Liverpool - FC Sion: Four VAVEL writers pick their Reds line-ups for Europa League encounter

Charlie Malam: It would be all too easy to dismiss this as a win even before kick-off. FC Sion only qualified for this competition via their domestic cup success, finishing 7th in the league, whilst they only sit 5th with four wins from 10 as it stands.

But then, Bordeaux didn't seem a particularly difficult fixture and they could perhaps have counted themselves unlucky only to earn a point after matching Liverpool punch-for-punch in France.

Brendan Rodgers and his squad certainly cannot afford to take their Swiss opponents lightly, particularly in their delicate state and with the Merseyside Derby to come this coming weekend. 

Whilst the next game is always the focus, or so the overused mantra of football managers goes, the trip to Everton will take clear priority over Thursday night's fixture - and so a significantly second-string side would be no surprise.

Starting in goal, you'd imagine Adam Bogdan will reprise a role after his heroics in the Capital One Cup - though he'll admit himself that he should have done better for Carlisle United's goal that evening.

Further ahead of him, the back-three seems to have stuck again - as it did for the Reds' unbeaten run last season - and it would be a surprise if it changed again here.

With Joe Gomez not having featured since giving away that penalty at Manchester United, he should be given a chance in a more favoured role, perhaps on the right side of the three centre-backs.

The Englishman, bar a few inexperienced mistakes and a tendency to be isolated onto his weaker left foot in his former left-back role, has turned heads with performances and Rodgers should most certainly rest first-choice centre-backs Martin SkrtelMamadou Sakho and even Emre Can - who has so far played every game this term.

With Dejan Lovren out injured, our options are limited - but Kolo Touré should be fit enough to return from the dead leg which restricted his minutes in Bordeaux, coming into the centre to be the commanding figure.

On the left side, with the likes of Tiago Ilori, Andre Wisdom and others all out on loan - I would hand a debut to Dan Cleary because, as I've said, the Reds should be looking to rest their regulars wherever possible ahead of the huge, albeit short, trip across Stanley Park this weekend.

Cleary, after all, has been included in squads previously for the competition, and he made his non-competitive debut on pre-season in the summer, so Rodgers must see something in him. 

I know what you're thinking. Why not just play two centre-backs as opposed to giving Cleary his first team bow? Well, that's where our lack of depth at full-back comes into play. After recent displays, Alberto Moreno has to be the starting left-back at Goodison Park, whilst Nathaniel Clyne will take up his position on the opposite side. 

Behind them, with Jose Enrique not selected for the Europa League squad, Gomez is our only other option on the left whilst on the right we only have Jon Flanagan behind Clyne, and he's injured for the forseeable future. Local-born youngster Conor Randall is another potential option. 

I, however, would give Jordon Ibe a berth on the left side. He did well in the same position last season and though his defensive commitment has come into question this season, perhaps reprising the role against a side such as Sion - who, with no disrespect, are notably weaker than most if not all of the Reds' league opponents - may help him recapture his spark.

On the other flank, again the options remain rather sparse, but although it may raise some eyebrows, Adam Lallana would be my choice. Quite simply, in the league, he shouldn't getting a look in over Philippe Coutinho this weekend and though he's naturally an attacking midfielder, his pressing and work-rate means he can perform well in a wing-back role.

That brings us to the midfield, which I would have a central three similar to that which performed so well against Villa. Joe Allen would be one of my options in the centre with the Welshman battling back to full fitness, whilst Jordan Rossiter deserves a chance to start alongside him - as does Pedro Chirivella, after doing well at Bordeaux despite being chucked in at the deep end.

All three are equally as capable of controlling the tempo of the game and doing their defensive duties, and it also ensures that none of the Reds' players who will need their full energy levels for Sunday, are used - barring any injuries throughout the game.

The front two, with Christian Benteke out injured, Divock Origi - for all his rawness - should be given a start as he bids to convince that he shouldn't be sent out on loan. Normally, Danny Ings would be my choice to partner him but given his excellent performances of late, it's likely he'll start with Sturridge at Everton. Despite his incredible work ethic, after the gruelling draw with Carlisle - of which he played the full 120 minutes - I'd opt for another controversial decision and start Jerome Sinclair.

