A cracking contest awaits us on Sunday at Anfield as we look to prance the League table and it appears we’ve got a boost going into the game as Mario Balotelli has been handed a one-match ban by the Football Association, which takes effect immediately according to the Guardian.
Balotelli was found guilty of a ‘racist’ post via his twitter feed and in addition to the suspension will pay £25,000 as a fine. The maverick Italian has chosen not to appeal the decision, accepting culpability and will therefore miss this weekend’s game.
It means Brendan Rodgers will have a man less to challenge us on Sunday even as they will try to build on the win over Bournemouth in the League Cup. The Reds have struggled this season to keep up with the impressive form of last year which nearly brought them a first League Title in more than two decades. A defeat at Old Trafford last weekend saw them slip further off the European places and it will be on Wenger’s mind to pile on more pressure on his opposite number.
Balotelli has, arguably, been the more ineffective of the summer recruits made by Rodgers and it may even be argued that the Kop fans won’t see him as a miss for the game. Still without a goal in the Premier League, the 24-year old Italian has not justified his £16m tag and looks more and more a missed bullet for Wenger, who had been linked with him especially after his winning goal against England in the World Cup. That said, it would have been on his mind to prove himself in such a big game and to show that we had missed a trick on him. His substitute appearance at Old Trafford was fairly impressive and would have got Liverpool back into the game save for the reflexes of United’s goalkeeper David de Gea.
The Italian’s absence counts as the second player to be ruled out for Liverpool within the past week as they are set to also be without right back Glen Johnson, who went off at Old Trafford with a groin injury. The 30-year old has been trusted by the Kop boss as one of the leaders in the team, as this is his sixth season with the Reds since joining from Pompey in 2009. Though recently very prone to giving away possession to the opponents, he still forms the base of the Liverpool back four, while his attacking instincts are still of great value to their attacking style.
Rodgers will probably utilize Raheem Sterling as a false nine again in the Balotelli’s absence while it could be on-loan Atletico Madrid youngster, Javier Manquillo to step into the right back role on Sunday.
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