31 December 2006

Predictions and more 01/01/07

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year’s celebration. I’ll be traveling, so in addition to probably missing the Bolton game, due to time constraints, I’m combining some quick PL predictions with an abbreviated preview of the Liverpool/Bolton Match. Be well.

Manchester City v Everton (10am, FSC): 0-2
Portsmouth v Tottenham (10am, Setanta): 1-1
Reading v West Ham (10am, Setanta Xtra): 1-2
Fulham v Watford (10am): 1-1
Middlesbrough v Sheffield United (10am): 0-0
Wigan v Blackburn (10am): 0-1
Newcastle v Manchester United (12:15pm, FSC): 1-3
Arsenal v Charlton (2:45pm, Tuesday, Setanta): 2-0
Aston Villa v Chelsea (3pm, Tuesday, FSC): 1-2

Liverpool v Bolton
7:45am, Setanta Sports.

Guess of a lineup:
Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Pennant Gerrard Alonso Gonzalez
Kuyt Bellamy

After a tough game at the Reebok earlier in the season, where an absolute stinker of a decision (Reina handling “outside the box”) helped condemn Liverpool to another early away defeat, the Reds will look to continue their fine home form against a Bolton team that currently sits directly above them in the league.

As usual, the key to playing Bolton will be Liverpool’s ability to match their physicality. Sissoko will be missed as always, but games like Bolton are exactly the type of games he was bought for: breaking up play, matching the other side tackle for tackle, and generally being a nuisance. It will be up to Gerrard and Alonso to break up play and maintain possession even more than usual, and as a result, I imagine both will be sitting deeper than we usually see them.

I expect we’ll see a few players who did not start on Saturday. Not only do I imagine Hyypia will probably get a start, but Pennant should probably return to the side as well, as his crosses will be needed. I wouldn’t mind seeing Garcia get another start, especially given his performance on Saturday, but it seems more likely that Gonzo will return to the lineup, giving Liverpool even more pace on the flanks to hopefully trouble Bolton’s back line. Bellamy may feature (I’m not sure about his hamstring injury from Saturday), and if he’s fit, I hope he plays considering his run of form, but Kuyt and Crouch is a good pairing for how Bolton plays, given their ability to maintain possession.

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