19 September 2016

Liverpool at Derby 09.20.16

2:45pm ET, not live on TV in the US. It's available on BeIN Sports Connect if you have access to that streaming service, maybe also LFCTV GO if you're a subscriber (it's unclear on that front but I wouldn't hold my breath), otherwise streams. I'm not even seeing any delayed showings on US TV.

Last four head-to-head:
2-1 Liverpool (a) 12.26.07
6-0 Liverpool (h) 09.01.07
2-0 Liverpool (h) 04.20.02
1-0 Liverpool (a) 12.01.01

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-1 Chelsea (a); 4-1 Leicester (h); 1-1 Tottenham (a)
Derby: 1-1 Bristol City (a); 0-1 Ipswich (h); 0-2 Newcastle (h)

Previous rounds:
Liverpool: 5-0 Burton Albion (a)
Derby: 1-1 Carlisle aet [14-13 pens] (h); 1-0 Grimsby (h)

Goalscorers (all):
Liverpool: Firmino 3; Coutinho, Lallana, Mané, Sturridge 2; Henderson, Lovren, Milner, Origi 1
Derby: Anya, Bent, Forsyth, Keogh 1

Referee: Graham Scott

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Matip Lovren Moreno
Henderson Can Grujic
Mané Origi Firmino

As much as we'd like to see some changes, a rare start for players we've not seen enough of this season, tomorrow's XI will probably be much the same as the ones which have come before. Liverpool played a strong XI in the last round at Burton, and Liverpool will almost certainly play a strong XI tomorrow at Derby.

The League Cup was important for Liverpool last season, the first sustained statement of intent under Klopp by reaching the final, only to lose on penalties. I assume it will continue to be so, especially without European competition this season.

There will, of course, be a couple of alterations. This seems the perfect time for Loris Karius' debut, healthy after a broken hand, having been on the bench for the last two matches. Hopefully Emre Can's available as well, but even if not, Liverpool have another possibility in Kevin Stewart. Origi will probably start up front, as he did in the last round. Maybe Moreno's released from his cage? And that's probably about it.

I'm guessing the most change comes in midfield. Lallana's run miles upon miles so far this season, while Wijnaldum's not far behind, looking completely spent by the end of Saturday's match. Maybe Henderson joins them as well; Liverpool do have three potential replacements in Can, Stewart, and/or Grujic.

But otherwise, expect to see Firmino back, expect to see Mané keep his place, expect to see a fairly similar back four considering Matip and Lovren need games together and there really isn't much in the way of a replacement for Clyne. Expect Liverpool to pretty much be Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Derby County have scored just two league goals in eight Championship games. Yeah. Two. And two in the two League Cup matches. Liverpool scored more goals in the previous round than Derby has all season. And, having watched Liverpool for multiple years, I can't decide whether that's a good or bad thing. Derby hadn't scored in a league match since August 16th until Ikechi Anya gave them a 1-0 lead just before halftime on Saturday, on pace to win in 90 minutes for the first time in a month. And then they went and screwed it up by conceding an injury-time equalizer. Poor Derby.

But, to be fair and despite that injury time equalizer, they aren't allowing many goals either, having given up two goals in a match just twice: at Barnsley and against Newcastle. They've kept four clean sheets in all competitions, which is three more than Liverpool have.

There are familiar faces in the Derby squad. Former Liverpool players Scott Carson and Tom Ince. Former Liverpool target Will Hughes. James Wilson, on loan from Manchester United. Players who have caused Liverpool trouble in the past: Andreas Weimann (recently back from injury), while at Aston Villa; Bradley Johnson, while at Norwich; and Darren Bent, while at around half the clubs in the country.

Unsurprisingly, having seen little of Derby this season, my best guess at an XI is similar to that which they've used in the last two matches. But there will have to at least a couple of changes with both Vydra and Anya cup-tied. So, let's guess Carson; Christie, Keogh, Pearce, Olsson; Butterfield, Hughes, Bryson, Ince; Bent, Wilson. Maybe Johnson, who hasn't played in a month, comes into midfield. It'll be either Weimann or Bent up front, and maybe both if James Wilson continues to struggle with a minor injury.

Regardless, Derby will probably play 4-4-2, Derby will probably look to counter, Derby will probably defend in two resolute bands of four. And it'll be up to Liverpool to break them down. It's been slowly getting better, but there have been bumps (specifically, bumps named Burnley), and we're still not convinced Liverpool can consistently break defensive sides down.

Despite Derby's record, it'll be a good test of the side. Liverpool needing to break down an unfancied team that's fairly stingy in defense, Derby with absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It's another chance to prove Liverpool are getting cleverer in these kind of matches. It's another chance to continue to coalesce as a side. And it's another chance to do well in a competition Liverpool clearly want to do well it.

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