October 3rd, 2010, 7:25 PM IST (+0430 BST)
Liverpool and Blackpool have not met each other in any competition since 1971. Sunday’s encounter would be a test of character for the Liverpool players in their resolve to bounce back while Blackpool would be ever inspired to make a mark in front of the Kop with the credit of two valuable away wins to their name this season. With their worst ever start to a Premier League season, the reds stand 18th in the table with only six points in the bag and a goal difference of minus three. Blackpool, on the other hand, enjoy a one-point lead over Liverpool as they sit on the 16th position having scored more number of goals than the Mersyside club in the present season.
To say that Liverpool have underperformed, would be an understatement. With the off-field drama over the ownership of the club adding to the insulting performance over the pitch, Roy Hodgson has been anything but spectacular in steering down the club to its champions’ league ambitions. In a sense, this is a must win game for the club, going into an international break. A win against Blackpool would move the reds to a potential 10th place while a draw or a loss would only help themselves in the gallows of relegation. After thumping Wigan away from home, Blackpool would be anything but respectful in treating there opponents. They would target hitting Liverpool early in the game and if successful, will sit back to defend their lead.
Although the team has not combined well till this point, Roy Hodgson has been very patient with the lads. It seems that the first and foremost priority on the manager is to find his starting XI – a bunch of players that he would like to start with, each and every game in the league. From what seemed to be a 4-4-2 in the beginning, Liverpool have recently assembled more like a 4-2-2-2. Gerrard has moved back to the midfield, playing a rather neutral role along with Poulsen. Cole and Mereiles have been used as the attacking midfielders behind Torres and Kuyt upfront.
However, the major issue for the reds lies in defense where Liverpool are already short of a recognized left back to start against Blackpool. Paul Konchesky is struggling with a hamstring injury, while Daniel Agger is troubled by a groin injury and Fabio Aurelio is not ready to return after an achilles problem. This leaves Roy Hogdson with no other option but to play Martin Kelly who is still recovering from a knee injury picked up at at Utrecht, or to play 17-year-old Jack Robinson.
Blackpool have had a respectable opening into the 1st division, beating Wigan and Newcastle away from home. Discounting the defeat against the defending champions Chelsea, they have been largely impressive and more than capable of producing an upset at Anfield if the likes of Torres and Joe Cole do not choose to come out of hibernation.
Probable Starting Line-ups
TheHardTackle’s Player To Watch Out For
Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
The Spaniard has been off the mark lately, but a moment of brilliance could turn out to be the difference between an inspired Blackpool and a lackluster Liverpool side. He was involved in both the goals against Sunderland and is most likely to score in front of the Kop.
Time to wake up?
Liverpool 2-0 Blackpool
If Blackpool are able to score early, the match would most likely go down to the wire. However, if Liverpool score early, they should easily score two against an open Blackpool midfield.