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Pressure Test: The Bournemouth Preview

The heat is on going into our League Cup tie against Bournemouth on Wednesday

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

US: 2:45PM BeIN Sport

UK: 7:45PM Sky Sports 1

Brendan Rodgers has admitted he'll play a strong side following our defeat to Man United, while the 45 minutes for Mario Balotelli at Old Trafford could prove to be important in terms of where he figures in this match. Kolo Toure played 75 minutes at Castle Greyskull after Glen Johnson was taken off early, while hopefully Raheem Sterling will be pushed back out wide or behind the striker, and maybe even rested for the weekend, after an unimpressive shooting performance against our bitter rivals.

As mentioned above, Glen Johnson is injured after having a decent run of games, which could allow Javier Manquillo a shot at the spot for the forseeable future, who hasn't been seen since being taken off at half time in our win against Leicester at the start of the month. Mamadou Sakho could finally make his way back in this game as well after being out since October, but will likely be eased back into action after such a long lay off.

Emre Can is likely to get a game, most likely in place of Henderson ahead of the weekend's big encounter with Arsenal. He played well against Chelsea in November but hasn't really been seen since, Lucas may come back in for Joe Allen, who played the full 90 at the weekend, while Phillipe Coutinho and Lazar Markovic give us attacking options. One thing's for sure. It'll be Brad Jones in goal as Rodgers has dropped Simon Mignolet "indefintely" after his increasingly poor displays.

Bournemouth aren't a side to be taken lightly. They're top of the Championship table after a great start to the season. Their most recent performance being a 5-3 win over Cardiff City. All their players are playing reasonably well, with striker Callum Wilson among them. He has 12 goals in 23 appearances, and will be important for them.

The Reds visited Bournemouth in January of last year, where we picked up a 2-0 win on a largely unimpressive day. The fans for Bournemouth were hugely important. They never let their team's heads drop, and we go into this match expecting much of the same. Their manager has said that he doesn't underestimate us, despite our poor form of late, and that this, of course, is a massive game for them. It wouldn't be too far out to say that this is also a massive game for us as well. A lot of things ride on this, for the players, for the manager and even the club as a whole heading into the festive period.

Key matchups will include Callum Wilson with the likes of Kolo Toure and/or Dejan Lovren, after Lovren's noticeably poor displays have left him out of favor with the fans and manager alike. Whether players like Coutinho or Markovic can indeed provide the spark we need is another thing that will be interesting. Both players have been misfiring as of late and it may well be up to who gets the rub of the green.

-Other thoughts

Well... We know what we need to do. We can't afford to be cute about this anymore. We need ruthlessness. Strength, vigor, and passion. All these things've been lacking this season and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we're sick of it. (Johnathan)