19 September 2008

Liverpool v Stoke City 09.20.08

10am Eastern Time, live in the US on Setanta.

Last 4 head-to-head:
8-0 Liverpool (a; League Cup) 11.29.2000
2-1 Liverpool (h; League Cup) 10.25.1994
3-2 Liverpool (a; League Cup) 10.09.1991
2-2 (h; League Cup) 09.25.1991

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Marseille (a); 2-1 United (h); 0-0 Villa (a)
Stoke: 2-3 Everton (h); 1-2 Boro (a); 3-2 Cheltenham (a)

Referee: Andre Marriner. Sigh. Since ynwa.tv doesn’t have a post up, I’ll quickly summarize. Marriner was at the helm for Liverpool’s first league loss last season at Reading, ignoring two very good penalty shouts, as well as the draw at Boro. I do not like Andre Marriner.

Guess at a squad:
Reina
Arbeloa Skrtel Hyypia Dossena
Kuyt Gerrard Alonso Riera
Torres Keane

I really could either way with the line-up. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of the 4-2-3-1, and was very glad to see it back on Tuesday.

However, I would be very surprised if Benitez doesn’t return to the 4-4-2 for league play, especially with Liverpool at home against a promoted (but clearly dangerous) team. Plus, I would be very, very surprised to see the £19.3m Keane on the bench for two matches in a row.

As both Gerrard and Torres returned last match, each playing a bit more than an hour, both should be fit and available on Saturday, and if that’s the case, both should start.

That Riera, Keane, and Alonso were on the bench, but fit, makes me think we’ll see all three on from the start on Saturday, with Babel most likely reprising his role off the bench. Even with the Dutchman’s continued development, I’d be surprised if Benitez gave him two starts in the space of five days. It was very hard to leave Mascherano out of my guess at a line-up – I can’t imagine how hard it is for Rafa – but his defensive mopping-up shouldn’t be as needed as it was against either United or Marseille, and he did have that knee problem against United.

I also know it’s a sin to omit Carragher from any line-up, but Skrtel’s played very well of late and both his and Hyypia’s aerial presence will be needed against Stoke, especially against the long throw they used so well against Everton last week. I highly doubt Hyypia would miss a game like this, especially since he’s not on the CL roster.

As said earlier, Liverpool cannot underrate Stoke. They may lie in 19th, but they beat a team that Liverpool could only draw (and failed to score against), and gave both Boro and Everton a real run for their money. Liverpool’s susceptibility on set plays, even if it hasn’t been an issue so far this season, really frightens me with Delap’s long throws.

It was said best in the sub-headline on the official site’s article with Benitez’ pre-match quotes: “Rafael Benitez admits last week's triumph over Manchester United will count for nothing if his side fail to beat Barclays Premier League newcomers Stoke City tomorrow.”

The last two wins were absolutely enormous for the club – both the results and the confidence boost – especially the one six days ago. Leaving Anfield without three points tomorrow would throw almost all of that hard work away.

14 comments:

Paul Heron said...

As long as the lads don't take them for granted, and secure all 3 points, I'll be a very happy man :-)

Abhiram said...

Would be a good game to watch. Don't get me wrong ( in the sence, we are not playing as well as we should) but i expect us to beat them 3-0 to 4-0 tomorrow. No offence to Stoke but, well, we are LIVERPOOL and they are Stoke for Gods's sake! We should expect that, shouldn't we?

Hope we go with mentality on the pitch. Anything other than a win is disaster!

Mike Georger said...

has to be agger, has to be. we cannot afford to crouch this guy.

pair him with sami, stoke has good height on their squad.

still, 3-0 minimum

nate said...

yeah, you're prolly right, georger. i went back and forth on agger/skrtel, and yeah, you're right - liverpool can't afford to freeze out agger. i know, and agree with, the whole 'no one's more important than the team,' but on form, agger's a simply top class cb.

however, i've been wicked impressed by skrtel pretty much every match he's played since the havant debut.

Mike Georger said...

skrtel and agger in three years time should be the premier central defense in europe. but agger has to get games, if that means pushing carra out right or dropping skrtel every few games then so be it. i dont think sami will be around after this year so as long as we can keep agger happy for this season we will be okay, then have three primary central defenders next season with guys like hobbs waiting

Ibracadabra said...

with Riera in the team now, will Benayoun ever get more than the odd 30 minutes?

A supreme talent just absolutely wasted. He's not even a natural left winger.

Mike Georger said...

with all the cup games yossi will get time, but as he was luis' replacement and after luis left our formation went to such that a CAM doesnt really fit, there isnt a true space for him.

however his speed and creativity are great from the bench and against lesser competitions. i was a big proponent of his at west ham and though his season last year was quite under appreciated, but i cant think he stays longer than this year.

Abhiram said...

I have heard a lot about Stoke and alike teams prefer to fill their 6 yard box in numbers and defend. So, we need creativity to get goals. They also are good in dead ball scenario and throw-ins which means Hyypia's inclusion is almost a necessity.

We also need to play Agger as he might start getting pissed off.

I was thinking on those lines when i thought why not go with a 3-5-2 formations for matches like these.

Stoke are a threat from throw-ins, corners etc where dead-ball tactics will come to the fore but they lack danger in the flanks or direct play. Hence we can play 3 CB who are good in aerial play.

For the creativity needed to win these kind of games we can play with a 5 man midfield with 3 CM. My choice of the team in this formation would be

Reina
Agger-Carragher/Skrtel-Hyypia
Kuyt-Gerard-Mascherano-Alonso-Riera
Keane-Torres

Seeing this formation, i feel it would be a very good bet against teams like these.

What do you guys say?

Mike Georger said...

woooooow

Mike Georger said...

this is worse than last years fa cup. you cannot fucking drop points at home to newcomers. everyone should be ashamed

Abhiram said...

This is devastating!

Very bad result for us.
So many scoring chances were missed by Keane, Torres and Kuyt!!! Not seen Torres wasting so many chances in one match.

Irrespective of what happens to Manc and Chelsea game, we will not see any advantage coming our way. As i said about down counting to the end of the premiership, 2 Draws down, 3 to go.

Mike Georger said...

wow 19 fucking corners. i mean really when was the last time we scored from a header? sami against fulham two years ago? they either take them short or send them straight to the opposition

im just trembling with anger right now. nothing has changed. nothing. so much goddamn money invested and nothing.

Abhiram said...

Hitting the nail on the head Mike!

But i still don't get the reason why we are still trying long balls for Keane and Torres to head when we don't have good presence like Crouch in the hole. If we do get a goal with a header, fine, but we should try playing the short passing game!
I felt Hyypia should have played today. Saying this, the team which was put on the field today was more than capable of winning against Stoke! In other words, Rafa's rotation shit should not crop up this time around.

Mike Georger said...

rotating the players no, rotating the formation, yes. the 4-4-2 doesnt work with our midfield.

dirk works hard, thats great. but his strengths are throwing in some defense and getting into the box. playing against a team that isnt attacking the first is wasted, and playing him as a winger negates the latter.

as much as i have hated on pennant, his pace could have been great against a team that is not very quick.

either that or tell your captain to fucking suck it up and play on the right where he had his best ever season.