Liverpool must be careful not to overlook a Sunday match with Premier League bottomfeeders Queens Park Rangers as they look ahead to a Champions League match with Real Madrid in three days time.
They hit the road to take on QPR from Loftus Road at 8:30am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra, with both sides hoping for a boost in the table after disappointing starts for their respective aspirations.
The Reds are sitting dead center of the table in 10th, and Brendan Rodgers has been baffled by a lack of deadly instinct and cutting edge that gave them a berth in Europe’s top competition last season.
Rodgers has grown tired of an international break dogged by off-the-field issues with Raheem Sterling’s fitness, and will be happy to get back on the field.
Sterling is in the starting lineup, and will pair with Adam Lallana to support Mario Balotelli. Emre Can also makes the starting lineup for the first time this season, and the injured Lazar Markovic returns to the matchday squad on the bench.
WATCH LIVE: QPR vs. Liverpool on NBC Sports Live Extra
QPR have yet to pick themselves off the bottom of the table, and Harry Redknapp has begun to deal with weekly questions about his job security despite insisting he has nothing to worry about yet.
Rangers are missing some key players, biggest of which is goalkeeper Robert Green who is ill, so Alex McCarthy starts between the sticks.
Joey Barton and Jordan Mutch remain on the sidelines with hamstring injuries, while defender Rio Ferdinand is only fit enough for the bench and has given the captain’s armband to Bobby Zamora with Clint Hill not available.
QPR: McCarthy; Isla, Onuoha, Dunne, Caulker, Suk-Young; Sandro, Fer, Henry; Austin, Zamora.
Bench: Murphy, Traore, Ferdinand, Phillips, Kranjcar, Hoilett, Vargas.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Enrique; Gerrard, Can, Henderson; Lallana, Sterling, Balotelli.
Bench: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Allen, Markovic, Coutinho, Lambert.