Balotelli and Sturridge should start against Besiktas, says Liverpool legend
John Aldridge wants Brendan Rodgers to give the Liverpool strikers a chance
John Aldridge says he wants to see Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge start upfront for Liverpool in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Reds pair haven’t started together since a 3-0 demolition of Spurs at White Hart Lane in August, which was arguably the club’s best performance this season.
Aldridge believes Thursday’s home tie against Besiktas is the perfect chance to see if the Liverpool duo can build a strike partnership after having showed their potential in north London.
“I’d attack them by playing Mario Balotelli alongside Daniel Sturridge in attack. I think this game, a home game against a team that will be wary of Anfield, is the perfect opportunity to see if that partnership can develop,” Aldridge wrote in his Liverpool Echo column.
“We saw against Spurs and in the second half against Crystal Palace last weekend, that there are signs of a relationship there. Sturridge was a lot better once Balotelli was on the pitch.”
Liverpool are facing a tough battle for a top-four finish in the Premier League, and winning the Europa League could be a better alternative in the Reds’ quest for a Champions League place.
For the first time this year, the winners of the competition will be awarded with a place in the play-offs of Europe’s premier club competition.
Liverpool will know Besiktas won’t be pushovers after Arsenal limped to a 1-0 aggregate win against the Turkish side in the Champions League play-offs this season.
Aldridge added: “Besiktas won’t be an easy game by any means, and there is a lot of onus on the home leg in this tie.
“My thinking is that Liverpool should go on the front foot from the start, and that means two up front.”
Liverpool’s form has been picking up in recent months, and they now find themselves only four points adrift of fourth-placed Southampton.