26 March 2010

Liverpool v Sunderland 03.28.10

11am ET, live in the US on FSC

Last 4 head-to-head:
0-1 Sunderland (a) 10.17.09
2-0 Liverpool (h) 03.03.09
1-0 Liverpool (a) 08.16.08
3-0 Liverpool (h) 02.02.08

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-2 United (a); 3-0 Lille (h); 4-1 Pompey (h)
United: 1-1 Villa (a); 3-1 Brum (h); 1-1 City (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 16; Kuyt 9; Gerrard 6; Benayoun 5; Ngog 4; Babel 3; Johnson 2; Aquilani, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel 1
Sunderland: Bent 20; Jones 8; Campbell 3; Reid, Turner 2; Henderson, Mensah, Richardson, Zenden 1

Referee: Phil Dowd

Well, at least it’s not Mike “Hey, that’s a beach ball!” Jones.

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

I’m tempted to maliciously suggest that Gerrard start on the left. If he’s truly packing it in for the World Cup, Liverpool may as well try to kill two birds with one stone: see if Stevie can help ease the left flank troubles and potentially cure his World Cup-itis by deploying him where Don Fabio will.

But what seems more likely, and would probably lead to a bit more cohesion in familiar positions, is a line-up similar (or exactly the same, as I've guessed) to that against Pompey two weeks ago. Aquilani and Babel back in (yes, yes, for Kuyt and Lucas), with Maxi shifting back to his preferred right flank. Aquilani seems much more likely to play these next seven league games, finally looking fitter and adapting to his surroundings. How he fares over the next two months will be crucial.

Otherwise, as usual, the line-up questions pertain most to the flanks. The above is what I want to see as well as what I think we’ll see, but as I wrote earlier in the week, at the least, pick from Kuyt/Maxi on one side and Babel/Benayoun on the other. And as usual, the defense and spine (outside of the Aquilani/Lucas debate), is less in doubt. Aurelio’s at least a week or two away from fitness, as is Skrtel, so the backline should remain the same for the fifth-straight game.

After struggling since mid-winter (where have I heard that before?), Sunderland’s picked up steam lately, losing just once in their last nine. Like Liverpool, their “revival” has come almost all at home; Sunderland’s first and only away league win came in the first match of the season. Bent’s scoring for fun, but he’s basically the only one doing so for Sunderland. Meanwhile, Mensah, Jones, and Reid are Sunderland’s injury doubts.

Benitez-led sides have always struggled against Steve Bruce’s teams, whether it's been Brum, Wigan, or Sunderland. One league win in nine, last year’s 3-2 comeback over Wigan, against those three teams when Bruce has been at the helm. His massive melon must obscure Rafa’s view of the pitch or something. Here’s hoping past is no precedent.

Just as here’s hoping the past 31 games aren’t precedent for the next seven. All Liverpool can do is win one and then keep winning.


Earl said...

That statistic is staggering. One win in nine? I remember it being tough, but damn. It would be great to pound these bastards. Bruce = Heed. Its like Sputnik. Maybe Sunday night he'll be crying himself to sleep...on his huge pillow! Needs a Mike Myers Scottish accent.

Another stupid question from someone trying to understand Liverpool. Spurs sit at 55 but face a brutal schedule; they hopefully end up with 65-70 pts. City's road isn't much easier so they could be in the same range, as may Liverpool. Villa, who knows. But what about Everton?

How would the supporters react if Everton were to somehow run the table and snag fourth with 69 pts? How would that compare to United getting their 19th?

Won't happen, but I'd be afraid of what a well run club like Everton could do with that extra 25 or so million. As someone who did not grow up with the derby, I've always hated United and Chelsea twice as much.

drew said...

Everton would lose to whatever Spanish or Italian team they got drawn against in preliminaries, and crash into and then back out of the UEFA Cup. As per usual.

nate said...

I'll bite; I like the hypothetical game.

If Liverpool are completely out of the running and can't make fourth, I'd rather Everton get fourth than United win 19. I hate the Blues as much as the Mancs when they play Liverpool, but I can't work up as much antipathy when they're playing a "neutral" opponent. Whereas I want the Mancs to lose every game in the most embarrassing way possible.

I'd obviously rather Liverpool get 4th than anything else, including, if be, United winning #19.

Regardless, I don't think Everton can run the table. And even if they do, I'll fully subscribe to what Drew thinks would happens.

steven. said...

Everton is fading fast .. i don't think they have much of a chance of upsetting the running or having too much effect on the outcome of the league .. bitter bastards ..

Mike Georger said...

Why why WHY does this fat fuck hate Yossi and Aquilani so much?

Abhiram said...

Calling the Gaffer 'this fat fuck' is not Liverpool fans' trait. You should know better Georger.

Mike Georger said...

Sorry, fat Spanish waiter, there we go.

Mike Georger said...

But to his credit he didn't go with the two CDMs, I just was really puzzled by the guys he did pick, whatever it worked out!

nate said...

I mean this in the nicest way possible because you're a consistent and engaging commenter and I truly appreciate that, but fuck the fuck off, Georger.

Liverpool just won 3-0 with a very good team performance. They can only play 11 players, and all 11 looked good today.

I mean, if you're criticizing him after today, there's no way he can win.

Mike Georger said...

Well the initial comment was before the game, I'm not criticizing him after it no way. He did everything right in the game especially getting everyone off in a timely manner. Would have liked to have seen Yossi get some time to get his feet back but El Zhar looked good (I still like that kid).

nate said...

Sorry, didn't see the time stamp.

Yossi will probably start on Thursday, and El Zhar, as you said, needed the game time.

Mike Georger said...

It's all good!