30 October 2012

Liverpool v Swansea 10.31.12

4pm ET, not on live anywhere as far as I can tell. And so far, I can't find any sign of streams. If something shows up, you'll probably hear about it on Twitter. I'm skeptical. And if there are no streams, there will be no match review. We'll find out tomorrow, I guess.

Last four head-to-head:
0-1 Swansea (a) 05.13.12
0-0 (h) 11.05.11
8-0 Liverpool (home; FA Cup) 01.09.90
0-0 (a; FA Cup) 01.06.90

Earlier Rounds:
Liverpool: 2-1 West Brom (a)
Swansea: 3-2 Crawley Town (a); 3-1 Barnsley (h)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 Everton (a); 1-0 Anzhi (h); 1-0 Reading (h)
Swansea: 0-1 City (a); 2-1 Wigan (h); 2-2 Reading (h)

Goalscorers (all):
Liverpool: Suarez 8; Şahin, Shelvey 3; Downing, Gerrard 2; Borini, Coates, Johnson, Skrtel, Sterling, Wisdom 1
Swansea: Michu 7; Graham 3; Dyer, Moore, Routledge 2; Monk, Pablo, Rangel 1

Referee: Lee Probert

Terrified of jinxing it, but Probert is one of my favorite referees in the division.

Guess at a line-up:
Jones
Wisdom Coates Carragher Robinson
Henderson Şahin
Shelvey
Downing Yesil Assaidi

Tomorrow's XI will probably look a lot like Liverpool's side in the last round against West Brom.

Reina and Johnson are definitely out, each attempting to recover from their respective injuries in time for Sunday's match against Newcastle. Similarly, I expect that Liverpool's biggest names will finally be given a rest – as hoped for prior to last week's Europa League tie. Suarez seemingly can't start again. Gerrard seemingly can't start again. In fact, most players who featured against Everton, especially if they also played against Anzhi, probably shouldn't start again. Sunday's match was simply too ferocious, too draining.

That said, Johnson's injury, along with Wisdom's substitution on Sunday, means the 19-year-old is odds on for a fifth consecutive start. Flanagan, reportedly back from injury, may also be in contention, but he hasn't seen a minute of action this season, limited to one bench appearance in the first leg against Hearts. In theory, Carragher's another alternative on the right, but, I mean, really? Let's not go there. He and Coates will most likely resume their second-choice partnership, allowing Rodgers to rest both Skrtel and Agger. Robinson should reclaim the left-back role after Enrique's busy performance against Everton.

Şahin is another who could also feature from the beginning despite starting on Sunday. Hauled off at halftime, seemingly unable to cope with the frenetic "is this really football?" atmosphere, the midfielder continues to need match practice to adjust to the English game. Henderson looks certain to be involved – although I wrote that before the Anzhi match as well – while Shelvey seems the most likely third. Pacheco is on the periphery, involved in the first Europa League match as well as the last round of this competition, and could play as the most-advanced midfielder, on the flanks, or as a false nine. And Joe Cole's still kicking around Melwood somewhere. Wherever you are in the world, you're likely to hear me scream if Gerrard's involved, and similar goes for Joe Allen, despite the attraction of starting him against his former club.

Like in the Europa League, I expect to see Downing and Assaidi on the flanks. And, if Suarez is finally rested, it'd seemingly have to be Yesil up front, as against West Brom earlier in this competition. Pacheco as a false nine, as against Young Boys, is a more remote possibility, but wasn't a successful experiment in Switzerland. That the NextGen Series also takes place tomorrow complicates matters. The other young forward who's seen action with the first team – Adam Morgan – is part of the NextGen squad. Yesil is not, nor is over-age Michael Ngoo, who hasn't trained with the first team as far as I know. Of course, Suso, Sterling, and Wisdom are also eligible, but I doubt they'll be involved in any of the NextGen matches given their importance to the senior squad.

Still ahead of Liverpool in the table, if just, Swansea have tailed off after a fast start in the league, losing three in a row without scoring after taking seven points and scoring 10 goals in the opening three matches. Laudrup has steadied the ship since, with a slightly unfortunate draw against Reading, a victory over Wigan, and a narrow, disappointing loss to Manchester City on Saturday.

Swansea played slightly weakened sides in its two earlier League Cup matches, against Barnsley and Crawley Town, mixing usual first-team starters with a handful of bench and reserve players. I imagine they'll do similar tomorrow, but with one or two regulars probably more likely to feature. I do believe Michael Laudrup when he says that there's no added motivation by facing Brendan Rodgers' side, but also know that playing Liverpool in cup competition is usually extra motivation for any club. We see it this season in the Europa League, we've seen it in the past in both domestic cup competitions.

At the very least, there will be two enforced changes. Starting goalkeeper Michel Vorm is injured, while right-back Angel Rangel is suspended. Ashley Williams is also doubtful with an ankle sprain, while left-back Neil Taylor is a long-term absentee. Swansea will almost certainly stick with the 4-3-3/4-1-2-3 formation Rodgers used last season and Laudrup uses in this, even if the Dane has made Swansea slightly more direct. If forced to guess, I'll go for Tremmel; Tiendalli, Chico, Monk, Davies; Gower, Britton, Michu; Routledge, Graham, Dyer as the XI, but also want to emphasize that is little more than a guess. Michu, if he plays – whether as the #9 or as the most-advanced midfielder – will obviously be the biggest threat, responsible for seven goals and an assist in his ten Swansea matches.

This competition is probably last on Liverpool's list of priorities, and that it's Rodgers' first match against his former side will dominate the headlines. Still, even with a heavily changed line-up, Liverpool will look to progress in the competition, if only to ensure that the above players continue to have opportunities to develop and to prove their worth. Suso seizing his chances after appearances against Young Boys and West Brom is evidence that there are places to be won. Despite Liverpool's shallow squad, the match against Anzhi (and Udinese, to a lesser extent) demonstrates that Rodgers values Liverpool's progression in the Europa League; the Capital One Cup is where he'll look to experiment most often. And, of course, the sooner that Liverpool put the memory of Sunday fully behind them, the better it'll be for all involved.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

I love love love that Stu Downing is one of the top scorers