Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Liverpool Vs Swansea City- A Preview to the League Cup TIe

After a disappointing and frankly insipid goalless draw against Hull City, Liverpool welcome Swansea City to Anfield. Liverpool missed the chance to surge ahead in the league table and their wastefulness was punished by the likes of Arsenal who moved ahead of the Reds on goal difference. Brendan Rodgers' stunning insistence on playing one up top was his downfall once again as Liverpool failed to break down a resilient Tigers defence. While Hull City did play well and were strong at the back, Liverpool played into their hands. There was no speed in the play with Mario Balotelli often isolated up top. The full backs Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo were not their usual attacking selves and did not involve themselves in the game much. Raheem Sterling, who has been visibly fatigued over the past few games, produced a weary and jaded performance with nothing noteworthy. It only took the arrival of substitutes Rickie Lambert and Phillipe Coutinho to bring a bit of life to the team.

The positive to take from this game is that Lambert and Balotelli linked up well together. While the presumed consensus suggested that the two big men could not exist together, the evidence pointed to the contrary with both exchanging good bits of play with one another. Another glimmer of hope could come from the resurgence of Phillipe Coutinho. The recalled Brazilian international had a very disappointing start to the season with no incision to his play but the past few games have suggested that things are changing. Against Hull, Coutinho came on and immediately looked busy and had some nice bits of skill. He almost even won the game after jinking past two defenders to play a scintillating ball for Balotelli in the dying embers of the game but unfortunately, the latter was not able to convert. Still, despite the prevalent lifelessness and morbidity, there still is a silver lining and with the defence having a much more comfortable outing than usual, all hope is still not lost. But, now, the Reds face a stern challenge in the form of high flying Swansea City in the Capitol One Cup. The Reds will almost certainly not find it easy against the Welsh opposition who have played some exhilarating football under Garry Monk.

Suggested Line Up

Brad Jones 

------------ Ryan Mclaughlin----------Martin Skrtel----------Dejan Lovren--------Brad Smith

                                                                   Lucas Leiva
                                       Jordan Rossiter------------------Jordan Henderson

                                                                  Phillipe Coutinho
                                        Mario Balotelli----------------Rickie Lambert

  • I think that it is only fair that Brad Jones get a fair try in the Cup which as of right now is not of paramount importance to Liverpool. Simon Mignolet has not been dazzling but not clueless at the same time and it would not hurt to give Jones some game time.
  • The full baks have played a lot of games and racked up a lot of miles and it showed against Hull City. It would therefore be wise to rest them before the game against Newcastle. 
  • However, it is imperative that the centre-backs stay the same as both Lovren and Skrtel need confidence and comfort in playing next to one another and that will only come with more game time. 
  • Lucas Leiva is a solid DM and a good squad player to have. Steven Gerrard is in desperate need of a rest and Lucas is there to provide cover. On the other hand, Jordan Henderson had a rest against Hull and should play against the swans next to Jordan Rossiter who looked really promising on his debut in the previous round against Middlesborough. 
  • The front three of Coutinho, Lambert and Balotelli are in need of getting some rhythm and confidence going and after promising signs against Hull, it is important for them to continue the good work. 
Prediction - 2-2 Draw with Liverpool winning on penalties. I do not think Liverpool will be able to handle the Swansea attack who are bound to give the defence a tough time and as a result, I see them leaking goals. However, I also see Liverpool scoring with Lambert getting on the scoresheet. With the way Liverpool took their penalties against Middlesborough, I think they can beat the Swans on penalties. 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Liverpool Vs Hull City - A Preview

After a special but devastating night where Liverpool were soundly beaten 3-0 at the hands of perennial giants Real Madrid, the club has to go again with 11th place Hull City coming to Anfield. While there is a lot to ponder for Brendan Rodgers and his men, it is not all doom and gloom as it seems. The Reds are joint fourth ahead of presumed competitors Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton. This game mounts a huge opportunity for the Reds to cement their place in the top four with West Ham(currently in fourth) facing Man City and Man Utd facing Chelsea. 

Last time these two sides met, Liverpool won courtesy of a Daniel Agger header and a Luis Suarez free kick. Of course, it would need no reminding to Liverpool fans that these two players have since moved on. Hull City come to Anfield with decent form , with a draw against Arsenal being their last result. They pose some threats with Abel Hernandez who is a predator in the air and Mohamed Diame who is a strong and resilient midfielder. This is not going to be a stroll in the park for Liverpool and the players have to be on their level best to get all three points.

Suggested Team Line Up
Simon Mignolet

Javier Manquillo ----------- Martin Skrtel----------Dejan Lovren-------Alberto Moreno

Emre Can

                               Jordan Henderson-----------------------------Adam Lallana

Phillipe Coutinho

                         Raheem Sterling ---------------------------------Rickie Lambert 

    Formation- 4-4-2 Diamond

    • The first change should be Javier Manquillo coming in for Glen Johnson. Glen Johnson has been out of form for some time now and while there have been bursts of resurgence, there has been nothing solid. Manquillo is an energetic player prepared to run and support the attack in addition to his defensive duties. He wrongfully lost his place to Glen Johnson and deserves it back.
    • The much ridiculed defence of Liverpool cannot be changed right now because of injuries. While Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren have not been in the best of form, they are better than the error prone Kolo Toure. So while Mamadou Sakho is still out from injury, these two should stick it out. 
    • Steven Gerrard is not a young man anymore and playing 3 games in the space of 6 days should be too much for him so I would expect Emre Can to come in who did a good job as a substitute in the Madrid game. He is strong and will likely be better handled to cope with the physicality of the midfield of Huddlestone, Diame and Livermore. 
    • Adam Lallana also did well coming on against Real Madrid. He is a very dynamic player and currently brings more to the table than Joe Allen who despite being a tidy passer, does not match up to Lallana's technical attributes. 
    • Brendan Rodgers hinted at Sterling playing up top in his pre match press conference and that is exactly what he should do. While coming of as a controversial decision, Mario Balotelli should be rested against Hull. There has been a lot of media storm after his shirt-swapping and car threatening incidents this week. It would be better for the team to not worry about these problems. Rickie Lambert has had a mundane start to his Liverpool career with only 129 minutes under his belt. He should get the nod as he is a hard worker and a good passer of the ball.
    • Finally, the diamond formation is Liverpool's best system and the players seem to understand it better. Hopefully, Rodgers sees this and applies it. 

    My Prediction- 2-1 to Liverpool- While Hull may pose a threat, I can see Liverpool just making it through but not without trouble and definitely not with a clean sheet the way the team has been playing.