19 January 2010

Liverpool v Tottenham 01.20.10

3pm. Delayed in the US at 4:45pm on Setanta.

If the Carling Cup semi goes long, the delayed showing won’t start on time. If I can find a reasonable stream, I’ll have a review up soon after the match like usual. And if not, it’ll be up after the delayed showing.

Last 4 head-to-head:
1-2 Spurs (a) 08.16.09
3-1 Liverpool (h) 05.24.09
2-4 Spurs (a; Carling Cup) 11.12.08
1-2 Spurs (a) 11.01.08

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Stoke (a); 1-2 Reading aet (h); 1-1 Reading (a)
Spurs: 0-0 Hull (h); 4-0 Peterborough (h); 2-0 West Ham (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 12; Benayoun, Gerrard, Kuyt 5; Ngog 4; Babel, Johnson 2; Kyrgiakos, Skrtel 1
Spurs: Defoe 14; Keane 6; Crouch, Kranjcar 4; Lennon 3; Dawson 2; Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Bentley, Corluka, Huddlestone, Jenas, King, Modric, Palacios 1

Referee: Howard Webb

Guess at a squad:
Carragher Skrtel Kyrgiakos Aurelio
Rodriguez Aquilani Lucas Riera

Even with Gerrard, Torres, Benayoun, and Johnson – among others – injured, Liverpool needs a more attacking line-up than the one we saw on Saturday.

I know we’ve concluded that Kuyt as a lone striker isn’t a preferred option against any side. The only time it worked to a tee was the 5-1 victory over Newcastle last winter. But I’d rather have Kuyt – ideally with Maxi and Riera supporting from the flanks and both Aquilani and Lucas further forward in midfield – than Ngog. The young Frenchman’s done well for his age so far this season, but has struggled in the last two matches, and would find it hard to make headway isolated against the likes Bassong and Dawson. Kuyt’s frenetic workrate should partially prevent any isolation.

Guessing both Riera and Rodriguez to start is putting a lot of faith in a player just back from an extended injury and in one that’s completely new to England. But Liverpool doesn’t have much choice. If Kuyt starts up top (as a lone striker or partnered with Ngog), the options on the right are exceptionally limited. I’m hoping Liverpool won’t resort to starting a right back in midfield for the second straight game, although it’s not as if Degen’s been atrocious. And both Riera and Maxi could provide Liverpool an option they’ve been missing this past month, an option that’s doubly needed with the big guns absent.

Kyrgiakos may have been man of the match on Saturday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start tomorrow. The giant Greek stands out against sides like Stoke, where his aerial presence is crucial and his pace isn’t tested. Spurs, on the other hand, can surely test Liverpool’s defenders with speed. But if Agger’s still out, combined with the chance of Crouch starting, we might see Kyrgiakos once again. Either way, I expect to see Carra continue at right back, and hope that Aurelio replaces the clearly tired Insua on the left.

I joked last week that Liverpool would have been happy to see this match postponed, what with the injury troubles and Masch soon to return from suspension. That was before Gerrard, Torres, and Benayoun were laid up. But, at least the match still comes too soon for the tricky Lennon, who’s out with a groin tear. Tottenham surely has more danger men – Kranjcar and Modric are scoring, Defoe’s in sterling form, and I’m always deathly frightened of former Liverpool players, especially strikers.

Even though Liverpool should have had the chance to equalize with a late penalty when these clubs met in August, Spurs were deserved winners, setting this season’s tone early on. But even with Liverpool’s troubles, and with Spurs looking their best since Jol was in charge, the two clubs are only four points apart in the table. A win tomorrow truly could change the complexion of the league. Liverpool should have no motivation trouble with how the season’s gone so far, but the fact that three points tomorrow would put the club only one point behind fourth should be more than enough incentive.


muffins said...

Howard effing Webb? Ugh.

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Issam said...

Can't be any worse than Lee Mason...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully we will starting to win now...YNWA

Frank said...

Starting Xi according to The Guardian: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Degen, Mascherano, Lucas, Riera, Aquilani, Kuyt. Subs: Cavalieri, Maxi, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Darby, Pacheco.

Looks like Fabio hasn't even made the squad. Not sure what that's about, maybe he picked up a knock. Don't like the move by Rafa by starting Degen over both Maxi and Babel. Other than that, really feel as if this is the best we have.

Frank said...

Good half. Great tempo. We really came out and gave a terrific effort.

Our ball posession was nothing special, but that's fine because we disrupted Spurs each time they tried to settle down and create. The Greek and Skertel are doing well.

Aqui is having best game of his Pool life.