by Dave Usher for ESPN
What formation will Liverpool line up in this weekend against Cardiff City? Any ideas?
Of course we can all make an educated guess, but such has been the tactical tinkering of Brendan Rodgers this season that there are any number of permutations he could spring on the unsuspecting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
This tactical flexibility has served Liverpool well all season. At various points throughout this campaign the Reds have played 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 3-4-1-2 and, most recently, a 4-4-2 midfield diamond. They've won games using all of them and it must be a nightmare for opposing coaches to try and plan for.
In addition to the changes in system, the innovative Liverpool boss will make subtle changes from game to game based on what he sees from the opposition. For example, Raheem Sterling was used on the right against Everton to exploit the space Leighton Baines leaves when he ventures forward, but against Arsenal, Sterling was coming in from the left flank -- the idea being to exploit the lack of pace of Per Mertesacker. Both worked to perfection.
In potentially tricky away games at Southampton and Manchester United, the Liverpool boss switched to a midfield diamond and was rewarded with consecutive 3-0 victories. No doubt he'll have looked at Cardiff's strengths and weaknesses and will have already come up with a strategy for that game.
Cardiff are not as accomplished as Southampton and don’t possess the individual talent of Manchester United, so it's far from certain than Rodgers will adopt an "if it ain’t broke, then don't fix it" approach to team selection. Joe Allen has come into the side and performed well but his inclusion has meant Rodgers having to leave out either Sterling or Philippe Coutinho, who had both excelled in the wins over Arsenal and Everton.
Perhaps he'll go all guns blazing once again this weekend, or maybe he'll retain the same 11 players who started at Old Trafford but deploy them in a different system?
It's impossible to say because Rodgers has mixed things up to great effect all season, especially since the turn of the year when Liverpool began an incredible run.
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