Blackpool v Liverpool
26 December 2010, 3pm GMT
Pitch inspection at 12 noon on day of game.
With Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash pencilled to go ahead on Sunday, Roy Hodgson’s side will make the trip to Bloomfield Road with the aim of boxing the Tangerines out of the way and securing a famous away win to be savoured for years to come.
In a week which saw former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez sacked from his post at Inter, fans have ramped up the pressure on the current owners to reinstall him back as manager, leaving Roy Hodgson having to dismiss speculation over his possible return.
The heat is truly well on Hodgson, with his last away outing ending in an embarrassing 1-3 defeat at the hands of the Geordies. Liverpool under Hodgson look increasingly mediocre, and surprisingly, the man of contradictions refuses to shoulder the blame for most of his failures this season.
At the start of this week, he said the Liverpool side didn’t feel like his, due to the fact that it was made up of Benitez signings. Was he just distancing himself away from the blame, and at the same time making himself look that he’s up for the job?
Afterwards, it was followed by the Joe Cole comments, going so far as to suggest he didn’t want to pursue that signing in the first place, instead pushing the blame onto Christian Purslow. Later on he went on to say we’re going to have ‘5 days in 15 games’, making himself look like a fool in public.
Liverpool, having just secured 2 away wins on the road this season, need a massive boost ahead of their festive season. As this clash is the last away fixture of 2010, it could be a perfect tonic to set the tone for our travels in 2011.
With Gerrard and Agger back to full fitness, Liverpool have all their senior players available for selection with the exception of Reds stalwart Jamie Carragher, and reserves star Jay Spearing, who has yet to make his mark on the Liverpool team.
Hodgson’s major dilemma: With the return of Gerrard, will it be wise to break the burgeoning midfield pairing of Meireles and Lucas?
In Liverpool’s previous travel up to Bloomfield Road in August 1970, it ended in a stalemate between both sides. Liverpool have not lost at Bloomfield Road in their decorated history, so defeat would mean Hodgson has no excuses but to shoulder much blame. The fans’ public outcry will also continue, with them demanding the return of Rafa to complete unfinished business, after the EPL title eluded him during his 6 years’ tenure at the Reds helm.
With Liverpool having a 2 weeks ‘mini-winter break’, the side are perhaps raring to go and claim all three points against Blackpool. Blackpool, having a game in hand against Liverpool, could go on top of the Reds if they take all 3 points. With 8 teams having 20-22 points, the table is tight and it definitely is a game of consequences.
It is also speculated that Rafa will attend the game on Sunday, although that remains unconfirmed.
Expected Liverpool lineup (4-2-3-1): Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Konchesky, Meireles, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi, Torres.
Blackpool 1-1 Liverpool