23 September 2011

Liverpool v Wolves 09.24.11

10am ET, live in the US on Fox Deportes and FoxSoccer.tv. Guess I'll be watching this with Spanish commentary, then. No me gusta.

Last four head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (a) 01.22.11
0-1 Wolves (h) 12.29.10
0-0 (a) 01.26.10
2-0 Liverpool (h) 12.26.09

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Brighton (a); 0-4 Spurs (a); 0-1 Stoke (a)
Wolves: 5-0 Millwall (h); 0-3 QPR (h); 0-2 Spurs (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 2; Adam, Henderson, Skrtel 1
Wolves: Doyle, Fletcher, Jarvis, Ward 1

Referee: Kevin Friend

Guess at a line-up:
Kelly Skrtel Carragher Enrique
Kuyt Lucas Adam Downing
Suarez Bellamy

So, if it ain't broke...

However, fitness concerns may mean fixing is needed no matter what may or may not be broken. There are doubts about Lucas, Suarez, Kelly, and Bellamy after their efforts on Wednesday (and the first two's efforts last Sunday). Dalglish has always, repeatedly, promised to use the entire squad.

As long as Bellamy's 32-year-old legs are still attached after 90 minutes on Wednesday, he should be one of the first names on the team-sheet. Yes, it was against Brighton and yes, the first half looked far, far better than the second, but his link-up with Suarez showed the most promise we've seen up front in this young season. Especially since it seems the team's best served by Kuyt playing on the right of midfield.

I will mention/caution that Jordan Henderson is one of eight who have started all five of Liverpool's league matches (along with Reina, Carra, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Adam, and Downing). It's early yet, but Henderson and Carroll are neck and neck for favored scapegoat status, taking over for the previously-much-maligned Kuyt and Lucas. Maybe the above guess at a line-up should have been titled "preferred line-up" instead. Maybe it's a mix of both. Fair warning and all.

In an ideal world, given concerns about Lucas' fitness, the opposition, and that the match is at Anfield, if any game was a test run for a Gerrard-Adam midfield, seems like it's this. Pity we don't live in an ideal world. Gerrard will probably, rightfully be brought back slowly, featuring off the bench if at all. Be safe, Lucas.

Skrtel and Adam will both return from suspension. Skrtel seemingly has to start with Agger injured and Coates still adapting to England. That Carragher played on the left of defense on Wednesday seems preparation for Agger's extended absence. Adam, a footballer who lives on the extremes – either excellent or terrible, brilliant or moronic, with little in-between – is another of those preferred eight, seemingly crucial to how Dalglish wants this season's side to play. More than his predilection for the killer pass at the expense of the easy, it's his defensive game which needs the most improvement.

Like Liverpool, Wolves suffered two debilitating league losses prior to a morale-boosting Carling Cup win. McCarthy's side has been held scoreless in its last three league games following wins in their first two against Fulham and Blackburn, but responded with a 5-0 castration of Millwall featuring a mostly second-string side. The likes of Doyle, Fletcher, Henry, Jarvis and O'Hara, among others, are back in contention for the starting XI; chances are it'll be Doyle or Fletcher, as McCarthy switches from his preferred 4-4-2 to the 4-5-1 he's used in most matches with Liverpool (all except last season's 3-0 defeat by my reckoning). Foley, Ebanks-Blake, Zubar, and Craddock are out injured, but new captain Roger Johnson, signed from Birmingham over the summer, should be back after suffering a calf injury against QPR.

Last season's penultimate Hodgson embarrassment was the worst of the bunch, but Liverpool's rarely played well against McCarthy's Wolves prior to that 3-0 away win last January, Liverpool's first under Dalglish. The side struggled to a 2-0 home win and played out an insipid 0-0 away in Benitez's final season before that 0-1 setback at Anfield last December, marking Hodgson's nadir and ultimately voted the worst loss of the season by you lot.

McCarthy knows how to contain, stifle, and frustrate, evident in the fact that Wolves have sustained Premiership status for the third-consecutive season. Stoke gave McCarthy the template for grinding out a result against Liverpool. Dalglish's side will have to overcome that on more than one occasion, and back at the comforts of Anfield, Liverpool will look to replicate their earlier excellent home performances – a bit more Bolton than Sunderland, obviously.


Anonymous said...

Thought Adam was a red card in the last game which makes him eligible for your guess line up

nate said...

Adam (and Skrtel) both saw red for two yellow cards against Spurs, which is a single game ban. Both served that ban in the cup match against Brighton, so both are available tomorrow.

Suspensions incurred in league matches can be served in domestic cup competitions (both the Carling Cup and FA Cup) if that's the club's next match.