Liverpool come to WHL on Saturday for a lunchtime kick off. There’s disruption on both sides. For us there’s no Son, Bentaleb, Mason or Dier. For them no Benteke, Firmino, Ings or Henderson. Or Rodgers of course.
The closest thing the Premier League had to David Brent was asked to clear his desk a fortnight ago following a 1-1 draw at Everton though of course it was the failure to swiftly despatch the likes of the Hamsters and Carlisle added to the availability of a ready-made replacement that had the Americans in the office in Boston reaching for the guillotine.
Traditionally of course playing a team in their first game under a new boss is considered a bad thing what with ‘New Manager Bounce’ and all thus we could really have done without Eric Dier’s suspension in this game. Who will replace one of our season’s star men and start alongside Alli will have occupied much of Pochettino’s thoughts this week. In the absence of Mason and Bentaleb Moussa Dembélé seems the obvious choice but loathe as he would be to break up the back four it wouldn’t be a surprise if Toby Alderweireld were given the opportunity to reprise a role he played often at Southampton. Kevin Wimmer could come in to replace him, though then you’d have two naturally left sided players in the centre which might be a little unbalanced. It’d be a real gamble if Tom Carroll started with Alli.
Lamela, Eriksen, Kane, Chadli will form the attacking quartet with Townsend and Njie ready to inject a bit of pace late on if required. Each of those four owes us a goal or three, now would be a good time to deliver.
Liverpool still have plenty of potent weapons even without their missing players. Sturridge invariably notches against us and Coutinho & Lallana are tricky customers of course. We can expect them to press high which may be to our advantage as it’ll take a few games for any new system to bed in properly. We can hope that there’ll be gaps at the back to exploit if we can nab the ball off them regularly and smartly.
After several years of dominance we’ve had a bad run against the Scousers of late but this is a good opportunity to put things right. This far into the season one would have expected things to have settled down generally but the up and down form of many of the big boys and their main strikers mean that we should probably wait for another 3 or 4 games before we start making judgements about who is set for a good campaign and who’s not – despite the Fenway Sports Group pulling the trapdoor lever so early. A good result here, following our wins over Palace and City, will make others take notice.
Craig Pawson is the referee.
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