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Match Preview: Liverpool v. Blackburn, 10.24.10

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It's time for the love-fest to reach its apex for Hodgson and Allardyce.

Which is probably an unholier image than any photoshoppery that Noel could conjure. And yes, I avoided using the word "climax."

Let's move on to greener pastures, though---NESV will be in town for the match (sans an ill John Henry), and with a win tomorrow, Liverpool could draw level on points with not only their opposition, but Fulham as well. There's some sort of delicious irony in that, but at the current moment it's a little too heartbreaking to fully capture the novelty.

There's probably little point in table-watching at this point (see aforementioned heartbreak), but it's unavoidable when 17 of the other 19 teams are in front of Liverpool. This includes Sam Allardyce and company, and, for the first time in awhile, they'll visit Anfield with the upper hand---at least in the table. And for as much as Allardyce flaps his gums, I find myself more than a little nervous about how tomorrow could play out.

It's not as though they're lighting the Premier League on fire---they've got two wins from their first eight, one coming on the opening day against Everton and the other coming in injury time at Blackpool. Of the three matches they've lost, though, none have been by more than a goal, and they earned a draw away to City back in the beginning of September. It's a been a bit of a rebirth for Paul Robinson in goal, as he's not conceded more than two thus far. Only three points ahead of Liverpool in the table, but there's a five goal separation in goal differential.

Inidividually Blackburn don't pose many problems, but they're sturdy enough collectively that they'll no doubt pose plenty of problems. Their top goal-scorer in league, Nikola Kalanic, only has two goals, but both have come in critical matches---one was the winner against Everton, and the other shared the points at City. A host of others are on one goal apiece, and for a club that's made their identity through stingy defense and physical play, that's no surprise.

For Liverpool...

1. Who will start for Liverpool?
2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?
3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

Blow me away with your incisive commentary below. Just support your club, okay?

1. Who will start for Liverpool?

Reina
Carragher Kyrgiakos Skrtel Aurelio
Lucas Meireles
Maxi Gerrard Cole
Torres

---Aside from Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger, this is Liverpool at full strength. Not a bad squad. Certainly not a squad deserving of the 18th spot in league. Would be nice to see this squad unshackled, wouldn't it?

---Maybe the only real guess here is Fabio Aurelio, who's wormed his way back to full fitness (or something close) and could feature in front of Paul Konchesky. Apparently it's "not looking good" for Glen Johnson, which means Martin kelly probably slides in at right back. And while the physical nature of Blackburn's approach might lend itself to an appearance for a Greek of formidable physical composition, I'd guess it's Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel in the middle. I wrote that stuff before I finished reading Hodgson's comments on the situation---he feels it "wouldn't be fair" to include Kelly at the expense of Skrtel or Kyrgiakos. It makes for a formidable central defensive pairing, but it also makes for another "what the f*ck are you thinking" moment from Roy Hodgson. Shame on you and your age, Martin Kelly.

---Christian Poulsen on Thursday makes me hope for no Christian Poulsen tomorrow. Lucas, Steven Gerrard, and Raul Meireles were all left back, so fitness issues aside, I can't think of any reason that they wouldn't start in some sort of central midfield cluster. Any reason not named "Roy Hodgson" at least. Maybe an off-chance that Meireles goes wide right with Joe Cole in the hole and Milan Jovanovic on the left, but the midfield three of Maxi-Gerrard-Cole is probably the strongest.

---Yes, Fernando Torres up top by himself. Just give him some service one time for f*ck's sake.

2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?

I think there's a very good chance that Liverpool could get bullied out of the stadium tomorrow. Blackburn aren't necessarily known for their front-footed approach, but they're physical and can out-muscle (read: out-thug) anyone in the league. With the passive, impish tactics that Hodgson's so fond of, Liverpool could find themselves getting slugged around pretty good, not only statistically but physically.

So, I guess I'm saying it's important for Liverpool to turn a deaf ear to the pre-match team talk and actually play football.

3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

1-0 Liverpool. I don't know what's wrong with me; my fingers just sort of took over there. Torres to score. I resent myself so much for doing this to...myself.

As of writing there's no indications that this one's televised anywhere on planet Earth. That may or may not be a hyperbolic way of saying it's not on FSC, FSC+, or any ESPN in the States. No doubt streams will be available in the run-up, and they'll work their way into the matchday thread that'll go up an hour before kickoff tomorrow.

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone.