28 November 2008

Liverpool v West Ham 12.01.08

3pm, live in the US on Setanta

Won’t see the game live – stupid Monday class (last week of classes!) – but Setanta Broadband’s usually excellent about archiving matches so hopefully I’ll have a review up late evening.

Last 4 head-to-head:
4-0 Liverpool (h) 03.05.08
0-1 West Ham (a) 01.30.08
2-1 Liverpool (a) 01.30.07
2-1 Liverpool (h) 08.26.06

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-0 Marseille (h); 0-0 Fulham (h); 2-0 Bolton (a)
West Ham: 1-0 Sunderland (a); 0-0 Pompey (h); 1-3 Everton (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt, Torres 5; Gerrard 3; Keane 2; Alonso, Arbeloa, Babel, Carragher, Riera 1
West Ham: Cole 3; Ashton, Di Michele, Etherington 2; Behrami, Bellamy, Collison, Davenport, Mullins, Neill, Noble 1

Referee: Peter Walton

I wanted to get this preview up before the weekend even though the match isn't until Monday. So the YNWA ref preview isn't up yet, but I'll add a link when that's posted.

Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Dossena
Benayoun Gerrard Alonso Riera
Kuyt Keane

Just in case you were getting too optimistic, Torres hurt his right hamstring again and will miss another 2-3 weeks at the least. Oh, and Aurelio’s calf injury will keep him out for a similar length of time. Super. And yet, I’m still leaning toward a 4-4-2, similar to the team deployed against Wigan after Torres was injured during the internationals.

The 4-2-3-1 is assuredly a possibility, but since Mascherano’s looked gassed in the last two matches and Liverpool could do with two strikers up top as the side’s struggling for goals, I think it’s less likely than the alternative. Plus, although this hasn’t been a precedent so far this season, the match being at Anfield should mean Masch’s defensive capabilities will be less necessary. Given the results against Fulham and Stoke, it seems likely West Ham will see parking the bus as their best chance for a much-needed point.

In the couple of matches together up top – like the one against United – Kuyt and Keane have looked useful as a pairing. Unlike last season, Kuyt’s been scoring on the regular, and Keane’s better when he has a partner to work off of. And Kuyt playing up top should give him a bit of a breather compared to the amount of work he puts in when on the wing.

Babel may well have a role to play from the start, on either flank or up top, but because of that versatility (and since we haven’t seen an awful lot of him outside cameo appearances), he’ll probably come off the bench. But Riera has played a lot of matches lately, and Benayoun’s rarely certain to start.

With Aurelio injured, I’d rather Benitez gave Insua a chance, especially considering Dossena’s form, but the manager (understandably) hasn’t written the expensive Italian off yet. Dossena will have a few games before Aurelio returns to make a mark, and this’ll be a crucial period for him.

With the injuries and spat of games, I’m sure Benitez is pleased this match isn’t until Monday. It’s not even December and I’m sick of writing that this’ll be a crucial contest, as Liverpool needs goals and needs to rack up points in the league to keep pace. And hopefully, the team won’t have forgotten the abhorrent 0-1 loss to the Hammers last year, when Liverpool hit bottom before clawing back to finish the season stronger.

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