24 December 2011

Liverpool v Blackburn 12.26.11

10am ET, live in the US on Fox Deportes and FoxSoccer.tv. And all the usual streams that most will have to fall back on.

Last four head-to-head:
1-3 Blackburn (a) 02.12.11
2-1 Liverpool (h) 11.10.10
2-1 Liverpool (h) 03.08.09
2-1 Liverpool (h) 08.24.09

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Wigan (a); 2-0 Villa (a); 1-0 QPR (h)
Blackburn: 1-2 Bolton (h); 1-2 West Brom (h); 1-2 Sunderland (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 5; Own Goal 3; Adam, Bellamy, Carroll, Skrtel 2; Gerrard, Henderson, Johnson, Maxi 1
Blackburn: Yakubu 10, Hoilett 3; Formica, Rochina, Samba 2; Dann, Gamst, Simon 1

Referee: Mike Jones

Beachball. 1-2 Blackpool at Anfield. 0-4 Spurs. Mike Jones might not be Liverpool's favorite referee.

Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Spearing Adam
Kuyt Henderson Maxi

Gerrard might make the bench. Spearing returns from suspension. Anything else happened over the last week?

Otherwise, it's the same old questions. 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1? What will the midfield look like? Who'll play on the flanks? Will Liverpool use Carroll and/or Bellamy? Match after match after match over the festive season, not to mention Liverpool's consistent inconsistency, makes this guessing game even more difficult than usual.

Since Gerrard almost certainly won't start – most likely coming off the bench whenever he returns, as in his aborted comeback a few months earlier – what formation Liverpool will use will probably depend on how (and if) Spearing's reintegrated into the side.

Liverpool played 4-4-2 with Spearing and Adam against Fulham, then 4-2-3-1 two out of the last three matches, with Henderson and Adam holding in midfield. My consensus solution is to push Henderson further forward, as he played against Arsenal in August and where Shelvey and Maxi played during Spearing's suspension. But there's also the small matter of Bellamy and Carroll. Either could partner Suarez, as could Kuyt, with two of the three above midfielders in Liverpool's "old" formation. Both Bellamy and Kuyt could show up on the wings, either in place of Maxi or Downing, as could Henderson with Spearing back in the side.

Liverpool aren't lacking in possibilities, just lacking answers to persistent, malingering questions: how can the side fulfill its sometimes-seen potential, will players start converting the multiple chances at goal. It's nearly January, and "own goal" is still Liverpool's second top-scorer with three. The side's scored three in just one league fixture this season, back in August against Bolton. And yet, somehow, the club's just three points from fourth spot.

All that seems certain, or at least probable, is the back five remaining the same and Suarez starting yet again. England's favorite scapegoat stuttered in the spotlight against Wigan, but I doubt he'll be left out, no matter the sky-consuming storm cloud still hovering directly overhead.

It could be worse. Blackburn have it worse. Bottom of the league, having lost the last three. Steve Kean is Lancashire public enemy number one, and poor Scott Dann's woes sum up the season – unremittingly horrible. I wouldn't wish a ruptured testicle on my worst enemy. Paul Robinson's probably out as well, which means it'll have to be Blackburn's back-up, Matt Bunn, who has the usual opposition blinder at Anfield. Givet, Olsson, and Nelsen are also injured.

Despite Blackburn's utterly woeful form, Yakubu has twice the amount of goals as Luis Suarez, and more than Suarez, Carroll, Bellamy, and Kuyt combined. That stat says more about Liverpool's current scoring proficiency than almost any other. Dalglish unsurprisingly singled out the player in pre-match comments, but it's worth noting that both Skrtel and Agger have done well against burly strikers over the last month.

Blackburn haven't beaten Liverpool at Anfield since 1999, Rovers' season of Hodgson woe, one which saw the side relegated soon after that Anfield win. Fittingly, last season's trip to Blackburn represented the end of Liverpool's Hodgson era, an all-too-typical pathetic 1-3 loss. That victory was the high-water mark of Steve Kean's short reign, the one which earned him a long-term contract. It'd be another eerie parallel if Liverpool were to doom his regime by finally exorcising their goal-scoring demons.


Ridgescores said...

I'm looking at Liverpool's estimated starting lineup and I think that they look like a strong team. In fact, it almost reminds me of the senior England team. They have so many good names, yet underperform...I feel this way for Liverpool as well at times! However, since Dalglish has taken over, things have generally gone in the right direction! http://www.soccerstop.com

Anonymous said...

draw again at home.

right now, kenny dalglish should look at himself.

how they set their formation, players.

when i look at half time game, i could say we cannot win. kenny should do something.

when kenny replaced adam with steven gerrard. i didn't think it was a good idea (it should be henderson).

when maxi been subbed by bellamy, i did say, we've got so wrong (andy should be subbed)

in 20 minutes, we should attack fiercely (from left, middle and right).

we are not looking good right now. all i can say we are finish to get 4th place.