29 October 2007

On the injury “crisis”

• Torres is out for 3 weeks
• Alonso may have re-broken a metatarsal, which would put him out for another 4-6 weeks at best
• Pennant’s out for 8 to 10 weeks
• Agger’s out for another week or two
• There are still long-term questions over Aurelio and Kewell
• Plus, the players who aren’t completely healthy (Mascherano) or returning to fitness (Gerrard, Arbeloa), but should still feature

It’s not a good time on the injury front.

Was it worth it? Torres and Alonso started and it paid dividends in Liverpool’s play, but now they’re both out for a few more weeks. Had Liverpool held on for the win it’d be easier to stomach, but seeing the two of them trot off with injuries, and then for Liverpool to give up the equalizing goal, is a kick to the midsection.

It’s easy to write in hindsight, but Torres should have never started. While I’m very disheartened to lose Alonso for longer, especially with how much better he made Liverpool look yesterday, starting him was probably the right decision; he passed all the fitness tests, made it through training, and was able to positively impact the outcome of the match. We’ve seen over the past year how touchy metatarsals can be.

I hope to see a bit more of Lucas during Alonso’s absence this time around. I’ll be stunned if Sissoko and Lucas aren’t the starting central midfield on Wednesday, but even in the Premier League or Champions League, I think that Liverpool needs to have Lucas and Mascherano in the middle as Alonso and Masch were yesterday, with Gerrard in a free role or on the right.

With Torres out, we may see more of the formation we saw yesterday. Well, at the least we might see Liverpool deploy a lone striker (Kuyt or Crouch) with Gerrard in support (I can do without Kuyt/Voronin out wide). A 4-4-1-1 or 4-2-3-1, however you want to draw it up.

For example:

Finnan Carra Hyypia Riise
Benayoun Lucas Mascherano Babel

In Babel and Benayoun there should be enough speed, width, ability to cut in, and crosses to support Kuyt and Gerrard. Kewell’s return would work in this formation as well, or Gerrard can play on the right with Babel or Benayoun coming off the bench. And while it’s down the list of options, Leto and Voronin, as well as Riise, can play on the left on midfield.

Admittedly, I’m worried by these injuries, Alonso’s and Torres’ most of all. But I listed 9 players at the top, forwards, midfielders, and defenders, and all are important to Liverpool’s season.

Liverpool bought players this summer with an eye towards strengthening the entire squad. This is where purchases like Leto and Lucas need to pay off. For the next month or so, Liverpool’s going to be stretched very thin. The fixtures over that period will be Cardiff City (h), Blackburn (a), Besiktas (h), Fulham (h), Newcastle (a), and Porto (h).


Is this betting said...

Torres should not have started that is taken but I get the suspicion that the backlash after Torres was left out against Birmingham (in the press, on the blogs and the pubs) might have forced Benitez into playing him.

He clearly was not fit - he was totally ineffective.

Overall I was pleased with the performance and it was a great game to watch. Benitez's teams seem to have the ability to raise themselves up for the big matches.

It was hard going into that game so low on confidence and Arsenal being on a roll. I think we got stuck in and made a good game of it.

Steel said...

While I'm admittedly worried by these injuries, I'm equally hopeful to see Lucas and Leto figure more prominently.