02 February 2007

Liverpool v Everton 2.03.07

7:45am, Setanta.

Unavoidable travel, and it comes on the weekend of the derby. Hopefully it will bring the same luck as missing the Bolton game did. My best to you all (except the blue half of Merseyside) this weekend.

Liverpool: 3rd place; 49 points out of 25 games
Everton: 8th place; 35 points out of 24 games

Last 4 meetings:
0-3 Everton (a) 09.09.06
3-1 Liverpool (h) 03.25.06
3-1 Liverpool (a) 12.28.06
2-1 Liverpool (h) 03.20.05

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 2-1 West Ham (a); 2-0 Chelsea (h); 3-0 Watford (a)
Everton: 2-0 Wigan (a); 1-1 Reading (h); 1-4 Blackburn (h)

Goalscorers (league; more than one goal):
Liverpool: Kuyt 9; Bellamy, Crouch 6; Gerrard 4; Alonso, Garcia 3; Gonzalez 2
Everton: Johnson 8; Arteta 6; Cahill 5; Anichebe, Beattie, Osman 2

Referee: Alan Wiley

Guess at a squad:
Finnan, Carragher, Agger, Riise
Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Gonzalez
Kuyt, Bellamy

Aurelio being out again (this time due to a foot injury) puts a crimp in my proposed line-up. While it’s always an educated guess, it seems a lot more likely we’ll see the 4-4-2 this go-around. As much as I’d like it to be so, Everton isn’t West Ham or Watford.

That said, Aurelio’s absence limits the options on the left. I’m almost tempted to put Zenden in, and that’s considering his performances this season and the fact that he’s just returned from injury. I’m not yet willing to write off Gonzo, but he’s still adapting to the Prem, and this isn’t a game in which to find your feet. That said, he’s still seemingly the best option with Kewell and Garcia still out long-term in addition to Aurelio’s most recent malady. There’s always a small chance Bellamy could play left wing, as he did for Newcastle, but that’s opening a can of worms I would like to avoid.

Which brings us to the ever-present question of the striker pairing. Crouch had a tough game at Goodison, and Yobo (who I’ll rarely if ever talk up) can defend against Peter’s height adequately. Kuyt is one of the first names I jot down when I write this up, and while Joleon Lescott’s had an excellent season for the Blues, I think Bellamy’s pace could give Everton problems.

There’s little else needed to be said about the importance of this game. It’s the Merseyside derby. Yes, Liverpool needs 3 more points to keep up their run of form and keep pace with Chelsea, but there’s no extra motivation needed when Everton’s coming up at Anfield. Especially after the last match.

“Liverpool are magic. Everton are tragic.”

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