08 January 2007

Liverpool v Arsenal 01.09.07

Quarterfinal round of the Carling Cup, 2:45pm Setanta.

Carling Cup results:
Liverpool: 1-0 Birmingham (a); 4-3 Reading (h)
Arsenal: 1-0 Everton (a); 2-0 West Brom (a)

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-3 Arsenal (h); 3-0 Bolton (h); 1-0 Tottenham (a)
Arsenal: 3-1 Liverpool (a); 4-0 Charlton (a); 0-1 Sheffield Utd (a)

Goalscorers (league cup):
Liverpool: Agger, Crouch, Fowler, Paletta, Riise 1
Arsenal: Aliadere 2; Adebayor 1

Referee: Martin Atkinson (same referee that postponed the last match)

Arsenal (from): Almunia, Eboue, Poom, Lehmann, Hoyte, Toure, Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Silva, Flamini, Rosicky, Henry, Walcott, Van Persie, Baptista, Djourou, Diaby, Fabregas.

Neither BBC nor the official site had Liverpool’s squad list.

Guess at a lineup:
Peltier Hyypia Agger Warnock
Pennant Gerrard Alonso Aurelio
Kuyt Bellamy

What's the old expression? Familiarity breeds contempt? It's not to the level of ending up against Chelsea in every competition there is, but we're getting close.

Gone with a mix of resting certain players, but at the same time including more of the first team than if Liverpool had won on Saturday. For example, had Liverpool won I couldn’t see both Gerrard and Alonso starting, but with the Carling Cup taking on that much more importance, and both midfielders being so important to Liverpool’s attack, I’d imagine both will play. But players like Carra, Finnan and Garcia, especially the defenders who've gotten a lot of games so far this season, should see some time off.

Yesterday’s news saw Rafa announce that Dudek was the first-choice keeper for all domestic cup competitions. Hopefully this is more putting him in the shop window than attempting to keep his confidence up and making promises over playing time. Not only is Reina the in-form keeper, Dudek didn’t inspire the utmost confidence over the weekend. Granted, that’s how Jerzy’s always been, scary for 89 minutes and utterly brilliant for the other, and he'll forever be a hero for the moments of brilliance in Istanbul, but Reina’s been more reassuring from day one.

There’s a decent likelihood that Aurelio could start at left back with Gonzalez at left wing. However, not only did Aurelio look dangerous when he came on Saturday, but it still seems that at this stage of his adaptation to the English game, he offers more in attack than in defense and could be a liability with the speed Arsenal attacks on the counter. If Warnock is fit, which honestly always seems to be a crapshoot, I’d like to see him get a start and be assured there’s a tough tackler on the left flank.

It appeared that Bellamy was left on the bench in the second half to rest him with an eye on this game, but if his hamstring is still flaring up, he’s not worth risking. Kuyt and Crouch could get another go at the Arsenal defense, but Fowler's also started every Carling Cup game so far.

We saw what Arsenal’s capable of last Saturday. By the look of the squad list the BBC has named, we’ll see a fairly similar side Tuesday, with the addition of Fabregas. But it’s not as if Liverpool was completely out of it, and a 2-goal margin flattered the victors. It comes down to being more potent in front of goal and returning to the consistently stout defense that had seen Liverpool go however many games unbeaten at home. Obviously, much easier said that done. But either Bellamy’s pace or Fowler’s trickery should add a different option in attack and I find it hard to believe that the defense won’t learn from past mistakes.

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