14 October 2011

Liverpool v United 10.15.11

7:45am ET, live in the US on espn2

Last four head-to-head:
3-1 Liverpool (h) 03.06.11
0-1 United (a; FA Cup) 01.09.11
2-3 United (a) 09.19.10
1-2 United (a) 03.21.10

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 Everton (a); 2-1 Wolves (h); 2-1 Brighton (a)
United: 2-0 Norwich (h); 3-3 Basle (h); 1-1 Stoke (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 4; Adam, Carroll, Henderson, Skrtel 1
United: Rooney 9; Nani, Welbeck 3; Anderson, Chicharito, Young 2; Park, Smalling 1

Referee: Andre Marriner

Guess at a line-up:
Reina
Johnson Carragher Agger Enrique
Lucas Adam
Kuyt Gerrard Downing
Suarez

Suarez and Carroll in the 4-2-2-2, or more like a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with Gerrard supposedly, finally fit to start?

The above is the same front six I guessed last week, expecting/hoping Liverpool would keep it tight in midfield at Goodison. With Gerrard even more likely to figure, it's less of a pipe dream. But that Dalglish has almost always gone with a 4-2-2-2, Gerrard or no Gerrard, remains an important hint. Gerrard could replace Adam, keeping the same formation, or Carroll, changing to the above 4-5-1 derivative. While it's been pleasing to see Carroll start to shift people's preconceived perceptions and find a decent vein of form, I think he's probably odd man out. Regardless, I'm still incredibly interested as to how Captain Fantastic fits into this side. It's somewhat unfortunate that the first opportunity comes against the Mancs.

If Dalglish says everyone's fit, I'm more than tempted to take him at his word (which may not be the brightest idea in the run-up to United). And I'd be quite happy to see Agger and Johnson reclaim starting spots: Agger because of the solidity and composure he offers Liverpool's defense, Johnson because of his greater ability on the overlap whether paired with Kuyt or Henderson. However, returning two players from injury seems a bold move before facing the Mancs. Kelly, even considering the knock suffered while with the u21s and Skrtel could well keep their places. If only one makes it, I'd guess that Johnson is further along the road to recovery than Agger simply due to their respective injury time-frames.

And as an annoying aside, two of Liverpool's most important players are on short rest after flying back from the Americas on Wednesday. Not that it should preclude either's participation. Just an irritating, hopefully unimportant fact of life. At least similar is the case for United's Chicharito, Fabio, and Valencia.

United have dropped points in just one of their seven league matches so far: a draw at Stoke three weeks ago. England's hero, villain, and comic relief Wayne Rooney is in blistering form, having tallied nine goals already this season. But the Mancs are also fallable: conceding the equalizer at Stoke, letting a two-goal Old Trafford lead slip to Basle in the Champions League, and struggling before ultimately finishing off Norwich in the last league fixture. In Rooney, Nani, Young, and Chicharito (or Welbeck), United have a superlative attacking quartet. But with Anderson and Carrick in midfield, and a clutch of promising but problematic defenders, United are also vulnerable. Right-back continues to be an issue, with round pegs Valencia, Smalling, or Jones to be crammed into that square hole, giving greater importance to Downing and Enrique (as well as Suarez, who loves working the left channel). As for injuries, Cleverly and Rafael are out, while Smalling and Vidic will be game-time decisions. I would imagine that everyone's favorite Serbian will be incredibly excited to revisit the scene of so many torments.

The home team has won the last five meetings between the sides – going back to that splendiferous 4-1 at Old Trafford – and Liverpool have beaten United in the last three meetings at Anfield. Which is a stat that frightens more than it reassures. United will already be up for this match – with Ferguson again stating it's the biggest match of the league campaign – and I'm sure Slur Alex has bemoaned United's recent Anfield record more than once in training this week. This three-match win streak is Liverpool's best run over United at Anfield since winning nine straight between 1972 and 1979.

These games are nerve-wracking in the extreme, just like Liverpool's last league contest. There has been no easing-in process this season, no time to wade around the shallow end before trying to swim in deep waters; Liverpool have had tough match after tough match from the start of the campaign. This will be more of the same and, considering the opposition, much much more at the same time.

