01 April 2011

Liverpool at West Brom 04.02.11

10am ET, live in the US on Fox Soccer Plus

Last four head-to-head:
1-0 Liverpool (h) 08.29.10
2-0 Liverpool (a) 05.17.09
3-0 Liverpool (h) 11.08.08
2-0 Liverpool (a) 04.01.06

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 Sunderland (a); 0-0 Braga (h); 0-1 Braga (a)
West Brom: 2-2 Arsenal (h); 3-1 Brum (a); 1-1 Stoke (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 8; Meireles 5; Gerrard 4; Maxi 3; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Suarez 2; Cole, Skrtel 1
West Brom: Odemwingie 10; Morrison, Mulumbu 4; Scharner, Tchoyi, Thomas 3; Brunt, Fortune, Vela, 2; Dorrans, Jara, Olsson, Pablo, Reid 1

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Guess at a line-up:
Carragher Skrtel Agger Johnson
Kuyt Lucas Spearing Meireles
Suarez Carroll

Hodgson v Liverpool, the revenge match. Time to put those mean, small-minded Scousers in their place for wrecking the reputation of little England's lovely old Roy. From the way it's written in the media, it'll be Hodgson on the pitch against the Liverpool XI, and bet on Hodgson scoring a hat-trick while keeping a clean sheet. Vendetta, vendetta, vendetta.

Outside of Gerrard's potential return, I can't see much deviation from the side which beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light two weeks ago. The groin strain that kept Suarez out of Uruguay's last two matches miraculously healed once the international break ended, but Aurelio, Kelly, and Shelvey are all doubtful at best. Gerrard's still talismanic, but I expect he'll be handled with kid gloves, used off the bench if at all. Dalglish spoke cautiously about the captain this week, necessarily so considering how many groin problems Gerrard's had over the last calendar year.

Agger, Carroll, Kuyt, Lucas, Meireles, and Skrtel all returned from the international break unharmed, while Johnson has a slight achilles problem but should be available. Both Kuyt and Carroll had impressive appearances for their countries; Kuyt got three goals and an assist in his two games with Holland, while Carroll scored his first for England. Hopefully his first for Liverpool will be in short order.

West Brom are one point above the relegation zone in 16th, but unbeaten since Hodgson took the reins, winning one and drawing three since mid-February. In keeping with Hodgson's modus operandi, the Baggies haven't kept a clean sheet under their new manager, but increasingly demonstrate the clichéd resiliency Roy installed at Fulham. Before destroying Liverpool from the inside, Owl-Face's teams routinely caused trouble, taking six points off of Liverpool in Benitez's last season. And as we know from the first half of the season, Hodgson-led sides are always more dangerous at home.

Odemwingie's top scorer by some distance with ten league goals, while Mulumbu's had an excellent campaign as the primary holding midfielder. Brunt can cause multiple problems on set plays, Morrison's dangerous from distance, and Olsson's done very well at both fullback and center-back. West Brom's packed defense caused Liverpool plenty of problems in August's narrow 1-0 victory.

That Liverpool haven't lost to West Brom since 1981, a streak of 17 matches, means next to nothing. Nor does the fact that Albion haven't even scored on Liverpool since promotion to the Premiership in 2002 – nine consecutive wins by a margin of 25-0. The narrative's been written; all Roy has to do is show up, park the bus in the 18-yard-box, and attempt to counter every so often. It's up to Liverpool to change the script.


Scott B said...

"The groin strain that kept Suarez out of Uruguay's last two matches miraculously healed once the international break ended"

So nice to hear that about a Liverpool player for once. Shows a good level of commitment from Suarez too.

Eugenia said...

He is committed alright, and I adore him, but speaking as a true uruguayan (which i am) its not "nice" of him to lose the other two matches. A lot of people are questioning whether he was really injured or if he just did it in order not to play the other two matches. Personally, I dont believe the latter, but there are a lot of people who do.
And before being a Liverpool player, he is a Uruguayan player.