Liverpool have confirmed their starting eleven for the game against AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow tonight in the FA Cup third round.
The Reds have seen a series of Premier League rivals progress to the fourth round, including Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, and will be hopeful of a similar result against lower league opposition.
Tonight’s game is the first time the two teams have faced off since Wimbledon’s rebirth following the move of the club’s share in the Football League to Milton Keynes.
However, Wimbledon have been granted the history of the club that existed before and played in south London, meaning that the fixture today is a rematch of the 1988 FA Cup final, which the Dons famously won 1-0.
Brendan Rodgers has named a strong side for tonight’s game, including former Southampton man Rickie Lambert and Phillipe Coutinho.
Adam Lallana misses out as a result of injury. Mario Balotelli returns to the bench.
Sampdoria are keen to bring Liverpool misfit Mario Balotelli to Serie A in the January transfer window, with the potential of them offering the Reds goalkeeper Sergio Romero in a swap deal to secure the striker.
Balotelli has struggled since his arrival at Anfield, and has not scored in the Premier League, having signed for the Merseyside club for £16 million towards the end of the summer transfer window.
Brendan Rodgers has also repeatedly admitted that Balotelli does not fit into a high intensity system in recent weeks, with intensity being a key element that Liverpool have tried to reintroduce to their game in recent weeks.
As a result, it’s becoming increasingly unclear as to why Liverpool made a move for Balotelli in the summer, given that the manager does not rate him particularly, and has said he will likely be a substitute going forward.
Sampdoria are keen to exploit this lack of certainty over his future and place in the side by capturing him, according to The Guardian.
A move back to Serie A could appeal to Balotelli, and Liverpool would like be happy to receive a goalkeeper they have an interest in in Romero as exchange.
Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola has poured water on the flames linking Balotelli with a move back to Inter Milan in January, as reported by the Daily Express.
The Liverpool summer signing had been linked with a switch back to his former side, especially given the appointment of Roberto Mancini.
The two worked closely together when Mancini was previously in charge of the Italian giants, and Mancini emerged as one of Balotelli’s biggest advocates despite his controversial incidents.
Mancini even brought Balotelli to English football in the first place, signing him for Manchester City and involving him in the side that won the title.
As a result, many thought that Balotelli might cut short his troubled spell at Liverpool and reunite a manager who clearly has significant faith in him.
However, his agent, famed for his representation of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and willingness to push for a move, has denied this possibility.
He said:”A return to Inter? Impossible.”Not because of Mancini but for other reasons which I don’t want to talk about.
“He won’t go to Napoli either. Mario doesn’t return to Italy.”