27 February 2009

Liverpool at Middlesbrough 02.28.09

10am, live in the US on Setanta

Last 4 head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (h) 08.23.08
3-2 Liverpool (h) 02.23.08
1-1 (a) 01.12.08
2-0 Liverpool (h) 04.18.07

Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-0 Real Madrid (a); 1-1 City (h); 3-2 Pompey (a)
Boro: 2-0 West Ham (h); 0-0 Wigan (h); 1-1 West Ham (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Gerrard 9; Torres 8; Kuyt 7; Alonso 3; Babel, Benayoun, Riera 2; Arbeloa, Aurelio, Carragher, Hyypia 1
Boro: Alves, Tuncay 4; Aliadiere, O’Neil 2; Pogatetz, Wheater 1

Referee: Rob Styles

Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Skrtel Insua
Alonso Mascherano
Benayoun Gerrard Babel

Yes, there’s some very big news around Liverpool, and I reckon it’s led to a happier manager, but there are more important things going on. Like football.

I know Gerrard’s only recently back from a few weeks out, and played only a few minutes on Wednesday, but he’ll be crucial in Torres’ absence. I’d be surprised if the Spaniard missed more than two games, but there’s little reason for him to be risked before then with the way his season’s gone.

This front six would be nearly the same as that which beat Newcastle 5-1 two months ago – the only difference would be Alonso for Lucas, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all agree is an upgrade. With Torres out, Riera looking gassed, and Benayoun in fine form, I can’t see much different, and hope not to.

I was pleased with Babel’s performance off the bench two days ago. He may not have stood out, but he had little chance to as a lone striker away to Madrid. There seemed a notable change in his attitude, and that makes all the difference. He looked hungry, showed for the ball, and worked hard against Pepe and Cannavaro, both of whom were kicking everything that moved. He put his head down and got to work, and that’s exactly what Ryan needs to do more consistently.

I’m less certain about the backline, even though that’s where Rafa’s more reticent to rotate. I’d be surprised if Aurelio started two games in four days, so we might see Dossena start, as against City, but I’d rather Insua now that he’s back in the squad. Agger’s still out with a back injury, so it should be Carra and Skrtel in the middle; with two of Tuncay, Alves, and Aliadiere likely to start, Hyypia’s height won’t be as essential as Skrtel and Carra’s quicker pace (relatively speaking).

Don’t be fooled by Boro sitting in 19th or by their league record of three draws and three losses since the New Year. Liverpool hasn’t won in Middlesbrough since 2002. During that six-game spell, Liverpool’s has three scoreless draws, two losses, and one 1-1 (last season). One goal in six years, courtesy of Fernando Torres, is not a good record.

Here’s hoping that changes tomorrow.


Mike Georger said...

Arbeloa out for three weeks. So either Carragher moves out right or Darby gets a crack.

Man this would sure be a time for Agger to stamp a spot in the team if he weren't so damn brittle. Jackass.

nate said...

Weird that it's not on the official site, but yeah, I see you're right Georger. First reported by Balague a few hours ago.


I've never heard of wrapping in plaster to heal a hamstring tear, but I'm nowhere near an expert either. Odd.

Darby seemingly has to play either tomorrow or Tuesday. Probably Tuesday being at home. So I reckon it'll be Carra-Skrtel-Hyypia-Insua tomorrow.

Also, not to throw too much gasoline on the fire with conspiracy theories, but, given all these Agger rumors, am I the only one that doesn't believe these recurring injuries?

Mike Georger said...

Seems suspicious that someone so young has all these back problems. Especially since he hasn't been playing. I consider him as good as gone at this point, he doesn't seem to have the heart for it.