Starting 11 and 7 Subs
Can't say it is "must win" in the sense the team is probably not going to slip into 4th place unless Manchester City really collapses.
But as a matter of pride, Liverpool wants to edge out Tottenham and Southampton and keep its 5th spot so in that sense, it is "must win."
My starting XI. You can see other ideas over at the Liverpool Echo.
Defensive Four: Can, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno
Midfield Three: Henderson, Gerrard, Allen
Advance Three: Ibe, Coutinho, Sterling.
Ballotelli, Markovic, Lambert, Johnson, Toure, Manquillo, Jones.
Fans will hotly debate Gerrard's role in the starting XI. My question is simply this, does Rodgers really have a better option sitting on the bench at this moment?
Other options I considered:
Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno
Ibe, Henderson, Allen, Can
Coutinho, Sterling, Balotelli.
Balotelli gives Liverpool an alleged "true" striker up front. As a sub Balotelli had a goal taken away due to a questionable off-side call in the second half of the previous match and on other occasions has caused havoc with defenders. But other times, he is a total non-factor and Rodgers has rarely started him.
Can, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno
Coutinho, Henderson, Allen, Markovic
Lallana and Markovic were big ticket 2014 summer signings yielding mixed results. If Lallana were healthy, he could be in the starting XI in most scenarios. In any case, Gerrard could be substituted out in the second half it he looks winded since in EPL games you won't need to keep him in for potential PK in a shootout as in the case of the FA Cup match against Aston Villa. Alas, Liverpool was dreadful in the second half and couldn't get the equalizer to even force extra-time.
UPDATE: It was a disappointing result on Saturday. Liverpool had the ball but couldn't put it in the net. Don't know enough about soccer tactics to be able to say if they could do anything differently. Seems to me with the players they have they do best in open field running and shooting. As it stood, West Brom packed it in and made the final 1/3 very crowded and Liverpool doesn't seem to either have the players or the technique to do tight quarter moving and shooting.
The line-up as I expected included Gerrard. Moreno was injured and Johnson was plugged in. Allen was placed on the bench and Balotelli given a chance. The much maligned Lovren was a solid presence on defense. Given that Liverpool knew Tottenham and Southampton had drawn, Liverpool only needed the point to stay in 5th place. The match against Hull is Tuesday so a victory would be the only way to be sure to stay in the 5th spot.
Who will Rodgers pick for his XI against Hull?