Blackburn v Liverpool
5 January 2011, 20:00
New year, new hopes?
An away fixture to Ewood Park looms in the horizon. Liverpool, stagnant in the Premier League table, need a massive three points from this to regenerate a confidence boom ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup clash against arch-rivals, Manchester United.
Completing the double against Bolton perhaps worked wonders for the Reds’ edgy mentality. Joe Cole’s 92nd minute winner against the Trotters ensured the Reds took 2011 forward with a bang, embracing it, putting the old of 2010 behind.
But could we build on what was done against Bolton, and take the game to Blackburn? Much of it remains to be seen, as Hodgson’s preference for retention of shape and a deep backline in away games tend to not bring out the best of his key players.
Will Hodgson let his team out of the restricted cage, and press for more creative freedom from the likes of Gerrard, and Torres? Will he put 35 years of experience behind him, forget his traditions, let loose and allow the players to run riot on the pitch?
That needs to be the case, for Liverpool to get any sort of win out of the clash. If Hodgson takes his team there with an intention to sit tight, and hit the Rovers on the break, then it’s not going to work.
Towards the build up to this game, there has been lesser rife speculation about Hodgson’s tenure. But whispers still remain on Kenny Dalglish’s imminent return. Hodgson knows he’s walking on a tight rope, and a crucial away victory must be the only solution for him to lengthen his stay at a club steeped in history.
Steven Gerrard, who came off the bench and played a major part in both goals against Bolton, should start in central midfield, pairing up with the ever-present Lucas. Cole, having a season blighted by injuries and lack of form, could start off Torres. Torres has scored 5 goals in his last 4 appearances against Blackburn.
Gerrard will make his 550th appearance if he gets the nod today. Two certain absentees are Raul Meireles, who sustained a minor injury against Bolton. Jamie Carragher is the other Reds stalwart who will not feature until March 2011.
For me, it’s about time we put our wretched away form behind. It’s about time all doom and gloom was lifted from the fans’ shoulders. It’s about time we saw another away win, and give the fanatical away support something to cheer.
We look on, fingers crossed, optimistic for the future. Determined to correct the wrongs. Right ownership, right hands, we will take the strides and prove the doubters wrong.
Expected Liverpool line-up (4-2-3-1): Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio, Gerrard, Lucas, Kuyt, Cole, Maxi, Torres.
Blackburn 1-2 Liverpool
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