With less than 2 hrs before kick off,the only thing that is doing rounds inside my head is,what will be Liverpools starting eleven.Ideally for the biggest match of the season for a Scouser against their bitter rivals, you would want all your fit players ready to give their all.Unfortunately for Liverpool,they have been plagued down by injuries to couple of their most influential players - Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.Though it seems like they have passed the fitness test and would be included in the squad,it would be highly unlikely that they will feature in the starting line up.
So in the absence of Torres,in almost all likeliness,it would be Robbie Keane heading the line for Liverpool,Unless ofcourse,Rafael Benetiz has some other plans like pushing him to left wing or to even left back for some god-known reasons.The stupidity of this ploy was very much evident last week against Villa where he was hardly noticeable at the left sided position for the entire first half and the only time he got a chance to maurder around near the penalty box,he showed what he is capable of.But hopefully with the signing of Albert Riera,one can see Robbie in his rightful positon.In case torres cant start,I expect Benetiz to start with a lone striker though i hope he plays with two - (Keane & Babbel/Ngog) and take the attack to Manchester from the begining itself.
Another noticeable aspect of last weeks frustrating tame draw against Villa was Liverpools lack of ambition and drive.It was like they were happy in settling for a draw and if they could nick it in the end,it would be an added bonus.Not something a die hard liverpool supporter like me want to see.This is what the absence of Stevie G does to this team.Without him,there is no spark from the midfield to drive the game forward and strikers are forced more nd more to come deeper inside to see more of the ball.So the chances are that Mascherano will partner Alonso in the center of the midfield with Riera down the Left and Kuyt on the Right.With that midfield four,I see absolutely nothing going forward.Hopefully Riera will prove to be more of a conventional winger than the likes of Yossi and Babbel who likes cutting inside and thereby becoming easily predictable.I'm eagerly waiting to see how Riera will shape up and whether he can provide the width liverpool had been badly looking for,ever since i can remember.
Many have been criticizing Kuyt for his dismal performances down the right.But i don think thats fair at all.It is Rafa who should be blamed.When the transfer window opened,there were three places where Liverpool needed strengthening - One more world class striker and two Wingers ( 1 Left\ Right )But Benetiz spend most of the time and energy trying to recruit one Mr.Barry to an already overpacked Liverpool Midfield.If Benetiz had gone chasing behind Barry after securing a good winger as well,his motive could have been understood.But that not being the case,I feel he got his priorities wrong.Kuyt must be appreciated for his effort and his work rate which he has been putting despite playing him out of his position.I dono what is it with Rafael Benetiz that he doesnt like his best players to play in their preffered position whether it be Stevie G,Robbie Keane or Dirk Kuyt.
I expect the back four to be same as usual with Carra,Skrtel,Dosseina and Arbeloa though ideally i would prefer to see Aurelio in place of Dosseina.What I heard when Dosseina was signed was that,he was an attacking wing back.But after watching him over the Last 3 matches,he resembles another Riise.Also hope Benetiz asks Arbeloa to get more into the game going forward thereby giving kuyt the much needed support.All the goals conceded by Liverpool against Man.utd over the preious recent encounters have been through setplays.I'm sure Benetiz would have worked hard on that with his boys and would want to ensure that they don concede a goal like that today.Reina would also be keen to make amends for his shoddy display agains the champions last time at Anfield.
All said and done,I expect Man utd to nick it again this time coz they have some amazing talent going forward and I don think Liverpool are ready yet.Irrespective of whether we lose or win,I just hope to see Rafa asking his boys to display an attacking style of football,playing without fear,playing for the crowd,the Liverpool way.
Oh boy,its almost time and the excitement is really starting to get to me.All I wanna do now is Switch on the tele and Listen to Andy Gray scream
You Will Never Walk Alone
Pure Salvation...Nothing in the world could have been more sweeter than watching this display of Liverpool where they ouplayed and outgunned the Manures..For once,I felt Ferguson got his tactics wrong with his 4-3-3 formation where Rooney was forced to play through the sidelines and thereby hardly posing a threat.Having said that,I expect them to come back stronger after this reversal.Liverpool on the other hand was a breath of fresh air playing with flair and panache,tht too in the absence of Torres and Gerrard.Riera did catch my eye and he does posses the skills to get past players and deliver useful crosses..And Of course,Alonso..he was simply superb..after being pushed around by Rafa in the summer and to produce a performance of such magnitude speaks volume of this players capabilities..Mascherano also showed another side of his game going forward..Overall,it was one aggressive and flambouyant display from Rafa's men raising hopes and igniting dreams tht atlast this would be the year when we recapture the glory of the past.I know I might be getting carried away because of just one win over their fiercest rivals.But then after such a disply,who can blame me for getting carried away.Though Im still not sure Rafa is the man for the job to take Liverpool to title No.19..I certainly do hope he comes up with more such displays to prove me wrong...More of the same please...Rafa..
You'll Never Walk Alone..
An Overjoyed Liverpool Fan