15 February 2008

Liverpool v Barnsley 02.16.08

5th Round. 10am EST, on in the US on FSC

FA Cup run:
Liverpool: 5-2 Havant (h); 5-0 Luton (h); 1-1 Luton (a)
Barnsley: 1-0 Southend (a); 2-1 Blackpool (h)

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Chelsea (a); 3-0 Sunderland (h); 0-1 West Ham (a)
Barnsley: 0-3 Plymouth (a); 2-1 West Brom (h); 0-4 Coventry (a)

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Guess at a line-up:
Finnan Carragher Hyypia Riise
Pennant Lucas Alonso Benayoun
Crouch Babel

I truly think Rafa would deploy a stronger line-up were the Inter match more than 3 days later. The domestic cup line-ups have been stronger than expected in pretty much every round, while (sigh), the FA Cup probably represents the best chance at silverware this season. It’s definitely the only real chance at domestic silverware.

But Liverpool’s still in Europe as well, and the game against Inter is going to take priority, especially when there are key players who could do with the extra three days rest.

Torres, Arbeloa, Aurelio and Hyypia, along with Agger, were back in training yesterday. It’s most likely too soon for most. Agger will miss the next two games as he gets closer to fitness, but there’s a chance Hyypia, Arbeloa, and/or Aurelio could go right back into the line-up with the spate of injuries in defense, as Skrtel picked up a calf injury yesterday and will be absent. If Hyypia can’t go, there’s a chance we could see Mikel San Jose, who was on the bench against Chelsea.

And unless Torres is absolutely 100% fit, he shouldn’t be risked for a start. Even without an injury I’d be surprised to see Torres start with Inter on Tuesday. But hopefully he’ll get some time off the bench (ideally with Liverpool already ahead) to get him some match action before Tuesday.

I’m hoping that young reserves like Nemeth and Insua are on the bench, but as we haven’t seen them in the first team yet this season (with stronger squads than expected deployed in both the FA and Carling Cups) I doubt we will tomorrow, despite the fact Nemeth’s been banging them in for the reserves. Like last season, I imagine players like Nemeth and Insua will get time in the Premiership late in the year, especially if Liverpool’s still in cup competitions. I do want to see the young players that Benitez has stocked the u-18s and reserves with get opportunities with the first team, but a 5th round FA Cup, even though it’s at Anfield, isn’t the best time for that.

Liverpool’s had an easy draw so far, but still made hard work of Luton and Havant at times, and Barnsley is a Championship team. I’m sure Benitez will try and keep focus on the match ahead, but Inter will certainly be lingering in players’ minds. But the FA Cup is made for shockers like this, and any team can challenge another on its day, as Havant almost proved last month.

For Barnsley, Lewin Nyatanga, Jon Macken and keeper Tony Warner (a former Red) are cup-tied, while the other keeper, Heinz Muller, is out injured. Luke Steele, just signed on emergency loan yesterday from West Brom, will make his first start for the Tykes.

Liverpool, despite not scoring against Chelsea, was far better than in some of the previous disappointing results, especially in defense. It’s imperative the team keep progressing, and return to playing the football that saw Liverpool win by margins such as 8-0, 4-0, 4-1, etc. Tomorrow’s game is crucially important, as Liverpool need to keep advancing in the FA Cup, but just as important is to have another encouraging performance before Inter on Tuesday.


Mike Georger said...

i love blatter right now. you want to play overseas? fine, youre not getting the world cup. how do my balls taste england?
i love the premiership but i really think the culture of english football has an unwarranted sense of superiority and its nice to see them get put in their place

Mike Georger said...

i know the competition isnt top notch but i was happy with that first half. crouch is getting robbed left and right but hes looking confident. babel is controlling things well too, great pass to set up the goal. lucas and alonso is a good combination, shame alonsos bolt got saved. steele is playing incredible

Mike Georger said...

wow. pathetic isnt even a strong enough word right now. if rafa got fired today i wouldnt be the least bit upset because someone has to be accountable for something like this.

i was expecting to come here and say that in the replay they might as well field all youngsters because none of these players are able to pull an fa cup game off. embarrassed by luton, embarrassed by a non league side, and now out at home to a championship side. unacfuckingceptable

itandje is garbage, riise is done, alonso made no attempt to stop howard and fucked up clearing the ball on the goal.

this is by far the angriest ive ever been this season. this team deserves all the shit they get from the media now, im fucking done defending them. i dont care how good the defense and keeper played, you have to beat a championship side at home when youre fielding all regular first team players, AND YOU CERTAINLY CANT LOSE TO THEM

absolute disgrace

Steel said...

Gutted. Again.

The soft spot I've carried for Kewell all these years has hardened again.

I know Rafa has one eye on Tuesday, but for fuck's sake: the starting 11 looked as if they had only just been introduced to each other this week, some good first touches and passing notwithstanding.