Often Partisan

Liverpool Preview

So, on Sunday we host the red flavour of scouseland, and I thought I’d put together some thoughts about what I think will happen.

1) Deadline Day was busy, but don’t expect to see any new recruits on Sunday

Jean Beausejour (hereafter referred to as Dave, for reasons that are too complicated to explain now) is still in Chile, patiently waiting for his visa to come through so he can play for us. Alexander Hleb has a knock to his leg he received whilst playing for Belarus. Throw in the fact that McLeish is notoriously slow to blood new recruits (cf Michel), and you get the answer that in all probability none of our deadline day trio will line up in the first team on Sunday.

2) The Hoodoo is over, the Hodgson is here.

Barring the horrific 7-0 mauling in the FA Cup, Rafa had a real problem beating us. I think I’m right in saying that in six meetings with us in the Premiership, Rafa’s Liverpool never beat us. However, the Spanish waiter has left this country for the sunnier climes of Italy and Internazionale, and in his place the ex-Internazionale (and more recently Fulham) manager Roy Hodgson has taken charge. Roy did well at Fulham, and I expect him to give us a tough team to play against on Sunday.

3)  Unbeaten records

Both teams come into the game unbeaten this season; and Blues go into this game unbeaten at home for two weeks shy of a whole year. Seventeen league games is a long time for a team like Blues to go unbeaten in the top flight, and I fear for the record on Sunday. Liverpool took the lead when we played them at home last season, only for Liam Ridgewell to equalise with his, ahem, inner thigh. Whilst we’re unbeaten this season, we’ve not kept a clean sheet and we’re looking shaky at the back at times. Of course, the good news is we’re scoring goals, but I think we’ll need to firm up a lot if we’re going to get any kind of result.

4) A Bold Prediction

Whilst I’ve been quite pessimistic with my points above, I do think we will get a result – purely because we can score goals now. I think we’ve got enough options now to have options and to be able to alter things. I suspect we’ll play a 4-4-1-1 if Hleb does play, with Hleb playing just off Zigic or Jerome and the midfield joining in whenever they get the chance. If Hleb is indeed unfit then we’ll maybe partner Zigic with Jerome and maybe rely on Jerome’s pace to expose the flatfootedness of elder statesmen like Carragher. For once, I can’t automatically name an eleven – and this is a good thing. As much as I admire players like Fahey for the steps up they’ve made, it’s a better feeling knowing that in future weeks we might be having to make a choice between a pacy winger in Dave or the tricky “pop up anywhere” James McFadden, instead of (with all due respect) an Irish journeyman plodder.

My prediction – 1-0. Jerome to score the winner, and the scousers to demand a minute’s silence to mourn the loss of three points

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