ANFIELD (Sporting Alert) — Liverpool have stunningly dropped captain Steven Gerrard for today’s English Premier League clash at home with Stoke City.
Gerrard has been criticized heavily in recent weeks, following a series of ineffective outings, but he still will be disappointed to be dropped to the bench by his manager Brendan Rodgers.
Former England striker Gary Lineker said on BBC Sport: “Steven Gerrard is on the bench.
“It’s sort of what happens when you get towards the end of your career. You need the odd rest. No big deal!”
It was supposed to be a special moment for the club’s idol, who on this day, made his senior Reds debut 16 years-ago.
So he was expected to start.
However, Rodgers explained that he needed to give his skipper a rest as the team prepares for a number of games to come in a short period of time.
“We have lots of game in a short period of days so we’ve just made a few changes to freshen up the team,” Rodgers said.
“Steven Gerrard has been a fantastic player and still is, but at this stage of his career he can’t play every game.”
There were reports that Jordan Henderson would have been dropped as well, but the England midfielder starts and will play alongside Lucas and Joe Allen in the Liverpool three-man midfield.
Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling will both play support to Rickie Lambert, who continues to lead the attack.
Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Dejan Lovren are all on the bench with Gerrard as well.
Marko Arnautovic comes into the starting team for Stoke City, who are without winger Victor Moses, who suffered an injury in the defeat to Burnley last week.
Defenders Marc Wilson and Erik Pieters both start as well for Mark Hughes’ side.
Liverpool v Stoke City
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Toure, Jose Enrique, Lucas, Allen, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Lambert. Subs: Brad Jones, Lovren, Gerrard, Moreno, Lallana, Can, Markovic
Stoke: Begovic, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Sidwell, Nzonzi, Walters, Bojan, Arnautovic, Diouf. Subs: Muniesa, Whelan, Ireland, Adam, Butland, Crouch, Shenton
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)