12:45pm (7:45am EST) Saturday, October 20
The Lowdown: Let’s start with the obvious…
Need I say more?
The Merseyside Derby comes at an interesting (some might say crucial) time of the season for the Reds. Not only does Liverpool have the memory of last season’s embarassment at Goodison Park to scrub away, but after a string of poor performances and average results, the team
looks needs to get back to its winnings ways.
Once again, Rafa’s catching shit for his rotation policy, some in the squad have come under heavy criticism for individual performances and some people are whispering that the departure of Paco has sent the squad into a tailspin. But, everybody recognizes the next few matches (at Everton, at Besiktas, vs. Arsenal) as either getting Liverpool’s season back on track or derailing that train.
Rafa on the importance of Saturday’s match:
Winning a game like this can change everything and we are looking forward to the derby.
It’s important for us to win this game. Everton are in a good position in the league and have started the season well.
We know it will be a tough and very physical game. We have confidence and the players know how much this match means to our supporters.
So, motivation shouldn’t be a problem.
What could be a problem is the way Liverpool were playing before the international break if they don’t return to action with a different look. But the Gaffa has spread the blame evenly, refusing to single out players:
The problem is a tactical problem and it is my problem. Confidence is also an issue but not the physical condition of the players. We are running more and faster than before.
I am really worried about the team over the past few games, because we are not playing at our level.
So I say the team is not playing well and you cannot pick out one player.
The team is working hard so we need to improve tactically and we need to improve our confidence.
As for the actual team, there could be a few more players in the mix for selection. As Rafa noted earlier in the week, it’s funny how everybody seems to get healthy ahead of the derby.
The news on Torres and his muscle tear/twinge is promising and it sounds as if he could make the bench. I’d be surprised to see him start, but if he’s healthy enough, have at it! Kuyt should be fit, Alonso is getting close and Kewell may soon make his season debut. (enter your own ‘and season bow-out’ joke here)
Rafa on injured players returning:
Torres trained well on Wednesday and we will have another session on Thursday and Friday afternoon, then we will make a decision.
We have three players who are very close to returning and we will see how they are before I decide on the team to face Everton.
It is always a risk but I will talk to the doctor and maybe it is not such a big risk here.
I think all of the players want to play. Some have injuries but when I see them in the dressing room or in the corridor all of them say, ‘I am ready if you want’. You know they want to play.
As for the opposition, the Toffees sit tenth in the table with 13 points, three behind Liverpool. Their form at home has been slightly above average — two wins, one loss, one draw — with five goals for and three conceded. But, I tend to believe that when it comes to emotional matches like the derby, form and records past can be thrown out the window.
As for injuries, Tim Cahill may have a part to play after returning to training this week from… wait for it, wait for it… a metatarsal injury. The tenacious midfielder, who has developed a nasty habit of scoring in the derby (three goals in six matches), has been missing for some three months but could be handed a place on the bench by David Moyes.
Cahill could be joined by fellow gimp, Thomas Gravesen, whose season has been roughly 30 minutes longer than Cahill’s due to a knee injury. But, the Toffees will definately be without striker James Vaughn and diver Andrew Johnson, who just started running after an ankle operation. (before one dives, he must first learn to run)
But Everton still have some useful players in the side, with Arteta and McFadden being the most in-form at the moment. But, Yakubu should be the man to watch up front for the Bitters.
And, I came across this while slumming through some Evertonian websites. Who knew the lesser half of Liverpool had such a
keen sense of humor? Then again, if you were a Evertonian, laughter might be the only thing keeping you from offing yourself.
I’m reminded of the words of Shankly…
If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I’d pull the curtains.
Five Questions TBA:
- What kind of football will Liverpool play? The quick-touch, free-flowing attacking footy we saw versus Derby or the boot-it-up-the-field and generally-phone-it-in-type effort we saw against Marseille?
- Which of the injured will make the squad?
- Will tempers flare up? How many cards will we see?
- Will SopCast actually work this weekend? (I fear I already know the answer)
- Does Joleon Lescott have the worst hair in the Premier League?