The Light Blues have lost all three of their opening matches, against Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax, and will now be hoping to put points on the board for the first time this season.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men come up against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds at Ibrox and head into the match off the back of a 4-0 win over St. Mirren in the Premiership.
Antonio Colak scored twice, with goals from James Tavernier and Fashion Sakala rounding off the scoring, and the Dutch manager will be hoping that his side can use some of the confidence gained from that game to inspire a positive performance in Europe.
One player the boss must brutally ditch from the starting XI, however, is attacking midfielder Scott Arfield, after a string of disappointing displays on the pitch.
The former Canada international has started four of the club’s last five matches in all competitions and the Light Blues head coach must now drop him from the team as he has not offered enough on or off the ball to warrant a place in the XI.
In those four starts against St Mirren, Napoli, Dundee United, and Hearts, he lost 23 of his 28 individual duels and failed to provide a single assist or goal. This means that he did not offer much quality in the final third and struggled out of possession as he was dominated in physical duels by all four teams that he faced.
These are not new issues for the former Burnley man as he lost 64% of his battles and produced four goal contributions in 29 appearances, whilst missing nine ‘big chances’ from midfield in the Premiership last season.
Journalist Josh Bunting previously lamented his “dreadful” finishing earlier this term and the aforementioned statistics suggest that he is likely to be found wanting in a similar fashion in front of goal if he is presented with a chance against the Reds.
The £16k-per-week midfielder is, therefore, a liability to the team as he is too easily bullied in individual duels and does not provide a consistently reliable end product in the final third. He is unreliable at both ends of the pitch and Liverpool could expose his weaknesses on both sides of the game in the match tonight.
This is why van Bronckhorst should consider ditching him from the starting XI for this game as his statistics do not suggest that he has the ability, or current form, to make a positive impact in the game from the start.