25 April 2008

Liverpool at Birmingham 04.26.08

10am EST, live in the US on Setanta

Last 4 head-to-head:
0-0 (h) 09.22.07
1-0 Liverpool (a; Carling Cup) 11.08.06
7-0 Liverpool (a; FA Cup) 03.21.06
1-1 (h) 02.01.06

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Chelsea (h); 2-0 Fulham (a); 3-1 Blackburn (h)
Brum: 1-5 Villa (a); 1-1 Everton (h); 0-2 Wigan (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 22; Gerrard 11; Babel, Crouch, Voronin 4; Benayoun, Kuyt 3; Alonso, Pennant 2; Aurelio, Hyypia, Mascherano, Sissoko 1
Brum: Forssell 8; Jerome, Kapo, Larsson 5; McFadden, Zarate 4; McSheffrey 3; O’Connor 2; Muamba, Ridgewell 1

Referee: Peter Walton

Guess at a squad:
Finnan Carragher Skrtel Insua
Plessis Lucas
Pennant Voronin Benayoun

Well, at least Steve Bruce doesn’t manage Birmingham anymore. We’ll see if they’re still a bogey team without him (other than the 7-0 FA Cup romp, there have been far too many draws in recent history between the sides).

We will assuredly see a comparable team to the one against Fulham last week; I’d be surprised by more than a couple of changes from the side that won 2-0 last Saturday.

I said similar last week, but the fact that neither Plessis nor Insua played with the reserves last night should mean they’ll feature on Saturday. Nemeth and San Jose, on the other hand, did start in the loss to Marine in the Liverpool Senior Cup.

Plessis could spell Mascherano, and I’m interested to see him get a second opportunity after doing well against Arsenal in the league, while Insua seems even more likely after Aurelio’s injury. However, Benitez may want to play Arbeloa at left back if that’s where he’ll play against Chelsea, as I believe he’s only featured in that position twice in 2008 (against Arsenal in the league and at Boro in January). Or, Riise could start at left back with Benitez looking to get the player’s mind off the last match. But of course, I’d prefer Insua; having declared something of a man-crush from his appearances last season, I’m getting the shakes not seeing him in the first team yet this year.

Once again, I expect Liverpool to rest both Gerrard and Torres with an eye on Chelsea. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Gerrard off the bench in order to keep him fresh for Wednesday, especially if he’s fully recovered from that neck injury. But please, keep Torres covered in bubble wrap, just in case (as he was against Fulham). I cannot emphasize enough just how important El Niño will be on Wednesday, but after his season so far, I reckon I don't need to.

Last time out, Birmingham lost 1-5 to their city rivals Villa, which probably makes them even more dangerous, as McLeish won’t have tolerated that performance and it’s probably been a long week of training. Plus, that loss put them amongst the relegation places, with Bolton and Reading a point ahead of them. Birmingham’s also unbeaten in six at St Andrews since losing 0-1 to Chelsea in January, including games against both Arsenal and Everton.

Damien Johnson’s still serving a three-match suspension, while both Larsson and Kapo look likely to return to the side. Despite Mauro Zarate’s excellent second half of the season since coming to Brum on loan, he’ll still probably feature off the bench as an impact substitute. And having scouted Insua, who played in the same Argentina U-20 team, as well as having an extensive network in Argentina, Benitez will be familiar with the player.

It’d probably be a lie to say all eyes weren’t focused on next Wednesday. But once again, Liverpool still doesn’t have fourth spot fully secured, while a win here would help the side going into the match against Chelsea, even if there are wholesale changes like against Fulham. A win is a win is a win, and Liverpool could certainly do with one after the kick to the groin that was the last match.


Mike Georger said...

thoughts on the new home kit launch?

i like it a lot, the white around the collar reminds me of some of the older reebok kits. and man pepe looks sharp in the black

however this surely means the gray away kit is accurate, and i am not sure about that at all

nate said...

I do like it a lot as well, and it's the year for buying a new kit, but I'm not purchasing any Liverpool merchandise until the ownership situation is resolved. And I'd hope others do the same.

Hicks/Gillett aren't getting a dime from me until they stop screwing up the club.

Mike Georger said...

meh. the vast majority of the people i have seen that have said that are on the e-season ticket forum on the lfc site and rightfully so people call them out for the bullshit that they say that but continue to pay for the website.

if there were any honesty behind that the stadium would be half empty

as an american its easier to do that, but for the locals who say that and still goto the games, fuck their hypocritical asses. if you want to protest do it outside, give your ticket to someone else, youre still giving them money if youre inside the gates

nate said...

it's one thing to have e-ST, which I don't, or go to the game, because then you're watching/supporting the team. some people get all/the majority of their lfc viewing on e-season.

it's more not buying the merchandise than not seeing/supporting the team. for example, were I still in England, I'd wouldn't think twice over tickets, but I wouldn't hit the club shop or buy concessions at the game.

but yeah, it's a very fine line.

Mike Georger said...

did we seriously just lose out on modric to fucking spurs? and the senior player already signed is a no name defender from germany? damnit damnit damnit

and sorry, the above angry post was fueled by yuengling and sun chips

nate said...

The breakfast of champions!

The Modric thing is a prime example of why I don't write about transfers. Less than two days after I say he's the player I most want Liverpool to bring in, he signs with spurs. Surprise, surprise.