Who Drops Out of the Starting Eleven for Liverpool?

Alex Livesey

With a number of players set to return from injury in the coming weeks, Brendan Rodgers finally has the luxury of choice, but now comes the difficult task of deciding who, if anyone, to drop.

Squad depth is an undoubtedly wonderful thing, and as we learned earlier this morning, Liverpool are set to--at least for a brief moment in time--exist in a reality in which they have multiple players available in one position. Deep breaths, people, but there will be two first-choice fullbacks available on both sides, four central defenders available for selection, four central midfielders, and a handful of names available to round out the front four, with Philippe Coutinho's impending return left to round off an exciting and competitive time in the Liverpool squad.

The problem with depth, however, is that it creates some difficult questions, ones that aren't asked when injuries and suspensions limit the number of players available. And, of course, there will be injuries to come, though we'll naively hope that any further suspensions in the Liverpool squad are limited to bans for yellow or red cards and nothing more. Not naming names.

To a certain extent we've already started shifting uncomfortably in our seats when it comes to the starters in central defense; Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel, and Mamadou Sakho have earned their spots in the three-man back line, and with Daniel Agger recovering from injury, the selections were easy. But Agger's back to full fitness now, playing the entirety of both of Denmark's World Cup qualifiers this past week, begging the question of where the vice-captain now fits. On current form, does he slot straight back in for Skrtel? Or does Rodgers wait for a wobble or an injury to bring Agger back in the fold?

Similarly difficult questions are posed in the midfield, where there will soon be no less than four players--Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Jordan Henderson, and Joe Allen--vying for two spots. This weekend likely comes too soon for both Allen and Glen Johnson, meaning that Henderson would deputize at right wingback again, but moving forward Rodgers is going to have to wrestle with what midfield combination makes the most sense for Liverpool practically rather than sentimentally. We know what hasn't worked, and now that he's seemingly spoiled for choice, many have pegged Rodgers' decision here as among the most important in his young tenure as manager.

In attack the only player that's likely affected will be Victor Moses, who's been covering as a number ten while Coutinho works his way back. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will start every match so long as they're fit, and unless the shape changes, it looks to be one or the other between Moses and Coutinho. That decision seems easy enough, with Moses either on the bench or on the left if Rodgers does decide to change the setup. Also possible is the decision to bring one of Allen or Henderson forward, which would reduce the number of "attacking" players on the field but could be of benefit in distribution and possession, two areas in which Liverpool have been inconsistent at best this season.

Whatever the decisions ending up being, it's a far better prospect to have options available than not. That it's "better" doesn't mean it's easier, however, and over the next few weeks and months Brendan Rodgers is going to have to make some difficult, potentially season-defining decisions for his Liverpool squad.

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