03 November 2006

Liverpool v Reading 11.4.06

10am. Available in the US on Fox Soccer Channel.

Liverpool: 8th place; 14 points out of 10 games
Reading: 10th place; 13 points out of 10 games

Liverpool has only met Reading once in all of League history, last week at Anfield in the Carling Cup tie, which Liverpool won 4-3.

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 3-0 Bordeaux (h); 3-1 Villa (h); 4-3 Reading (h)
Reading: 1-3 Portsmouth (a); 3-4 Liverpool (a); 0-4 Arsenal (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 3; Crouch 2; Agger, Alonso, Bellamy, Fowler, Garcia, Gonzalez, Riise 1
Reading: Doyle 4; Ki-Hyeon 2; Ingimarsson, Kitson, Lita, Sidwell 1

Referee: Uriah Rennie

The squad I’d like to see:

Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise
Pennant, Gerrard, Sissoko, Gonzalez
Crouch, Kuyt

Bellamy’s ruled out, Garcia’s doubtful, and Alonso, while being declared fit by Benitez today, is also questionable. I think we can rule out an unchanged side for the 3rd match in a row (sorry, journalists).

Will we see Liverpool keep up their run of good form? In the last 3 games they’ve scored 10 goals, and it should continue tomorrow. As I said in the Carling Cup game preview and review, I’ve been impressed with Reading. Steve Coppell has a well-organized and well-managed team who were the favorites out of the promoted teams to avoid the drop this season. It’s gone a little downhill in their last 3 games however, as they’ve let in 11 goals.

The Carling Cup match last week shouldn’t count for much. Not only did Liverpool feature a number of substitutes and reserves, but so did Reading, who were without their two star players, Steve Sidwell and Kevin Doyle, as well as a number of other first-teamers.

I still like Liverpool to continue on the right track. I want to see them utilize the pace they have in the squad and take the game to Reading. With certain players unlikely to start (such as Alonso and Garcia), there will be an opportunity for new signings such as Pennant and Gonzalez to get a game. The two of them could cause Reading a lot of trouble down the flanks, running with the ball at defenders, putting the fullbacks under pressure, and whipping in crosses to Crouch and Kuyt.

Now that the defense is starting to settle, I think we’ll see the same back four (and Reina) that we have in the last two games. Whether Agger or Hyypia plays is tough to predict; Rafa seemingly chooses according to the pace that the other team’s strikers possess, but if that were the sole reason, I think we would have seen Agger against Villa last weekend. While I’m excited about Agger for the future, and am exceptionally pleased with the progress he’s shown so far this season, now that Liverpool’s won three on the trot and are starting to come together defensively, I want to see the same back line unless its an impossibility.

With Birmingham coming up midweek in the Carling Cup, and then a trip to Arsenal on Saturday, it’s imperative that Liverpool continue to play well. I’ve been happy with the way the team has come together since the loss at United, which has been something of a catalyst. The strikers are scoring regularly, Gerrard’s broken his duck and is getting back to his regular self, and the defensive, while not where it was last season, is looking like they’re figuring it out. If this continues, Liverpool should pick up all three points tomorrow.

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