Reebok Stadium, Greater Manchester
October 31st, 2010, 9:25 PM IST (+0400 BST)
Liverpool travel to the Reebok Stadium on Sunday to take on an evolving Bolton Wanderers. Bolton, currently 9th in the League, are unbeaten at home this season. They have played 6 draws, suffered 2 losses and and earned a solitary win this season. On the other hand, Liverpool, who sit on the 18th pedestal in the league, beat a lackluster Blackburn last Sunday at Anfield. Liverpool’s record against Bolton has been rather impressive, as they have registered wins in the previous seven encounters against Bolton.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Johan Elmander is in terrific form for Bolton. He has found the net five times this season, although all of them have been scored away from home. Bolton would play deep making it difficult for Liverpool to break them down. Kevin Davies would play the customary role of target man, buying time for Holden, Lee and Petrov to counter attack. Gardener, Samuel and Davis would miss the fixture due to injuries.
While statistics may not manifest the improved performance of the Lancashire Club, they have shown a marked progress under Owen Coyle. The current manager’s brand of football is sharply contrasting from the physical game that Bolton exhibited under Sam Allardyce. Coyle likes the ball to be kept on the floor and be played through the midfield rather than over the top. Bolton, under Coyle, invite the opposition and like to hit on the counter. Petrov, Muamba, Holden and Lee hold key to this strategy while playing long to Davies is always an option for the defense to consider.
Probable Line Up – Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Muamba, Lee, Holden, Petrov, Davies, Elmander.
Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt are set to miss the fixture due to the injuries suffered on international duty, while Glen Johnson is racing against time to be fit for the match. Liverpool are expected to line-up with the same set of 11, as they did against Blackburn. The midfield partnership of Lucas and Meireles looked solid, the one around which Roy Hodgson would like to build his team. Kyrgiakos was a constant aerial threat, and would like to repeat a similar performance against Bolton. However, the Greek defender would be tested against Kevin Davies, who is largely unbeatable in the air.
Roy Hogson continues to face the heat due to the poor start his team has made this season. The victory against Blackburn certainly helped alleviate some pressure off the Liverpool manager, but he might struggle to keep his job, if Liverpool fail to beat Bolton at the Reebok. Roy Hogdson, on insistence from Sammy Lee and the players, altered his tactics against Blackburn. Liverpool attacked Blackburn rather than waiting to be run down by the opposition. The players pressed forward and applied pressure on the Blackburn defense which eventually paid off, as Liverpool scored two goals and were denied by Robinson on more than a couple of occasions.
Roy Hodgson’s last away victory was on the opening day of last season, against Portsmouth. It would be interesting to see whether Hodgson chooses to attack Bolton or retracts back to his defensive approach, living up to his reputation when playing away from home. If Hodgson chooses not to attack, it would help the fans evaluate his long-term approach towards the game and whether or not he is the right man to maneuver the ship.
Probable Lineup – Reina, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Gerrard, Cole, Torres
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s go-to guy!
The Liverpool captain has scored seven times against Bolton and would play an instrumental role if Liverpool has to produce a win at the Reebok stadium. If Liverpool do not concede early, Gerrard would have the freedom to roam in the opponents half, thus likely to score and create for Fernando Torres.
Bolton 0-2 Liverpool
Bolton’s off the ball movement would suit Liverpool. If the Reds are able to score in the first half, the match would open up. The challenge for Liverpool would be to maintain a clean sheet, which if they successfully achieve, would help the forwards to break down the Bolton defense.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST