Win it and the title is ours for the taking. Get a
draw…likewise. Lose our clash at Anfield and it’s
certainly not over…but it probably will be if they-then beat
April. I don’t like the last scenario very
'Strengths' are in our favour
Let’s get the obvious out of the way,
Liverpool have amazing strength in
attack. It’s not just SAS – Suarez & Sturridge
– Coutinho & Stirling
add a certain potency from the wings too.
Is their attack any better than ours? Well the ‘goals for’ in the Premier League column does suggest that it’s ever so slightly better. But if we add goals from ‘all competitions’ in there, I bet we blow them out of the water!
All in all, I suppose it’s about the same…although I will make a strong point of mentioning that a certain Sergio Aguero has missed a whopping 14 Premier League games and only played bit-parts / half-games in a further 4. That means that he’s only played the majority of 13 league games of 31 so far!
So, ‘forward lines’ put aside, this is where we leave
Liverpool trailing in our wake, in my opinion.
Have we had a few defence concerns throughout the season? Of course we have. We’ve had the left-back dilemma all season, something, which, isn’t going to go away until we sign at least 1 class left-back. And we’ve had the ‘Demichelis debate’ for what seems like the last 6 months now. In fact, despite his MUCH improved performances and growing partnership with Kompany, there are a few concerned Blues faces out there when they look at the pace of Suarez pitched against his much older, South American cousin this Sunday afternoon.
But if our defence has been under scrutiny then what about
Liverpool’s? The ‘against’ column in the Premier League
shows them to have conceded 11 more goals than us (albeit they’ve played 2 more
games than we have) and have kept just 10 clean sheets from 33 games, against
our 13 clean sheets from a fewer 31 games.
Then there’s the midfield. For all his past successes, great performances and penalty-taking exploits; does an almost 34-year old Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and ex-Swansea City Joe Allen really match up equally to Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, David Silva & Samir Nasri etc? Do they ‘eckers like! And this, not for the first time [against most opponents], is where we’ll truly break away from
and can come away from Anfield with something.
Aside from some excellent defending in our 2-1 victory over
Liverpool at the Etihad
in December, it was the quality of our midfield in my opinion that won it for
us, not to mention the strength in numbers in a 4-5-1 home formation.
Not only did we, in general, cut off the supply to a very frustrated Uruguayan striker; we counteracted anything their similarly-compact midfield could throw at us that day; as they played Suarez up front on his own with a counter-attacking midfield behind him - Coutinho scoring the opener and Liverpool’s only goal…
And this, in my opinion, is where they’ll fail even more-so…unless Brendan Rodgers is even MORE ‘on the ball’ than I already give him credit for. The reason? Sturridge wasn’t fit for the Boxing Day, Etihad encounter and so 4-months-on and dozens of goals later; who could blame the
Liverpool boss for wanting to play both SAS
at home against us?
I hope he does…because that will fall straight into our hands!
Straight into our hands, that is, unless Pellegrini has something similar planned, which, in my opinion, could backfire on him (and us). Of course it’s tempting to play both fit-again Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo together – for SAS also read Beauty and The Beast. Early-week reports stated that our manager was planning an all-out attack on Liverpool and that’s all well ‘n’ good;
Liverpool do have that
afore-mentioned creaky defence of course.
But if we want to have a serious chance of getting something out of this pivotal game then, again in my opinion, we need to ‘compact’ that midfield with attacking players again.
The only quandary in doing this is…just how fit-again is Sergio? Because, of course, if we do go something like a 4-5-1 / 4-2-3-1 against Liverpool and our Argentinean Battleship is ready for a starting place; why would he NOT get chosen ahead of goal-drought-victim Negredo and (even) in-form Dzeko?
But could he stand up to the rigours of going from no games in 8 to the fiery caldron of a vital, top-of-the-table clash at Anfield? That would concern me a little…
Okay, so from midfield upwards Pellegrini’s attacking plan could look like this:
Pretty potent, if not a little on the vulnerable-looking side with, mostly, Fernandinho left to help out the defence.
Or he could satisfy his attacking wish / instinct and really go for it, with…
Again, looks pretty good and would CERTAINLY put them on the ‘back foot’ in many ways.
Personally, I think I’d like to see this:
Yeah…I’ve gone for the, “risk”, of using Sergio up front on his own and the combo of Milner and Fernandinho ‘sitting in there’ might also look a little unambitious in a way.
But WITH those two in there and doing the dirty, sweeping-up and harassing work; Sergio would have the almost-uninterrupted support of Samir, Yaya and David…and THAT’S priceless!
There’s a decent argument too for using Jovetic in this one but, then again, there are SO many options and formulas that I could spend a full day on it (probably driving myself mad!)
Step forward ‘The Engineer’
|This is Anfield...|
Hart, Demichelis, Kompany & Zabaleta set in stone. I think he’ll go for the more-defensively-solid
over Kolarov, who gets a place on the
Fernandinho, hopefully, to have a better game than his apparent-niggley injury allowed him to have against Southampton…and then a colossal supporting 4 behind the returning Argentinean Assassin!
A very much attack-minded bench, with also Lescott available if needed and Milner for his defensive, attacking, energy and much-determined endeavours if required too.
Result? I think we can take these. We might concede but, as the old adage goes; you score one and we’ll score two. And I think we'll do just that.
There are goals in this one for sure…but more in our game-‘for’ column than theirs at the end of the match I think. My main concern? Penalty decisions to the home side…
Strap yourselves in!