19 December 2008

Liverpool at Arsenal 12.21.08

11am, live in the US on FSC

Last 4 head-to-head:
4-2 Liverpool (h; CL) 04.08.08
1-1 (a) 04.05.08
1-1 (a; CL 04.0.08
1-1 (h) 10.28.07

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 Hull (h); 3-1 PSV (a); 3-1 Blackburn (a)
Arsenal: 1-1 Boro (a); 0-2 Porto (a); 1-0 Wigan (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Gerrard 6; Kuyt, Torres 5; Alonso, Keane 2; Arbeloa, Babel, Benayoun, Carragher, Riera 1
Arsenal: Adebayor, Van Persie 7; Nasri 4; Denilson 2; Bendtner, Clichy, Eboue, Fabregas, Gallas, Silvestre, Walcott 1

Referee: Howard Webb

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

With Liverpool away at the Emirates, where they haven’t yet won, I imagine the line-up will be fairly conservative and familiar: back to the 4-2-3-1 with both Masch and Alonso holding, Kuyt on the right, and Keane up top with Torres still out. And honestly, despite being clueless over a fair few line-ups of late, I’d be very surprised if Sunday’s team looked much different than this.

I still don’t know what Keane did to seemingly land in Benitez’s doghouse, but he has to start here. And after years of playing in London derbies for Spurs, he’ll hopefully be raring to do the business against the Arse. But it’ll be essential that he’s supported by Gerrard and Kuyt, and not left isolated plowing a lone furrow.

The key to Liverpool getting back in the game against Hull was Gerrard driving further forward from midfield, and getting into the box to be in position to score those two goals (making him top scorer for the season so far – he’s got the most in both the league and Europe). If he’s able to do that playing off of Keane, it’ll help the Irishman, and Liverpool’s league scoring woes, immensely.

This is one of those matches where Kuyt’s defending and workrate will be vital, so he’s likely to shift back to the right, where he’ll probably be matched up against Nasri and Clichy. That’ll be a key area for both sides, and I think Benayoun, for all his talents, would be a liability against those two. Similar goes for Babel, but I do expect to see one or both used off the bench for fresh legs later on, as usual.

With Van Persie and Adebayor’s speed, I expect Agger to replace Hyypia. Sami’s performed admirably the last couple of times out, and Adebayor is a big lad, but Agger’s pace (and ability to carry the ball out of defense) will be even more crucial.

Arsenal’s still missing Toure, Walcott, and Rosicky, and like Liverpool, drew their last match in the league. Sitting in fifth, eight points behind the leaders, Arsenal will be every bit as up for this game as Liverpool. Despite their troubles, they’ve beaten both United and Chelsea so far this season. Every time they’ve had a ‘backs against the wall’ game, they’ve come away winners. Here’s hoping that changes on Sunday.


Steel said...

Agreed, although I would switch Insua and Dossena; I'm having nightmares about Mendy skinning the latter in the Hull match.

I hope Rafa doesn't play Kuyt as a lone striker, but if he does, Keane goes in the hole behind. Please.

Mike Georger said...

I hesitate to say it ...... but I have a really good feeling about this game.