Saturday, September 01, 2007

Preview: LiverpooL vs Derby County

A midweek Champions League masterclass versus Toulouse saw Liverpool progress to the group stages on a 5-0 aggregate scoreline. With Crouch opening the scoring in 19th minute and Hyypia doubling it up on the 49th, it was left to Kuyt to add the finishing touches with a quick brace just before the final whistle: nice stuff from a squad that have shown their quality in depth so early in the season.

Rafa must be well pleased that his striking options are getting off the mark with each week that passes, plus his defence have kept 3 out of 5 clean sheets, although it really should be 4 as the Chelsea penalty was a big mistake.

Pity that Carragher got injured against Sunderland as he is so integral to the back-line, but having said that they managed well enough against Toulouse. Another key player out is Steven Gerrard with a niggling hairline fracture. Again, Liverpool have not dropped the pace in his absence and indeed there is a case to be made for him not automatically getting back into the squad when fully recovered. The saying goes “If it ain't broke, don't mend it"...I wonder if Rafa is familiar with it? Probably not, and anyway, he's too busy stroking his lovely goatee, and modeling himself on The Rock's character in the movie 'Be Cool’: Eliot Wilhem.... Rafa can do the eyebrow raise!.. oh yes.

With Derby stuttering to their EPL start the Anfield faithful will be expecting nothing other than 3 points and a clean sheet. And why not? Liverpool have been moving the ball around very well, very confidently, and the added creativity that Rafa sourced with the likes of Babel, Torres and Voronin, has shown its worth already.

Competition for starting places is toughening up and the frontline are all worth a start, while midfield and defence cannot be guaranteed either. All of which makes for a brilliant time to be a Liverpool supporter and, for once, to genuinely consider the EPL title heading to Anfield's already bulging silverware cabinet. The Rafa-revolution is upon us!

Billy's Getting Rammed

Losing to Blackpool (14th,The Championship) 6-7 on penalties, midweek in the Carling Cup've got to be struggling to write the Saturday pep talk? Surely?

If it wasn't bad enough to be sitting bottom after 4 games and only taking 1 point from 12, then walking off the pitch the other night and knowing you're going to be traveling to Anfield to face a seriously in-form Liverpool squad...well, that pretty much pushes it over the edge into NIGHTMARE territory. Walls crawling with snakes, spiders from Mars, and a never-ending loop of the Spurs game.

There is always speculation in the paper about Derby's coming and goings of late, and this week has been no different. Is Earnshaw off to Charlton? Is David Nugent moving from Portsmouth to join them? Are Celtic considering allowing a move for Miller? Busy days, busy nights. As yet nothing has been confirmed but it certainly leaves you with the impression that this is one unsettled club.

Derby are simply lack the quality to cope with the Premiership just now. More new signings may yet help them, but it's not looking good. Young talent such as Giles Barnes won't be allowed to stay if the right cash comes in because it would be madness to assume that he alone will decide their fate... so of course the board will take the cash - if it's full of the right amount of decimal points, that is.

Tottenham really went to town early doors against them, but they did show battling qualities vs Manchester City and Pompey, so it's not a complete loss, more a case of getting a break to give them a boost and a breather from all this relegation talk ...and all before the first month is over!


Aug 28th vs Toulouse (H) WON 4-0 (UEFA CL)
Aug 25th vs Sunderland (A) WON 2-0 (PREM)
Aug 19th vs Chelsea (H) DREW 1-1 (PREM)
Aug 15th vs Toulouse (A) WON 1-0 (UEFA CL)
Aug 11th vs Aston Villa (A) Won 2-1 (PREM)

Aug 28th vs Blackpool (H) DREW 1-1 (CARLING CUP , lost 6-7 pens)
Aug 25th vs Birmingham City (H) LOST 2-1 (Prem)
Aug 18th vs Tottenham (A) LOST 4-0 (PREM)
Aug 15th vs Man City (A) LOST 1-0 (PREM)
Aug 11th vs Portsmouth (H) DREW 2-2 (PREM)


Liverpool: Steven Gerrard is doubtful as Benitez doesn't want to rush him back. Jamie Carragher suffered a broken rib and collapsed lung against Sunderland, and don't have a return date yet. Aurelio is still sidelined with an Achilles injury.

Squad from : Reina, Finnan, Agger, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Riise, Pennant, Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard, Benayoun, Sissoko, Voronin, Crouch, Kuyt, Torres, Babel, Itandje

Derby: Mears (D) and Barnes (M) are still on the injured list but are expected back in September. At the time of writing there was no further injury news.

Squad from: Bywater, Edworthy, Todd, Moore, Camara, Fagan, Oakley, Jones, Pearson, Howard, Earnshaw, Price, Leacock, McEveley, Griffin, Lewis, Feilhaber


Liverpool: Fernando Torres has a great opportunity against Derby to really show everyone what he can do. In La Liga he had the pacy wingers to feed him in and Liverpool can do the same if the team selection is suited to his style. He has the pace to arrive late, and also to drift out to pick up the ball. Feed him good crosses and give him space to run into and he's your man. Derby are definitely vulnerable to a team with width and pace and players willing to run straight at them, but more importantly a deliverer of a great ball will be their undoing. This could be the Torres Show if it all goes to plan.

Derby: Matt Oakley has scored twice so far, and players and fans alike must be so grateful for that as their strikers appear to be AWOL come Saturday afternoon. He made his Premier League debut back in 1995 vs Liverpool so there are happy memories for him along the way. Oakley is a creative player and Derby will need his vision and experience to avoid an onslaught.


It's almost impossible to find a form line that could be held up to scrutiny in favour of Derby taking even a point from this game, so I'll opt for the obvious and genuinely most likely outcome - Liverpool to win, and keep a clean sheet.

Liverpool 3 - 0 Derby