02 May 2008

Liverpool v Manchester City 05.04.08

11am EST, live in the US on FSC

Last 4 head-to-head:
0-0 (a) 12.30.07
0-0 (a) 04.14.07
1-0 Liverpool (h) 11.25.06
1-0 Liverpool (h) 02.26.05

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-3 Chelsea (a); 2-2 Brum; 1-1 Chelsea (h)
City: 2-3 Fulham (h); 3-1 Pompey (h); 2-1 Sunderland (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 22; Gerrard 11; Crouch 5; Babel, Benayoun, Voronin 4; Kuyt 3; Alonso, Pennant 2; Aurelio, Hyypia, Mascherano, Sissoko 1
City: Elano 7; Vassell 6; Petrov 5; Bianchi, Ireland 4; Benjani, Geovanni 3; Gelson, Johnson, Mpenza 2; Etuhu, Onuoha, Sturridge 1

Referee: Mark Halsey

Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Hyypia Insua
Plessis Lucas
Pennant Gerrard Babel

Torres and Skrtel both trained today after going off with injuries on Wednesday, but I’d still be surprised to see either start.

I’ve no desire to see an under-strength side, as in the last couple of league games or like the end of last season’s campaign, with Liverpool now out of the Champions League, but at the same time, some the young players need to be given a go, and key players like Torres and Skrtel shouldn’t be risked even though we’re so close to the summer.

First and foremost among the reserves, I sincerely hope we see Insua from the start. With Riise likely to leave and Aurelio injured, Insua has to be given games. He simply has to, even if Liverpool are looking to sign a left-back in the off-season (relatedly, yes, I saw the Barry article in the Echo and now BBC, but no, I’ve nothing new to say about it).

In addition, I’d hope to see Lucas or Plessis, or ideally both, in central midfield. The two played well as a unit in the reserves, and both look likely to see much more first team action next season. And it would be both Insua and Plessis' first game at Anfield. However, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see either Lucas or Plessis paired with Alonso, first because it’d be a sign that Xabi would be likely to be here next season, and second because he’s still playing his way back to form.

We also could see Mikel San Jose, who’s made the first team bench before this season, step into one of the center back spots. Maybe even Nemeth on the bench (hopefully), but I’ve been burned saying that in the last couple of previews.

But I hope to see established starters like Gerrard, Carragher, and Babel play as well.

For City, Richard Dunne should return from injury, but it’s most likely too soon for Micah Richards, Bojinov, or Garrido. Sven will most likely deploy a 4-5-1, as he has all season long, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they used Corluka to shadow Gerrard, as they did in the reverse fixture and similar to Makelele’s role in the CL semis.

There have been 4 goals scored in last six meetings between the sides, while the last two games have ended 0-0. With Liverpool playing out the season and City in some disarray following rumors of Sven’s sacking, there’s a good chance it’ll be another cagey display. But the opposite could easily happen: Liverpool looking to get back on the front foot after going out of Europe, while the City players try to save Eriksson’s job.

With fourth place assured, we’re all well aware that Liverpool’s pretty much just playing for pride. But pride can still be an excellent motivator, while some in the squad, both young and established, are playing for a place in the side next season. Plus, this is the last game at Anfield for the season, and I'd hope the team send the fans away happy.

These two games do matter. Not as much as we hoped at the beginning of the season, but they matter nonetheless. It’s crucial Liverpool end this troublesome season on as high a note as possible.


Mike Georger said...

ive gotta say if barry comes in he will play left midfield. still think its a good fit even though im in the minority.

i think the reserves playoff game or whatever the hell competition it is comes up early in the week so we might not get to see some of the younger guys sadly

Mike Georger said...

oneill has confirmed an offer and that theres a swap involved. good god let it be riise and not crouch.

though crouch leaving would be interesting as it guarantees we go after a true striker as we would only really have one at that point

nate said...

If Barry comes in at left midfield, he replaces Babel or Benayoun in the “usual” 4-2-3-1. So he’s replacing one of those two in the usual lineup, or Kuyt misses out and either Yossi or Babel play on the right. In which case a new right back seems of the utmost importance.

If Barry comes to replace Alonso, he steps in there, or the formation becomes a 4-1-4-1, a la England under Capello, something like:
Kuyt/Pennant – Gerrard – Barry – Babel/Benayoun

Or he’s another utility type, which we know Rafa likes, and he’ll play left midfield, left back, or central midfielder as situations dictate. In which case, the rumored £10m cash or player swap (I’m guessing Carson and Riise) seems a bit steep for that type of player.

Still don’t know how I feel about either of those options. However, I implicitly trust Benitez in the transfer market; when’s he had over £5m to spend on a player he’s spent it very well.

Mike Georger said...


pretty good points made here about the offense this season.

for some reason im really excited about todays game even though its 'meaningless,' probably because of the chance to see insua and plessis. granted if i get voronin, riise, and the rest of the B squad and no youngsters im probably going back to bed

Mike Georger said...

holy shit regular squad + insua, thats just as good.

Mike Georger said...

um.... are those the new kits?