22 September 2015

Liverpool v Carlisle 09.23.15

3pm ET, not live on TV in the US. Delayed on BeIN Sport at 8pm Thursday ET and on LFCTV for subscribers after midnight UK time (I think).

Last four head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (a; FA Cup) 01.07.89
3-0 Liverpool (h; FA Cup) 01.30.77
2-0 Liverpool (h) 04.12.75
1-0 Liverpool (a) 10.05.74

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Norwich (h); 1-1 Bordeaux (a); 1-3 United (a)
Carlisle: 2-2 York (a); 2-1 Dag & Red (h); 3-2 Barnet (h)

Previous rounds:
Liverpool: n/a
Carlisle: 2-1 QPR (a); 3-1 Chesterfield aet (h)

Goalscorers (all):
Liverpool: Benteke 2; Coutinho, Ings, Lallana 1
Carlisle: Ibehre 10; Asamoah, Miller 3; Archibald-Henville, Balanta, Kennedy, Osei, Thompson, Wyke 1

Referee: Andrew Madley

Guess at a line-up:
Gomez Toure Lovren
Clyne Rossiter Milner Ibe
Origi Ings

As per usual in cup competition, the main question for Liverpool is how many changes: can Liverpool strike a balance between needing to rest players, needing to give youngsters and second-stringers a chance, and needing to win a match for the first time in five weeks.

The above guess at a line-up probably takes rotation too far. It's almost entirely second-string, with seven players signed this summer, two Academy graduates, and two out-of-favor defenders. Jordon Ibe would be the longest-tenured Liverpool player in that XI, and that could well be a recipe for disaster in the League Cup. See: Northampton Town, Notts County, Middlesbrough, etc. But Liverpool played two matches last week, Liverpool play two matches this week, and Liverpool will play two matches next week. You'd think there have to be a fair few changes.

The above guess at a line-up also assumes that Liverpool will persist with the 3-4-1-2 that we saw against Norwich. Because, well, it was the first time in a month that Liverpool's actually looked almost competent at the football. We could just as easily see a return to the 4-3-3, something like Bogdan; Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Gomez; Milner, Rossiter, Lallana; Ibe, Ings, Firmino. Or a mostly full-strength lineup because Liverpool (and Rodgers) are under enough pressure, rotation and fitness be damned.

Here's my logic for the above guesses:

• Goalkeeper: Seems like Liverpool have to give Bogdan a first appearance, but Rodgers may want to stick with Mignolet to quickly put Sunday's error in the past.

• Center-backs: Lovren will come back into the side, Gomez will come back into the side, and Rodgers will probably spell Skrtel in favor of Toure.

• Wing-backs: Moreno's started consecutive matches after rarely appearing to start the season. Gomez's will probably be needed at center-back. So Clyne probably has to play, with Ibe on the opposite flank. I guess Lallana's an option at wing-back, but that rarely worked last season. Jose Enrique is still not a thing that exists.

• Midfield: Henderson and Allen are injured, I suspect Lucas can't play two matches in a week anymore, Emre Can is the only outfield player to feature in all seven matches this season. Milner could be rested as well, but he sat out Liverpool's Europa League match last Thursday, needs redemption after a mediocre – at best – performance on Sunday, and Liverpool need at least a couple of experienced players. So he'll probably join Rossiter in the middle, but if Liverpool want to go full youth, Chirivella's also an option.

• Attacking midfield: PLAY FIRMINO CENTRALLY.

• Strikers: Benteke's injured and I'm terrified of starting Sturridge twice in four days so soon after returning. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see him as a substitute late on.

The last time Carlisle lost a match in the league or League Cup – not counting an 0-1 defeat in the Football League Trophy with a wholly changed side – was the same weekend that Liverpool last won a match: three wins and two draws in the league over the last month, and the surprising 2-1 win at QPR which got them to this stage of the competition.

That they're currently 10th in League Two is something of a lie, there solely on goal difference, behind the league leaders by just four points, with just seven points separating 1st and 15th.

I couldn't possibly guess Carlisle's XI or formation, but will note they played 4-4-2 in their last match at York: Gillespie; Miller, Raynes, Archibald-Henville, Grainger; Joyce, Sweeney, Kennedy, Dicker; Iberhe, Gilliead. According to Transfer Markt, they've switched between 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 this season, using both formations equally regularly.

Jabo Ibehre, a 32-year-old playing for his ninth lower-league team over his 15-year career, has 10 goals in 10 games this season. He's scored more than 10 goals in a season just once: for League One Walsall in 2008-09. To say he's on a bit of a hot streak is an understatement. Just in time to face a Liverpool side renowned for conceding early and often, in the most unlikely and hilarious ways. Hurrah. Also, there's one familiar name in Carlisle's squad: left-back Danny Grainger, a player that Liverpool faced in Rodgers' first season, in both legs of the Europa League qualifiers against Hearts.

No matter how many changes Liverpool make to the XI, we need to see a response to the trauma of the last month. We need to see individual players actually playing to the levels we know they can reach, we need to see some semblance of a team. Yes, this is still the League Cup, the redheaded stepchild of competitions, but it has been 36 days since Liverpool last won a match. You can't go an hour without reading yet another RODGERS OUT article online.

There have only been seven matches, but this season's quickly slipping out of hand already. Time to stop the rot.

Meta: There almost certainly won't be a match review because it's not on television in the US and I won't have access to a DVR. And there most likely won't be a match infographic either, because a) I probably won't see the match and b) even though Who Scored now has the necessary stats for the League and FA Cups, I doubt I'll want to put that amount of effort into a third-round League Cup match. I'm sorry I'm a lazy man and that I've spoiled you.

1 comment :

SGeorge said...

Yes your commitment/driving obsession leaves me disappointed in the absence of after-action analysis - especially when it could be a recently rare positive expert analysis - unless you know something I don't know [which is usually the case]...