Liverpool host neighbours Everton this afternoon in the early kick-off with the intention of reasserting their dominance of last season over the boys from across Stanley Park.
Going into the match, Brendan Rodgers remains without Joe Allen (knee), Emre Can (ankle), Jon Flanagan (knee) and Glen Johnson (thigh). Although Daniel Sturridge should be available after overcoming his thigh injury sustained whilst with England.
Formation-wise, Rodgers should be looking to retain Mamadou Sahko and Dejan Lovren as the central defensive pairing. The two give a good mixture of passing – both short and long as well as good positioning over the erratic Martin Skrtel. The pair have come in for some criticism this morning from Jamie Carragher in the Daily Mail. But let’s face it, their the best we have right now in my opinion. I expect Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo to remain at left and right back respectively, and Steven Gerrard returning to the side in front of the back four.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that Lucas will return to the midfield along with Jordan Henderson in the absence of Can and Allen. Adam Lallana played very well in midweek and he looks as if he’s returning to form. I expect him to start alongside Mario Balotelli with Raheem Sterling in support. On the midweek performance, I don’t see any place for Lazar Marković, who for me remains the only totally unconvincing summer purchase.
Philippe Coutinho may also feature but on recent form, it’s unlikely he’ll get the nod over Lucas. The former’s dip in form this season has been startling and bewildering to say the least and I’m hoping he can play a part today and get his confidence back on track. I’m also looking for a good performance from Simon Mignolet between the sticks as he’s been less than reliable of late. Hopefully the rumors surrounding Victor Valdes will prove to be true and Rodgers can bring in some real competition for the last line of the defence.
Considering the recent run of poor form, Liverpool need to return to their high intensity game that served them so well last season. So far this term they’ve looked to play more to the strengths of Balotelli. Not a good plan. It would be better to stick with the winning formula. The Italian, despite his lack of mobility could still contribute in a high tempo environment and we need to see this again. likewise the centre back pairing, whoever Rodgers goes for needs to start showing more awareness, ability and courage in games and what better time to get things going than now against an Everton side that’s been arguably just as poor so far.
Elsewhere, the match to watch today will be the North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs at the Emirates Stadium for the late kick-off. Last week only Chelsea recorded a victory from the ‘top’ sides, although Spurs will be looking to extend their form with a win over Arsene Wenger’s inconsistent Gooners. For me, the dark horse this year is going to be Southampton who under Ronald Koemann who has put together an impressive unit. They face QPR today so I’d expect another three points for them!
So, let the talking stop and the games begin. Hopefully the mast have report this evening will recount a better affair than last week’s gloomy, rant. Come on Brendan, give the fans something to cheer for.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
After last season’s euphoria and all the summer signings, many Liverpool fans were expecting The Reds to hit the ground running however that was not exactly the case.
With five games played in the Premier League we have already lost three of them including the defeats to Aston Villa at home and last weekend’s defeat to West Ham. Many also point to the fact that we were lucky with our victories against Southampton, the Champions League match against Ludogorets and the League Cup 3rd round game against M’Boro.
However, if you look were we are at it is not so all doom and gloom, we won our first game of the Champions League, we qualified for the next round of the League Cup and in the League we are only 2 points behind Manchester City. Needless to say we are also still above Manchester United and Everton.
Unfortunately some of our fans aren’t helping with the situation, like cheering when a player who hasn’t been performing gets injured, trolling our players on Twitter and even calling for Brendan’s head. With the Merseyside Derby looming this weekend I kept seeing many Tweets like “Everton are going to destroy us”. Say what? The same Everton who are sitting below us in the league table and the same Everton that lost 3-0 to Swansea City and got eliminated from the League Cup? Crazy stuff, however unfortunately that is the beast of the social media infused modern football. And NO LUIS SUAREZ leaving to Barcelona would not have made a difference at this moment in time, remember that HE WAS BANNED (ie can not play) until next month. Technically speaking we can claim that we won our Champions League game against Ludogorents thanks to the efforts of Mario Balotelli. Mario would have likely not been signed had Luis Suarez stayed at Liverpool so there you have it.
Yes I do admit we have been poor, especially in defence. Some players have gone AWOL and have not been performing to their potential while others who just signed are still trying to fit in. We have been horrible at defending set pieces and yes we have been making things very difficult for ourselves. This is very concerning however I have faith in Brendan Rodgers, over the last two seasons the gaffer has shown time and time again that he can (and does) learn from mistakes. Also please stop making assumptions that every single player signed this summer is going to work out, there will be some that will not make it. That is how it always is, I have never seen a manager that got every single signing right on. Remember that the likes of Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Manuel Pellegrini and Claudio Ancelloti all have signed players who failed so please give Brendan a break and let him do his job.