7 comments:

ErictheRed said...

Please delete this if you want, I still enjoy your work.

Could the karma for this one be any worse? John W/FSG and his back-stabbing poison running rampant in Boston. Fucking Bron-Bron and his entourage attending the game. I totally forgot they were minority owners, couldn't the Glazers have grabbed him? Top it off with a completely indefensible stance on revenue sharing that even the Mancs wouldn't be part of. You want to be more like La Liga!?!?! Disloyalty, arrogance and greed. Maybe the return of Stevie G and some Suarez passion can neutralize it, but I feel like a Yankee fan.

nate said...

Doesn't offend, certainly not planning on deleting, but don't understand the vitriol. But that's because I couldn't care less about the Red Sox and I'm not bothered by LeBron owning a minority share.

As long as FSG aren't airing the club's dirty laundry in public on that side of the ocean, manipulating the media and knifing scapegoats in public, doesn't affect me. And if you can ignore how distasteful the business of sport is in general, LeBron owning a small share can only benefit Liverpool, exposing his fans to the "brand" and using him as an in-road to a greater American audience. LeBron gets business credibility and a free Anfield tour. No big deal.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

So, I am a little in the dark on the latest revenue sharing debate in EPL. I understand some teams want to have it like La Liga, is this what FSG has reportedly said they would like?

I know Nate likes to stick to strictly football but some of the boardroom news from liverpool on such issues would be nice to find here as I would rather check here than other websites for my LPOOL news.

Bron Bron can follow and invest in Liverpool. The dude is talented and wants to win. He has plenty of money and isn't playing for Liverpool so take it easy on the investor. I hate it when people give your club money and a fan talks bad about them. Not like Lebron has any say or ownership in pool, just a supporter who donates more money than you Eric.

drew said...

LeBron James having a Liverpool stake helps the team not only in America, but enormously in Asia as well, and not insignificantly in a number of European countries (Spain, Italy, Lithuania, former Yugoslavia, etc.) where the Euro League is big. It is a shrewd partnership on both sides.

Also, LeBron is pretty obviously a pantomime villain the way he's handled here in the States; unless someone was actually from Cleveland I can't understand why they'd find him infuriating unless they just imbibe ESPN 24/7, which itself would be evidence of some pretty big psychological problems.

Anyway, as to the match, encouraging that Ferguson is finally telling his lot to knock off the Hillsborough chants. Not that a) he shouldn't have done it years ago, and every time out; and b) it'll make any difference, but at least he's not tacitly encouraging it through silence or feigned ignorance this time. Think it must be the ludicrous Tory stonewalling that is showing him just how big a loser it is, else I can't imagine him making that kind of statement. Still, our responsibility is to applaud him (for this alone, obviously), and knock out the Munich shit.

Really afraid of Rooney having a blinder tomorrow, he often seems to in times of trouble. That said, really fancy Suarez--well, generally, but specifically that weak United right side. Would be perfect to puncture the United hype tomorrow.

One more: I haven't been paying attention, so can anyone tell me why we're scheduled to play a friendly vs. Rangers midweek?

ErictheRed said...

That was over the top, should have used the edit. Happy hour started early. As for FSG, I started worrying how they'll react if a Champions League spot isn't secured. I really thought the new owners were better than that.

LeBron's the most talented player on the planet, I just wish he'd work on his post up game as much as he tries to be a global icon. I guess his image can only help globally, as long as Nike let's him. Was thinking about the 50 closeups he ll get tomorrow on espn. Sorry, should have been focusing on the important stuff. What a game to wake up to.

Anonymous said...

Eric

I remember when players used to get paid for what the did. Now, in every sport, everyone is paid on potential. Usually with the percentages favoring the young who do not fulfill said potential. It had brought the NBA to a labor lockout with teams banking on 18-19 yr olds and in Europe it has caused players who haven't even played one game of top level football to be worth more than entire team salaries. It is a bad business model.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering... who here believes Neymar would pair perfectly with Suarez? What are any of your opinions on Neymar? Is he the next real megastar of football or just hype?