January 1st, 2011, 8:25 PM IST (+0300 BST)
Let’s admit it, men at Liverpool have not lived up to the famous Red shirt and neither has Roy Hodgson helped them play better football. On the same day, couple of years back, Liverpool were at the top of the Premier League and as a matter of fact eight out of the eleven men that thumped Real Madrid 4-0 at that time, participated in the humiliating defeat against Wolves on Wednesday. The internet is buzzing with Liverpool fans calling for Hodgson to be sacked, before he is able to manage the next Liverpool match, which happens to be against Bolton. There are polls, petitions, open letters, all enumerating Hodgson’s tactical weaknesses, his over reluctance to change his methods, and his reputation of speaking the wrong words at the right times. If Liverpool do not win against the Wanderers on Saturday, Hodgson might just have to start the new year on a lower note, having been fired as the Liverpool manager!
Team News and Tactical Brief
As far as injuries are concerned, Liverpool are lucky not to have any major injury headaches with the exception of Carragher. Tactically, Hodgson made a mess with the lineup against Wolves when he employed Merieles on the right wing, bringing Gerrard back to the center of the pitch. Lucas and Merieles have formed a stable partnership in the central midfiled due to their complementing nature of play and tinkering that was a grave mistake. If Liverpool have to win this fixture, Hodgson would have to shed his obsession with 4-4-2, play Gerrard behind Torres and prepare his generals to launch a full throttle attack on the opposition when they take the field on the New Years day. The three points could just be the most important ones in the recent history of the club, which if not won, would send them to the oblivion of relegation.
Probable Line-up: Reina, Johnson, Skertel, Agger, Aurelio, Meireles, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard, Maxi, Torres.
Bolton would walk into this match without any sort of pressure. They have this opportunity to hit Liverpool hard under the belt and corner them towards the bottom of the table, perhaps Owen Coyle might just be eager to show the Liverpool owners, what he is capable of! Realistically, Coyle would miss a lot of his players at Anfield and that could just deter their New year ambitions. Paul Robinson, Stuart Holden, Lee Chung-yong and Tamir Cohen would be absent due to injuries and suspensions.
Probable Line-up: Jaaskelinen, Cahill,Knight,Alonso,Ricketts, Muamba, Taylor, Elmander, M Davies, Moreno, K Davies.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Can Gerrard come to Hodgson’s rescue?
He is the man who has driven Liverpool FC out of adversities, time and again. Liverpool needs a leader at this point who could row them out of this storm and if Gerrard can’t do it, no one possibly can . Liverpool FC needs it captain, more than ever. A 30 yard screamer would not be a bad idea to start the new decade with!
Liverpool 1-0 Bolton