15 December 2006

Liverpool at Charlton 12.16.06

7:45am. Available in the US live on Setanta Sports.

Liverpool: 5th place; 28 points out of 17 games
Charlton: 19th place; 12 points out of 17 games

Last 4 meetings:
0-0 (h) 03.04.06
0-2 Charlton (a) 02.08.06
2-1 Liverpool (a) 02.01.05
2-0 Liverpool (a) 10.23.04

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 4-0 Fulham (h); 2-3 Galatasaray (a); 4-0 Wigan (a)
Charlton: 1-5 Tottenham (a); 1-0 Blackburn (h); 1-2 Sheffield Utd (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 6; Bellamy 3; Crouch, Garcia, Gerrard, Gonzalez 2; Agger, Alonso, Carragher, Fowler, Riise 1
Charlton: Bent 6; Reid 2; M Bent, El Karkouri, Hasselbaink 1

Referee: Howard Webb

Guess at a squad:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise
Garcia, Gerrard, Alonso, Gonzalez
Crouch, Bellamy

I’m pretty sure that as of the terms of his loan, Scott Carson can’t play for Charlton. Pity for them, he’s been their best player. Neither that fact nor Charlton’s form should mean that this game is taken for granted, however. Neither of last year’s fixtures gave Liverpool any joy; Charlton deservedly won at the Valley and the game at Anfield was exhibit A of Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal.

I’ve gone with Crouchy up front instead of Kuyt because he’s been out of the team for what seems to be a while now and Kuyt probably could use a break, despite being rested away at Galatasaray. As always though, picking from the three forwards is a crapshoot when they’re all healthy, and all have assets (Bellamy’s pace, Crouch’s height, Kuyt’s never-say-die attitude) that could trouble the Addicks’ shaky backline.

Seeing Gonzo return as a sub against Fulham was quite reassuring; his absence, along with Aurelio and Kewell’s, has left Liverpool light on the left. The stunning free kick in the 90th minute last match was icing on the cake; I’ll be content to see him continue to adjust to the English game while giving Liverpool increased width, and hope that he gets a start. My major and really only concern is that his need to improve his crossing while he’s running at pace, because far too often this season we’ve seen those passes end up in row Z.

Hopefully Charlton’s need for points, coupled with Les Reed’s promise to play more attacking footie, will mean that Charlton will actually come out of their own half and Liverpool won’t be forced to play against 10 men behind the ball. It’s getting annoying to be repetitive, but Liverpool still must prove they have what it takes to break teams down in this situation, especially on the road. And as always, the earlier the goal, the better for the team; there’s no better example than the last game. Once Liverpool put one past Fulham, they got two more in less than 10 minutes, and another to close the half. A repeat of that would certainly be welcomed.

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