22 October 2010

Liverpool v Blackburn 10.24.10

10am ET, not live in the US. Delayed on FSC at 5pm. Once again, it's live in Australia at the least, so there should be streams.

Last four head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (h) 02.28.10
0-0 (a) 12.05.09
4-0 Liverpool (h) 04.11.09
3-1 Liverpool (a) 12.06.08

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Napoli (a); 0-2 Everton (a); 1-2 Blackpool (h)
Blackburn: 0-0 Sunderland (h); 0-1 Stoke (a); 2-1 Blackpool (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Gerrard 3; Kuyt, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Torres 1
Blackburn: Kalinic 2; M B Diouf, Emerton, N'Zonzi, Samba 1

Referee: Phil Dowd

Guess at a line-up:
Reina
Kelly Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Meireles Lucas
Maxi Gerrard Cole
Torres

One would assume those rested for yesterday's match would be among the first names on the team sheet for Sunday. Johnson and Agger are both questionable, still carrying injuries (with Johnson more likely to feature), but Torres, Gerrard, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi, and Cole should all come back into the squad. Which means we're probably looking at a similar line-up to the one which lost 0-2 at Goodison. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see a little more impetus at Anfield.

Most of those who played 90 minutes against Napoli don't look likely to start. Specifically, I hope it precludes Poulsen's participation. I wouldn't mind seeing Jovanovic on the right again; he did well as an inside out winger, creating Liverpool's two best chances, but he hasn't started two games in a row for nearly two months, with Napoli his first start since the Northampton farce.

Ideally, Aurelio's 25 minute cameo means he's fit enough for a first start since Trabzonspor. Questions remain over who'll man the other full back spot. Johnson may not be fit and Kelly went the distance in Naples, looking more than winded by full time. As against Everton, we may see Carragher at right back with Kyrgiakos and Skrtel in the middle.

Unsurprisingly, it's been same old, same old from Allardyce's Blackburn. Tough to break down, tough to beat, with a bit of physicality and infuriating personalities (wave to the nice people, El Hadji) thrown in for good measure. Big Sam may have taken offense to Danny Murphy comments about Blackburn's coarseness, but it seemed a case of 'the lady doth protest too much,' hilariously complemented by Christophe Samba picking up a straight red card in the next match, which rules him out of Sunday's contest. No matter what he'd like to believe, Allardyce's teams are always in the same vein, although Newcastle and Blackburn have rarely sunk to the same depths as his Bolton squad.

Blackburn's been stingy in defense all season long, conceding more than once in just two league matches this season – against Birmingham and at Arsenal. Paul Robinson was excellent against Sunderland last Monday with Blackburn down to 10, the difference between a draw and a loss. English u-21 defender Phil Jones has been a revelation at the back. Like Liverpool, they're struggling for goals, with both sides averaging less than one a match having scored seven through eight games. However, Liverpool's conceded 13. Blackburn's let in five less. Nikola Kalinic's becoming a handful up front as a lone striker, finding his feet in the league. He's Blackburn's top scorer with all of two goals, and could pose problems if the defense gives him space. But as has been the case throughout the season, I'm most fearful of the opposition scoring from set plays, especially since Allardyce's sides have always thrived on dead balls and Gamst Pedersen knows how to take a free kick. Having Samba suspended will ease those fears a little, but the threat remains.

A nil-nil draw in Naples was "good enough" to ease some of the criticism in Hodgson's direction. But at Anfield in the league, with the team in 19th, means that much more will be expected. Defending deep, trying not to concede, and hoping for "a little bit of luck" (Hodgson's actual words) in attack won't be enough. Liverpool will actually have to try to win a game for once. It'd be the first in the league since the end of August.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With today's results anything other than a win will leave us 3 points adrift of safety. It's surreal.