28 November 2011

Liverpool at Chelsea 11.29.11

2:45pm ET, live in the US only on FoxSoccer.tv, so most of us will have to make do with streams again. There is a delayed showing on Fox Soccer Plus at 5pm ET.

Last four head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (a) 11.20.11
1-0 Liverpool (a) 02.06.11
2-0 Liverpool (h) 11.07.10
0-2 Chelsea (h) 05.02.10

Previous rounds:
Liverpool: 2-1 Stoke (a); 2-1 Brighton (a); 3-1 Exeter (a)
Chelsea: 2-1 Everton [aet] (a); 0-0 Fulham [4-3 pens] (h)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 City (h); 2-1 Chelsea (a); 0-0 Swansea (h)
Chelsea: 3-0 Wolves (h); 1-2 Leverkusen (a); 1-2 Liverpool (h)

Goalscorers (all):
Liverpool: Suarez 7; Carroll 3; Adam, Bellamy, Maxi 2; Gerrard, Henderson, Johnson, Kuyt, Skrtel 1
Chelsea: Lampard, Sturridge 7; Mata, Ramires, Terry, Torres 4; Drogba, Kalou 2; Anelka, Boswinga, Ivanovic, Luiz, Malouda, Meireles 1

Referee: Phil Dowd

Dowd missed his weekend assignment due to illness, but should be available for tomorrow's match.

Guess at a line-up:
Reina
Kelly Carragher Coates Aurelio
Downing Lucas Spearing Maxi
Carroll Bellamy

Been awhile since Liverpool faced this lot, eh? More importantly, it's been awhile since Liverpool had a Carling Cup game at Anfield, forced to travel for all four fixtures this season.

Few starters from Sunday's match seem likely to play with just 48 hours of recovery time. I doubt Dalglish will throw the youth team to the lions, as was threatened when the fixture was announced, but Liverpool will assuredly make multiple changes, and we'll probably see a 'weaker' XI than in previous rounds of the competition. Which Liverpool has taken surprisingly seriously to this point. At least the next match isn't for six days, on Monday at Fulham.

Four players have started all three cup matches to date: Suarez, Maxi, Spearing, and Reina. Of those four, only Suarez seems doubtful, and that's solely down to the amount of games he's played. The only match he hasn't started was the second at Arsenal, way back in August.

Carragher and Coates look likely to renew the pairing which featured in the last two rounds, spelling the outstanding Skrtel and Agger. Either Kelly or Flanagan will replace Johnson on the right, while left-back is harder to forecast – Enrique hasn't played any of the cup games, but Robinson's injured and Aurelio's hasn't yet appeared this season. I doubt we'll see Agger at left back, as against Stoke, which was most likely a one-time occurrence to counter Stoke's height.

Despite his all-action performance on Sunday, Lucas might have to play due to a lack of options in midfield; I'd assume Adam needs the rest more than the Brazilian. Henderson is another possibility, but he also played 90 minutes against City. As said above, Maxi seems certain to take one of the two spots on the wing. Having started the last two league fixtures, Kuyt's unlikely; I expect the right flank to be manned by either Henderson or Downing playing as an inverted winger, as he often did for Villa.

And up top should be Carroll and Bellamy – the former returning to the XI after nearly notching the winner yesterday, the latter back after missing Sunday's match due to compassionate leave. Suarez could take the place of either, but could use the respite given the number of minutes he's played, held in reserve if needed off the bench.

As we'll probably see a weakened lineup from Chelsea as well, I expect Torres to start. Chelsea's other ex-Liverpool man is cup-tied due to his involvement in the win over Exeter, though. Terry got himself suspended with his fifth yellow of the season on Saturday, either to avoid humiliation at Liverpool's hands yet again or because he'd rather miss a Carling Cup match than a league fixture. I'm sure it's one conspiracy or another. The Blues have no injury concerns other than Essien's long-term knee problem.

Like Liverpool, Chelsea's used the cup to give time to their stronger reserves and talented youngsters: Luiz, Alex, Bertrand, Romeu, McEachran, Malouda, Lukaku, and Kalou featured in both fixtures. Both of Chelsea's Carling Cup matches have gone to extra time, winning the first on penalties when Bryan Ruiz missed for Fulham and winning the second when Sturridge scored in the 116th minute.

No matter the restrictions placed by the Football League, hamstrung by the vagaries of scheduling, Dalglish will continue to take this competition as seriously as possible. Only eight teams remain in the competition, and we can be certain that Liverpool will do its utmost to be one of the four left standing after this round.

1 comment:

dARkDevX said...

This is a game where Lucas ought to be rested. We need him over the long haul and playing week in week out is not a good thing.