The youngster, whose long-term future remains uncertain after a mysterious absence in pre-season, made his debut away at Chelsea earlier this calendar year and is regarded as a promising striker. Quite honestly, with not many other options available, he might be an under-the-radar option.

So, there we go. A mixed team, I'm sure you'll agree. Plenty of contentious inclusions and a mish-mash of a formation, but with such an important league game on the horizon - more injuries are the last thing Liverpool need, and so a weakened - or should I say more youthful - team should be given a chance.

Charlie's XI - Sion (3-5-2): Bogdan; Gomez, Touré, Cleary; Lallana, Rossiter, Chirivella, Allen, Ibe; Origi, Sinclair. 


Ollie Emmerson: Whether you like it or not, Brendan Rodgers remains under monumental pressure in terms of his job status, despite Liverpool seeing off Aston Villa last weekend.

Other than probably giving the Ulsterman a few more days at the helm, the scraped 3-2 win won't have won him too many new fans, meaning that he knows building on the win against Sion is vital.

However, it's equally important that he lets his head rule his heart, and that he doesn't expose players to a gruelling Europa League game ahead of the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

The game against Roberto Martinez's men will do alot more to secure Rodgers' position than any thrashing against Sion, so he's got to take the opportunity to field a rested team on Thursday.

That would start with Adam Bogdan in goal, and you can see why. A mistake from Simon Mignolet gifted Norwich a goal at Anfield last week, and the Hungarian is full of confidence following his penalty shootout heroics against Carlisle in the League Cup.

Ahead of him, it's a struggle to rest players, due to Liverpool's lack of depth defensively. Nathaniel Clyne has had a huge run of games this season, so it's vital he gets rested, and I'd choose to bring Jordon Ibe in for him at right back. Obviously it isn't his natural position, but he's very capable defensively and would help Liverpool overload the minnows going forward.

In the absence of Dejan Lovren to injury and Tiago Ilori to a loan spell at Aston Villa, Kolo Toure and Joe Gomez would make up my second choice back two. Toure is an obvious pick for these games, whilst Gomez needs more chances in his preferred position.

Moving across to left-back, I'd start Alberto Moreno. Jose Enrique isn't in the Europa League squad and Jon Flanagan remains out injured, so I'm struggling for alternatives. Despite me wanting to rest as many first team players as possible, Moreno hasn't played as many games this season as the likes of Clyne, which should allow him to be fresher.

Moving into midfield, I'm a big believer in building partnerships, and think that Pedro Chirivella and Jordan Rossiter need to be kept together as a pairing, and play in central midfielder together on Thursday. Both have shown huge potential in Liverpool's various youth teams, and deserve a chance on the big stage.

Playing a box midfield, I'd pick Adam Lallana and Cameron Brannagan ahead of them. The former is unlikely to start on Sunday, whilst Brannagan is another youngster who deserves to pick up more gametime at senior level.

That leaves me with a front two to pick, and Divock Origi is a sure starter. Daniel Sturridge shouldn't be playing in any cup competitions in my opinion, so I'd certainly leave him out, whilst Danny Ings is another who is likely to start against Everton. Going to the academy again, that leaves me with Jerome Sinclair playing as the other striker, especially with Christian Benteke being injured.

Ollie's XI - Sion (4-2-2-2): Bogdan, Ibe, Toure, Gomez, Moreno, Rossiter, Chirivella, Lallana, Brannagan, Origi, Sinclair.


Ameé Ruszkai: With Everton awaiting on Sunday, it's difficult to predict what team Brendan Rodgers will opt for this Thursday, especially since Sion are considered to be the weakest of the three teams in Liverpool's Europa League group.

One would expect the manager to make many changes though, starting in between the sticks where Adam Bogdan deserves another start after his League Cup heroics in the penalty shootout against Carlisle United.

The full-back options are where Liverpool really lack depth, however, and will surely prove problematic for Rodgers as he thinks about his team selection.

With Jon Flanagan injured and Jose Enrique not even listed in the Europa League squad, whilst Andre Wisdom is on loan at Norwich City, there are few options for the manager to choose from for rotational purposes, and thus it is likely that he will stick with the 3-5-2 set-up, and rightly so.

In this, I would deploy Jordon Ibe in the left wing-back role, with him having excelled in this towards the end of last season, whilst giving young Connor Randall a chance on the right - partly due to lack of a better option.

