13 March 2010

Liverpool v Portsmouth 03.15.10

4pm, live in the US on espn2

Last 4 head-to-head:
0-2 Pompey (a) 12.19.09
3-2 Liverpool (a) 02.07.09
1-0 Liverpool (h) 10.29.08
4-1 Liverpool (h) 12.22.07

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-1 Lille (a); 0-1 Wigan (a); 2-1 Blackburn (h)
Pompey: 1-2 Brum (h); 2-0 Brum (h); 2-1 Burnley (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 13; Kuyt 9; Gerrard 6; Benayoun 5; Ngog 4; Babel, Johnson 2; Kyrgiakos, Skrtel 1
Pompey: Dindane, Piquionne 5; Boateng 3; Belhadj, Yebda 2; Hreidarsson, Kanu, O’Hara, Webber 1

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Three months younger than I am and he’s never refereed a Liverpool match. However, he was the fourth official Sammy Lee screamed at in the first game of the season when Voronin didn’t get a penalty. This should be fun.

Guess at a squad:
Johnson Carragher Agger Insua
Maxi Gerrard Aquilani Babel

This is the game where I’d like some changes rung, since it certainly wasn’t happening on Thursday.

I can’t see any other back four, the same as the one against Lille: Johnson’s back, Agger will be preferred to Kyrgiakos, and there’s no one to spell Insua. Torres, Gerrard, Reina, and Mascherano are the other nailed-on starters. Everything else is up in the air, and I’m hopeful that Benitez will spring a surprise or two.

Everyone knows my soft spot for Kuyt, but there’s no way he should keep his place on current form, even considering he’s one of Liverpool’s few target men and Benayoun’s probably out of this match due to injury. Babel linked up well with Torres on Thursday (at least a couple of times), while Maxi’s a different option, getting better with each game.

I’m much warier of suggesting a start for Aquilani knowing what a powder keg that is. Despite seven starts where we’ve seen little and few chances otherwise, many seemingly expect Alberto to be some sort of savior. Well, there’s a reason he hasn’t been playing, even if Benitez hasn’t clued us in on it (and it’s not that Lucas has naked pictures of the manager). But the team clearly needs some sort of change and Aquilani’s one of the few possibilities. That the match is at Anfield at least removes one of the excuses for Aqua not featuring.

Liverpool should certainly have motivation going into this match. Not only does the team dearly need a win, they’ve an abortion of a two-nil loss to avenge from December. That win was one of three Pompey home league wins, and it was the most recent. Yes, Liverpool was the last side Portsmouth beat at Fratton Park in the Prem and it happened almost three months ago.

Those last three months haven’t been kind to Pompey. Bottom of the table, multiple delinquent owners, forced player sales, and finally administration. And yet they’ve a better chance of winning a trophy than Liverpool. Piquionne, who scored in the last meeting, has been impressive of late, while Spurs loanee Jamie O’Hara will be the other main threat.

There are only nine games left in this awful campaign. Almost all hope’s been lost. Please, just give us a ray of optimism as we close out this catastrophe.

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