As an audition for next season, Brendan Rodgers hasn't done awfully well the last two matches. The final six matches of the Premier League campaign were supposed to be about strengthening the team's identity ahead of next season, about further bedding in the youngsters, and building confidence heading into a crucial summer and preseason campaign. Some would argue that an audition isn't required, and it probably isn't, but after such horrible displays against West Brom and Hull City, Rodgers could very well be in danger of managing himself out of a job if results and performances don't improve over the next few weeks.
A bad result against QPR tomorrow would only compound matters, as it would leave the third-year boss without a win in three consecutive matches against sides in the relegation battle. While both West Brom and Hull appear safe, QPR look sure to drop, as they sit four points from safety and play three of their last four away from home including tomorrow's trip to Anfield and a visit to Manchester City next weekend. They've only won twice in the new year, though, both of which have come on the road against Sunderland and West Brom.
Temporary boss Chris Ramsey has been in charge to oversee both of those wins, but it doesn't look like his efforts will be enough to save QPR from the drop. Tomorrow he could be missing Mauro Zarate, Bobby Zamora, and Rio Ferdinand, and will for sure be without Armand Traore, Michael Doughty, Eduardo Vargas, and Alejandro Faurlin. In the scoreless draw against West Ham--in which Charlie Austin missed a penalty--last weekend, Ramsey selected Robert Green in goal, Steven Caulker, Clint Hill, Nedum Onuoha, and Richard Dunne at the back, Matthew Phillips, Joey Barton, Karl Henry, and Sandro in the midfield, with Austin and Zamora up front. The latter was replaced by Leroy Fer off the bench, while Shaun Wright-Phillips, Niko Kranjcar, Mauricio Isla, and Adel Taraabt were also in the squad.
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno
Can Gerrard Henderson
Lallana Sterling Coutinho
Yesterday brought news that Jon Flanagan's recovery rules him out for the rest of the season and possibly the early part of next, while Daniel Sturridge travels to the US in search of a fix for his long-standing knee/hip/everything problem. Mamadou Sakho and Mario Balotelli are out due to injury as well. Lucas returned to training yesterday and should be available for selection, while Steven Gerrard is fit again after missing out midweek.
Rodgers' selections have confounded over the last two, and he's run out of excuses to avoid playing players in their actual positions. The personnel are available at the back, and rather than continue to feature the continually ineffective and out of sorts Emre Can at right-back, Rodgers needs to play a right-back if he's going with a four-man back line. And not the one who's openly talked about leaving at season's end, the one who has, a match or two aside, been one of the better performers of the first part of the campaign. Free Javier Manquillo.
With Lucas so close to a decently long layoff it would be shocking to see him feature ahead of the captain, who's only got two home matches left. Assuming Gerrard starts he'll need plenty of energy around him, and it would be nice to see Can get a run-out in a box-to-box role alongside Jordan Henderson in the middle. Gerrard can sit deep and let the energetic duo cover most of the ground he can't.
Up front Jordon Ibe will be in the running again, but after two straight substitute appearances Adam Lallana looks in line to make the starting eleven for the first time since the loss to Manchester United. He should be joined by Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, though a start for Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini is always possible. As noted, Balotelli is likely out of the running with an injury aggravated against Hull City on Tuesday night.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM BST/10:00AM EST on Saturday, with NBCSN airing the match in the US. Our coverage will continue with any breaking team news, team sheets when they’re released, and live coverage tomorrow including full viewing options and post-match reactions. If you haven’t already, sign up for an SB Nation account and join us for it.