Nathaniel Clyne should be rested, as should Alberto Moreno, and it gives the youngster a chance to gain some invaluable experience, especially playing in a slightly different position to his usual, standard right-back role.

The centre-backs would then consist of Kolo Touré, afforded few opportunities this season and deserving of one in this game, young Daniel Cleary and Joe Gomez. The latter has fallen out-of-favour since the defeat to Manchester United, and is another deserving of a recall - especially in his natural position.

In midfield, I would go for Joe Allen in the holding role, the Welshman in need of minutes to get himself back to full fitness after an injury. He would also add some seniority and experience to a very youthful team, which will be crucial as they all try to find their feet on the European stage.

With him, I would have Jordan Rossiter, one of the Academy's most promising young talents, and João Teixeira. The Portuguese youngster has been given very few chances this season, and, after such a bright loan spell last campaign, he deserves much more than he has got thus far in, and this game can give him the chance to show his talent in a natural playmaking role.

The front two would then be the same as above for me, with Rodgers again lacking options due to fitness concerns, namely in the form of Daniel Sturridge, and injury problems, with Christian Benteke still absent.

Danny Ings should start on Sunday and thus be rested on Thursday, with Divock Origi getting a chance to shine alongside teenager Jerome Sinclair.

Ameé's XI - Sion (3-5-2): Bogdan; Touré, Gomez, Cleary; Randall, Allen, Rossiter, Teixeira, Ibe; Origi, Sinclair.


Mosope Ominiyi: Brendan Rodgers' position as manager of Liverpool, is under serious scrutiny. Disappointing displays, frustrating losses and narrowly scraping through on penalties against Carlisle United, was arguably the tipping point of it all. 

However, there's cause for optimism at Anfield. Ahead of their much-awaited Merseyside Derby clash on Sunday, they've got something to take their mind off things - but they'll be hoping to face Everton with back-to-back victories under their belt, you'd be sure of that.

Against Bordeaux, they were nothing special. As you'd expect, their youth players seized their opportunities centre-stage; Pedro Chirivella and Jordan Rossiter looked neat at home in the Reds' midfield, and despite his goal, Adam Lallana was frustrating to watch at times. Showing flashes of the individual brilliance that made Liverpool splash £25m on him but at the same time, lacking the cutting-edge consistency that we've come to expect in recent times.

A four-at-the-back formation is a must. In goal, you'd have to pick Adam Bogdan - if not for him, they'd be out of the Capital One Cup by now. Excellent saves in the shootout kept his side within a chance of some domestic silverware, although you wouldn't fancy their chances against some of the Premier League heavyweights left in the competition as it stands.

The centre-back pairing, would consist of Joe Gomez and Kolo Touré. On the left, Alberto Moreno - and on the right-hand side, give Dan Cleary his debut. There's probably no better time or place for it, at home with welcoming supporters eagerly anticipating what he possesses defensively, it'd make for an intriguing encounter.

Emre Can, Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel are the notable absentees from that defence, and rightly so, considering how many games they've played this season already - with Rodgers keeping an eye ahead of their derby duel with the Toffees. 

In midfield, I'd play a defensive-two, and attacking-two. Although they can move further up the pitch at times, I'd stick with the youthful duo of Chirivella and Rossiter. Ahead of them, on either flank, would be Jordon Ibe and Adam Lallana.

The combination of experience and a distinct lack-of-fear from the former, could be interesting to see. Lallana needs to enjoy a consistent run of games under his belt, whilst Ibe's energetic play style will create plenty of havoc for Sion's backline to ponder throughout.

Up-top, another duo. Divock Origi, and Jerome Sinclair. Sinclair has established himself as one of the club's most promising stars in the past few years, and questions will be asked if he doesn't eventually get to feature on a regular basis for the first-team this term. So, this could be a European debut to savour for the teenager - who makes the u21's look like an effortless breeze in attack. Meanwhile, if ever there was an ideal time to score your first goal for Liverpool, now's the time Divock! 

Mosope's XI - Sion (4-2-2-2): Bogdan; Cleary, Touré, Gomez, Moreno; Rossiter, Chirivella; Lallana, Ibe; Sinclair and Origi. 

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