29 January 2018

Liverpool at Huddersfield 01.30.18

3pm ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (h) 10.28.17
2-0 Liverpool (a; FA Cup) 12.12.99
1-0 Liverpool (a) 02.12.72
2-0 Liverpool (h) 10.23.71

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-3 West Brom (h); 0-1 Swansea (a); 4-3 City (h)
Huddersfield: 1-1 Birmingham (h); 0-2 Stoke (a); 1-4 West Ham (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Salah 18; Firmino 10; Coutinho 7; Mané 6; Oxlade-Chamberlain 3; Sturridge 2; Alexander-Arnold, Can, Henderson, Klavan, Lovren, Matip, Wijnaldum 1
Huddersfield: Depoitre 5; Mooy, Mounie 4; Ince, Kachunga, Lolley, van la Parra 1

Referee: Kevin Friend (LFC History) (WhoScored)

Guess at a line-up:
Gomez Lovren van Dijk Robertson
Alex O-C Henderson Milner
Salah Firmino Mané

An 18-match unbeaten run has been followed by two consecutive losses against the two worst sides in the Premier League. What appeared to be Liverpool's strongest available XI just got knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, conceding three first half goals to a team that hadn't scored three against Premier League opposition since March 2017. Liverpool have now allowed eight goals from the last ten opposition shots on-target.

So, yeah, everything's going great, how are you doing?

Karius will come back in, Henderson will almost certainly make his first start since injury, there will be a few changes in defense, but otherwise, Liverpool are what Liverpool are right now. A new signing's not likely, and to compound matters, Sturridge is almost certainly leaving – not that we've seen much of him over the last few months.

Liverpool's current players have to do better within the set-up. That's how Liverpool have approached the market this month, and that is Jürgen Klopp's philosophy. And they especially have to do it against sides like West Brom and Swansea. The defense needs to be smarter and more cohesive. The midfield needs to be more creative and offer more protection against fast breaks. And the attack simply needs to take its chances.

And while Huddersfield isn't quite in the predicament of West Brom and Swansea, they'll play in a similar manner. The last meeting between this sides was the template for what Liverpool needed to do in their last two losses. Huddersfield sat deep, more a 4-3-3 than their usual 4-2-3-1. And Liverpool were frustrated in a first half that they at least patiently controlled. Liverpool weren't at their best, Liverpool struggled, but Liverpool kept going, and Liverpool sped away in the second half with three goals. That 3-0 win was the start of Liverpool's 18-match unbeaten run. They'd go on to do similar to Maribor, Southampton, Stoke, and Brighton over the next few weeks.

That's what's been lost in the last couple of matches, in the last couple of weeks. We saw signs of losing it a month ago, against both Everton and West Brom.

At least it's not been the best of months for Huddersfield either. They're still in the FA Cup – albeit needing a replay after a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham – but Huddersfield's last three league matches have been 0-3 at Leicester, 1-4 against West Ham, and 0-2 at Stoke. That's, um, not good.

Huddersfield were 10th going into the last meeting. They're currently 14th, but only two points outside the relegation places. But also two points away from 10th. The bottom half of the table is not fun for those involved this season.

Tomorrow's XI will probably look similar to that which started at Anfield, although in more of a 4-2-3-1 formation than 4-3-3. Lössi; Smith, Zanka, Schindler, Malone; Hogg, Mooy; Ince, Pritchard, van la Parra; Depoitre. There are a few alternatives: Lolley could start in place of Pritchard, Löwe in place of Malone, Hadergjonaj in place of Smith, and Mounie in place of Depoitre. Pritchard is the only real difference since these sides met in November, signed from Tottenham two weeks ago. Kachunga and Stankovic are out injured, while Danny Williams and Cranie are doubtful.

There's no sugar-coating the last week. It has been bad. Swansea was mediocre and unfortunate – more failing to take your chances and then a single set play breakdown rather than all-encompassing evil – but West Brom was all-encompassing evil. West Brom was bad, in all three phases of play. West Brom was a deterioration from the Swansea set-back rather than a response, West Brom was a painful reminder of what Liverpool did last January.

Y'all dug yourself into this hole. All y'all. Dig your way out.

No comments :