As fans the best thing we can do is to stop Tweeting John W Henry to sign Reus, stop trolling our players and focus the energy on supporting the team. We might not be at our best right now but this is when the club needs us to step up and show what we are all about. Might be worth looking at some betting sites and checking out the current odds on Liverpool, I can easily bet you can get a good deal.
You’ll Never Walk Alone,
don’t just say it, do it.
Jamie Carragher has signed a limited number of Champions League Final commemorative programmes, Liverpool v AC Milan, 2005. They are brand new.
As we near the 10th anniversary of that incredible night in Istanbul, here is your chance to own a piece of history! The signed programme will be sent with another publication called The History of the 49 finals which includes details of Liverpool’s 4 previous triumphs!
There are limited numbers available and Jamie has signed them on the cover in a permanent marker (as per pictures attached).
To order please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your full postal address and preferred payment method. They will be sold on a first come first served basis.
They are £55 each which includes shipping by recorded mail and each one will be accompanied by our unique certificate of authenticity. Payment can be made by paypal, bank transfer or cheque payable to the 23 Foundation. All profits go to our charity.
Last night was another one of those games that seems could only happen to us. Struggling through a relatively straight forward 3rd round cup tie is one thing. But to twice lose the lead to lower league opposition, including conceding a penalty in the very last minute of extra time, is making very hard work of it. To then take part in the longest penalty shootout the competition has ever seen, is us taking a bog-standard early cup game and turning it into a massive talking point in football.
Yesterday, I made a prediction that the game would go to extra time. Not because I weighed up the two sides and decided we were too evenly matched, but instead because of the fact we are playing the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, and I thought it would be just typical for us to spend the night wearing ourselves out and potentially picking up knocks. That’s the sort of mind-set being a Liverpool supporter can put you in sometimes. It seems like we turn everything into an uphill battle, and make things as over-complicated as possible.
It was one of those games that tired you out just watching it, never mind playing in it. I had to remind myself that all we achieved is a pass through to the fourth round of the league cup. It had the feel of a semi-final or final, where no matter how much it takes to win, you keep on going because there’s a significant reward in sight. I suppose in that sense, you can’t fault the character of our players; they battled hard just to stay in the competition, when (I’ll whisper it) it may have been easier to throw in the towel, knowing it would give us a lighter fixture list to really make a go at the league and Champions League. But Liverpool is about winning things, so full credit to our players for their determination.
It was contrasting fortunes for two scousers starting a game for Liverpool for the first time. Ricky Lambert was very quiet, and will be disappointed he couldn’t make more of an impact on the game. Young Jordan Rossiter, however, managed a goal less than ten minutes into his Liverpool career. There was a touch of fortune about the finish, but Rossiter kept his composure well, and also turned in a good performance for the rest of his game.
Raheem Sterling, other than his mistake that led to the penalty, and then his subsequent penalty miss in the shootout, actually had a very good game, and gave Middlesbrough a lot to think about. The two fullbacks, Javier Manquillo and Jose Enrique, also had decent games, Suso came on and made an impact, and I was delighted to see Adam Lallana turn in a Man of the Match performance. There wasn’t a particularly bad performance amongst our players, and after two poor league games and an underwhelming Champions League display, at least last night gave the chance for some players to gel and generate a bit of confidence.
The big talking point, of course, was the penalty shootout to decide the game. Ending with a 14-13 win, there were some exceptional penalties on show, but I might be picky and suggest that Simon Mignolet could have done better with a few of them. After a while though, it was like everyone was just going through the motions. The entire atmosphere of the shootout changed, and whereas they are usually nervy affairs where one person becomes the hero or villain, I was actually finding myself laughing as shot after shot was hitting the back of the net. You could see the anxiety in the players diminish, and smiles started to crack as they realised they were taking part in one of the craziest shootouts this, or any other competition, has ever seen.
No one, Liverpool fan or otherwise, can argue that we don’t provide our fair share of talking points in football. Before this never-ending penalty shootout, we’ve had a beach ball goal, the Anfield cat, the Luis Garcia ghost goal, Suarez’s bites, Gerrard’s slip, Bellamy’s golf club, and £35m on Andy Carroll. Over the longer term, we’ve had seasons of 2nd to 7th, and 7th to 2nd. We’ve had owners nearly plunging us into administration, the season where we broke the record for hitting the woodwork, and of course the most dramatic Champions League and FA Cup finals of modern times. I could go on. Every team gets their moments in the spotlight, but we seem to spend an awful lot of time there.
Supporters of every club probably feel like their team goes through the most ups and downs and is constantly being scrutinised. But Liverpool just seems to attract the most bonkers events that football has to offer. People often refer to the ‘footballing gods’, and if they are up there pulling the strings they sure do love to use LFC as the focal point of a lot of their ideas. One things for sure, if Mario Balotelli came here wanting an answer to his question, he’s going to be very disappointed.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)