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Question Time: Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers

We spoke to Noel from Liverpool Offside to get some information on Saturday's opponents. This is what he says.

Taller than Jay Spearing?
Taller than Jay Spearing?
David Rogers/Getty Images

1. English football supporters in general, and Liverpool fans in particular, love to find a scapegoat. So who ended up getting most of the blame for the club's poor start this season?

Dejan Lovren, Brendan Rodgers, and the mysterious transfer committee. In no particular order. Though I think there are some fairly solid reasons that go into all three having taken the blame. Or at least the first two. Nobody really knows what the transfer committee is, who's on it, and how much of a say it may or may not have actually had in the club's various dealings in the market, so when it gets brought up as a reason for the first half's struggles there's perhaps a bit of a whiff of scapegoating to it.

As far as the other two go, Lovren was the club's most expensive defensive signing of all time and his arrival meant fan favourite Daniel Agger was forced out to make room. Despite being the club's most expensive defensive signing of all time, having Premier League experience, and having been brought in specifically because he was supposed to have a boatload of the qualities that would solve the club's defensive woes, Liverpool's defence became markedly worse with Lovren in it.

And it stayed worse for the four months he was a nailed-on starter prone to wandering out of position and making horrifying basic mental errors. He was brought in to be the defensive leader, and instead he was popping up all over the pitch with no regard to situation or teammate positioning. He also liked to impersonate Steven Gerrard by trying to hit Hollywood balls over the top. They rarely came off. But he did shout a lot, which is sort of leader-y if you squint. Still, his signing has so far been a disaster and he's taken a lot of the blame for Liverpool's first half struggles.

As for Rodgers, as much as the recent improvement is thanks to the changes he's made, his stubborn refusal not to make changes for four months was key to those struggles: to play Gerrard as a holding midfielder despite that it wasn't working; to keep playing Lovren despite that he wasn't working; to keep throwing the same misfiring strikers out to flounder as they failed to convincingly impersonate Luis Suarez in a system that was almost wholly designed to get the best out of Luis Suarez.

2. Given the mid-week exertions against Chelsea and the club's desire to finish in the top 4, will the manager choose his best 11 on Saturday, or will we be seeing a reserve team?

There will be some rotation. Or at least there should be. Rodgers has taken some heat amongst Liverpool fans for what at times can seem a stubborn resistance to squad rotation, but all signs leading into the match are that there will be at least four or five changes made. Raheem Sterling seems likely to get the night off, as does Lucas Leiva, which removes the attacking threat and midfield foundation that has been key to the recent turnaround, and there could be wholesale changes across the backline. At the very least, we're expecting to see Dejan Lovren given another chance at the back after having been frozen out for most of the past six weeks.

3. I just did a Google search to get to Liverpool Offside, and you guys came up before the club's official website. How do you stay so humble in the face of so much fame and (I can only assume) fortune?

What's a Google?

4. You know, we have barely used Jay Spearing. Really, he is like new. How about you just give us our money back, and we give you back Merseyside's favorite son?

Well, he would make a more palatable mascot than Mighty Red. Unfortunately, having spent all the monies over the summer, there's nothing happening for us this window, so unless you want to send him back to us on loan you're going to have to find a bit of cash for him from elsewhere.

5. Can we have a prediction for Saturday?

The side that scores more goals will win the match, and if neither side scores more goals there will be a replay. If, following regular and extra time in the replay neither side has scored more goals, it will go to penalties, after which the side that scores more penalties will move on to the next round.

If you want more of this type of keen insight on footballing matters you can find Noel at @LFCOffside on Twitter and on Liverpool Offside from SBNation.  My answers to his questions can be found here.