Spurs v Liverpool – One change for Reds

There is just one change for Liverpool this afternoon for the visit to White Hart Lane, Lucas Leiva in for Christian Poulsen from the side that beat West Ham 3-0 at Anfield last weekend.

Something that hasn’t changed is that Liverpool’s supporters go into the game with another set of embarrassing quotes from Roy Hodgson ringing in their ears, the man who was a legend in 1970s Sweden continuing to talk like a man trying to win a bet. How many more comments can he make that a manager of Liverpool should just not be making?
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Soto back, Kelly on bench for Reds trip to Stoke

Roy Hodgson has made just one change to his side for tonight’s visit to Stoke City, and it’s sad to see that youngster Martin Kelly is the one to make way. The good news is that coming into the side in his place is Soto Kyrgiakos, recovered from the bug that kept him out of last weekend’s win against Chelsea and the disappointing draw against Wigan on Wednesday.

Once again this Premier League fixture is one that Liverpool must win and fans will be hoping to see the Reds go out to attack.
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Reds face bigger threat than today’s old enemies

Liverpool are in a transitional period, new manager Roy Hodgson needs to be given more time to settle into the job, players were late back from the World Cup and either aren’t fully fit are haven’t been to enough training sessions for Roy to really know them yet.

They are just some of the reasons put forward to try and explain an awful start to Liverpool’s league season; those reasons are rapidly becoming excuses.

When the manager himself uses them it seems all the more worrying, but that is how Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson spoke after today’s 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford against one the club’s old enemies. Dimitar Berbatov’s hat-trick meant Steven Gerrard’s brace counted for nothing, although it at least kept the club’s goal-difference at ‘just’ -3 from the opening five games.

Hodgson said: “We are certainly in a transitional period. I don’t think it needs to be negative; sometimes they can be very good for a club. Certainly the task has been complicated by the fact I didn’t get a chance to work with the players because of the World Cup and with the Europa qualifiers starting so early, we were thrown into the deep end of competitive football.”

He also spoke of what was to come, what the targets were: “Our aim is to get better. Our aim is still to try and get to the Champions League, maybe that’s where I need to have my focus. If we are good enough to get into the top four, who knows, maybe we can get closer to the number one position. I won’t say we can’t do it, nor will I say we can do it.”

In reality nobody expects a title challenge from Liverpool this season. This season there is an air that survival is the target. Not league survival, but survival as a team that might one day be able to challenge for the title again. Survival in the sense of not letting the gap between this club and Chelsea grow any wider than it already is. Hodgson will be well aware of this.
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Wolves v Liverpool: Gerrard back, Maxi starts

Two changes for Liverpool for tonight’s clash with Wolves at Molyneux including a debut for Maxi Rodriguez and a return to the starting line-up for the skipper, Steven Gerrard.

Manager Rafa Benitez has stuck with the same back-four that kept Spurs at bay just under a week ago meaning Jamie Carragher continues at right-back, with Skrtel and Kyrgiakos deservedly keeping their places in the centre of defence.

Mascherano and Lucas start again in midfield meaning that rather than dropping back Aquilani drops to the bench, making way for Gerrard. Maxi takes the place of Degen on the right with Albert Riera on the left again and Dirk Kuyt playing up front.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has made six changes to his side, but not in the way he did against Manchester United when he made changes that weakened his side having decided his first choice eleven would probably lose anyway. Tonight he’s strengthened having played his weaker side in the FA Cup at the weekend. He includes new signings Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Adlene Guedioura in his squad, both are named as subs tonight.

Wolves: Hahnemann, Zubar, Berra, Craddock, Ward, Mancienne, Henry, Milijaš, Foley, Doyle, Jarvis.
Subs: Hennessey, Stearman, Jones, Vokes, Iwelumo, Mujangi, Guedioura.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Insua, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Riera, Maxi, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Babel, Ngog, Degen, Darby, Pacheco.

Referee: Peter Walton

Result: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Result: Premier League

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

It was a case of ‘what might have been’ today for Liverpool as they went down 2-0 to Chelsea in a game that neither side particularly deserved to win. That said, Chelsea took their chances, Liverpool missed what few chances they made.

Nicolas Anelka got the opener for Chelsea – a player who spent six months on loan at Anfield before inexplicably being let go by Gerard Houllier in place of El Hadji-Diouf.

The second came from Florent Malouda, nearly signed by Rafa Benitez before Chelsea made the most of the snail’s pace in the Anfield boardroom at the time, a pace that played such a part in Rafa’s anger at the hierarchy at the beginning of the storm that still goes on between the owners and the fans. Whether it still goes on between the owners and the manager is a point that might be under scrutiny again tonight.

Blame will be thrown around now, and plenty of those on the pitch should be able to find fault with their own performances, but this isn’t the time to fight with each other, it’s the time to make sure everyone is working together, working for the same side. Unfortunately it’s also time for another international break, meaning few of the squad will be together at all in next couple of weeks.

Chelsea: 40 Hilario, 2 Ivanovic, 3 A Cole, 6 Carvalho, 26 Terry, 5 Essien, 8 Lampard, 13 Ballack, 20 Deco (15 Malouda, 76), 11 Drogba, 39 Anelka
Subs: 22 Turnbull, 35 Belletti, 10 J Cole, 15 Malouda, 18 Zhirkov, 21 Kalou, 23 Sturridge
Booked: Essien
Goals: Anelka 60, Malouda 90+1

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 Johnson, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 22 Insua (12 Aurelio, 83), 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas (19 Babel, 76), 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera (15 Benayoun, 67), 9 Torres
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 12 Aurelio, 16 Kyrgiakos, 15 Benayoun, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog
Booked: Gerrard

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: David Richardson, Phil Sharp
Fourth official: Steve Bennett

Attendance: 41732

Match Stats: (Chelsea – Liverpool)
Possession: 48% – 52%
Shots on target: 8 – 3
Shots off target: 4 – 9
Corners: 5 – 8
Fouls: 14 – 17

West Ham v Liverpool: Mascherano back

Rafa Benitez wasn’t really likely to pick the same team three games in succession, and Albert Riera has made way for Javier Mascherano for today’s visit to West Ham.

This means Gerrard will to return to his now more accustomed attacking role behind Torres with Benayoun and Kuyt taking up the wider positions, the central midfield duties being shared between Mascherano and Lucas.

Emiliano Insua retains his place at left-back in an unchanged back four also featuring Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson.

The bench features four players signed as defenders: Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Degen and Dossena.

West Ham: 1 Green, 15 Upson, 23 Ilunga, 30 Tomkins, 8 Parker, 16 Noble, 20 Faubert, 21 Behrami, 12 Cole, 32 Alessandro Diamanti, 41 Hines
Subs: 28 Kurucz, 04 Gabbidon, 18 Spector, 07 Dyer, 14 Kovac, 35 Payne, 24 Nouble

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 2 Johnson, 22 Insua, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 8 Gerrard, 15 Benayoun, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 9 Torres, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 12 Aurelio, 16 Kyrgiakos, 27 Degen, 38 Dossena, 11 Riera, 19 Babel

Referee: Andre Marriner