Exclusive TOMM offer – one for the price of two! Recycled comments from my last preview 12 days ago won’t save the planet, although they may save you the trouble of reading any further, but Liverpool remain as vulnerable as we will ever find them, and in the race for fourth we must ruthlessly exploit any weakness. Their difficulties have been compounded by the absence of Gerrard, Torres and Benayoun, but they will be pleased that they do not have to face King, Woodgate and Lennon.
After my one and only comparison of the relative merits of Jenas and Huddlestone, one of my most loyal readers was moved to cause harm at the sight of yet another piece on this well-worn topic. I can’t remember if it was to the author or to himself; perhaps I should think hard as it is a significant difference. Hud is likely to be absent tonight and JJ’s welcome energy and drive feels right for this tough away game. But this is what I always feel if he’s not been around for a while. I look forward to his contribution, this is what we need to up the tempo and cover every blade, then I start to long for Hud’s passing range and JJ doesn’t slot the final ball in or there’s space at the back…Truth is, I rate both players but they bring different strengths to the team. Neither are as consistent as they might be, although in this respect Hud is gradually learning, Saturday’s poor display notwithstanding, whereas JJ has had more time and may have reached his peak. He will be desperate to make his mark tonight in order to stake a claim for a starting spot so he may do well.
Up front Harry must start with Defoe and Crouch because of Keane’s woeful form, although the spindly one must not lose touch with his team-mates by drifting too far upfield. Modric and Krancjar will have more space than on Saturday and so must use it to keep the ball and keep it moving. There will be room, especially if we can manoeuvre past their two central defensive midfielders, and they are the key to our hopes of success. We will also find out if Bale’s defensive abilities have come on as well as his confidence and attacking prowess. He won’t have a winger up against him but will have to combat movement and interplay, probably for him a more difficult task. Stay close to Bassong, my friend, and hope that Niko drops back regularly.
Be bold without being reckless and we will do well. Six games and we haven’t conceded, that counts for something. Liverpool remain a decent team and hard to beat at home but with our good defensive record plus players who can take the game to them, we will never have a better chance. And now I am repeating myself.
Nothing hard and fast in the window. Harry is still looking at both the player and the price, and a bargain to strengthen the squad will put a gleam in his beady twitchy eye. The pursuit of a centre half is serious, with continuing medium and long-term doubts about King and Woodgate. I know nothing about Kjaer but I would rather we spent big money now if he is as good as people say he is, as opposed to buying short-term experience. However, if a CL club is in then we stand little chance. With the West Ham takeover, I can’t see Upson being available and Richards won’t leave City now, so Kaboul is the only realistic alternative. Up front, our interest in RVN is genuine, but so is our reluctance to pay his massive salary.