It’s easy to be kind about Liverpool, whilst hardly clean of soul they aren’t a monolith like united nor a richer than thou plaything like Chelsea or City. In a lot of ways they’re just like the rest of us only a rung or six further up the ladder and more successful with it. Not convinced? check out their tight budgets, obvious weaknesses and over reliance on relatively few top notch players.
Ok, so the financial restraints mean frustration over not signing David Villa rather than being outbid for one of Villa’s reserves and top notch in their case means world rather than Premier League class but that doesn’t detract from the point that out of supposed ‘big’ four or five they’re the one that looks most like a football club, for the time being at least.
Does any of that help Latics any as they head into a crucial stage of the season? Probably not, because as Liverpool ponder over how much involvement Torres, Johnson and Aquillani will have we are sweating on the fitness of N’Zogbia and Scharner. With kindest of winds only one of those would get anywhere near a Liverpool squad (and no Paul, it’s not you).
But there is hope, Pompey took points off Liverpool earlier in the season and we managed a good shift down the M58. Rafa’s kind words about being wary of teams involved in a scrap might just be him playing nice for the press, but more telling are his comments about our style of play.
He reckons that Bobby is doing things the right way, but then again he would because there is a great deal of similarity in the way the two managers set their teams out. Where as Spurs came at us with a 4-4-2 and the intention to prove they could be more “robust” on the DW mud patch, chances are that Liverpool will have three in the middle of the park, wide men and one up top.
More importantly they’ll be hoping that the new pitch is up to scratch so that they can play it round us, or through us, or both.
To some extent that plays into our hands, we’ve looked better when teams have played us like that and you can expect Latics to get plenty of possession to build confidence with, the test will be what they can do with it and how they handle the equally significant periods where Liverpool have the ball.
After the away fixture, NRP compared the slow build up of Latics with the home team’s ability to switch pace efficiently and incisively. That was what made the difference on the night, well that and our defence’s unairing ability to concede soft goals, oh and our attack’s ability to not make the most of what they get.
Recent weeks suggest that we won’t get more of the same tonight, but who knows? Latics still have the aura of unpredictability about them as we’ve shown, at least in part, against Stoke, Everton and Birmingham recently. If we can pull some of that together across 90 minutes and get a bit of luck, a goal off Jason Scotland’s backside with a side order of red card and penalty then perhaps we can start Tuesday with a wry grin.
Yeah, I know, who am I trying to kid, right?
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