22 September 2006

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur 9.23.2006

7:45am. Available in the US on Setenta Sports.

Liverpool: 9th place; 7 points out of 5 games
Tottenham: 16th place; 4 points out of 5 games

Last 4 meetings (league):
1-0 Liverpool (h) January 14 2006
0-0 (a) September 10 2005
2-2 (h) April 16 2005
1-1 (a) August 14 2004

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 2-0 Newcastle (h); 0-1 Chelsea (a); 0-0 PSV Eindhoven (a)
Tottenham: 0-0 Fulham (h); 1-0 Slavia Prague (a); 0-1 Manchester United (a)

Goals Leaders (league):
Liverpool: Agger, Alonso, Crouch, Fowler, Kuyt 1
Tottenham: Berbatov, Jenas 1

Referee: Howard Webb

The squad I’d like to see:

Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Warnock
Pennant, Alonso, Sissoko, Gonzales
Crouch, Kuyt

Well, we’re smack in the middle of a quick run of games having played last Sunday and Wednesday, and the rotation policy still has everyone confused. Will Rafa continue with Kuyt and Bellamy for the 4th consecutive game? What happened to Crouchy, Fowler, and Gonzales? How consistently is Pennant going to play? Some changes are going to be made.

With the 4-4-2 line-up working well against Newcastle on Wednesday, Liverpool at home, and Tottenham having problems scoring goals, I imagine we’ll see a similar line up. I think Stevie might get a rest here; it’s hard to drop Alonso after the Newcastle game, and Sissoko is fresher than Gerrard having had the entire summer off. I also want to see Liverpool play with both Pennant and Gonzales, even though Pennant is questionable after picking up a knock before Wednesday's match. So much pace on both sides of the field it’d be scary.

After being on the bench for a couple of games, Crouch seemingly has to play. I’d like to see Kuyt and Crouch paired up top, though it seems they work in a similar manner even if they aren’t similar players. Crouch has his height and seems to be cleverer with his flicks and passes; Kuyt is better running with the ball, is quicker, and has a stronger shot with greater range. But both are deep lying strikers who will show up all over the pitch, run constantly, and look to set up play. For some reason though, I think the pairing has potential.

I’ve complained about Liverpool’s start, but Tottenham have seen an even worse run of form. Held scoreless in every league game except against Sheffield United, they’re in a similar predicament as Liverpool, only worse, with a talented (and expensive) strike force of Keane, Defoe, Berbatov, and Mido unable to find the net. Berbatov, who looked promising in the preseason, is still going to be out through injury.

Tottenham miss Michael Carrick more than I thought they would. He was twice as influential for Tottenham than he’ll ever be for United; Carrick completely set the tone of their attack. While Zokora has adapted well to the Premiership so far, it’s nowhere near the same. And it doesn’t help that Edgar Davids seems to have dramatically fallen off over the summer.

I don’t expect Tottenham to continue at the level they’ve been playing at; they’re a far better team with a far better manager than that. But I don’t expect their improvement to begin this game either.

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