffe, Steve Sidwell, William Kvist, former Manchester United winger Kieran Richardson and on-loan Tottenham midfielder Lewis Holtby make up the middle of the park. Darren Bent, who scored a late equalizer against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, replaces Muamer Tankovic up top.
From the bench, Meulensteen has Stockdale, Hangeland, Kasami, Kacaniklic, Duff, Cole and Parker in reserve – and he’s going to need every last one of them if his side are going to get anything out of this one. Maybe they’ll let him play 12 players?
Be sure to pop by after the match for a full match reaction and all kinds of other crap.