Playing the bitters at Goodison park is always a tricky fixture at any stage of the season. We are winless in 3 premiership games against them and the job will not be made any easier even with the departure of their technically gifted Spaniard, Arteta, to Arsenal. Here is how I would chose to line up The Reds on Saturday if I was King Kenny for a day:
Kelly Carragher Skrtel Enrique
—–Kuyt Gerrard Downing—–
Benefits of this formation:
A lot of the players are used to playing in it under Rafa’s regime (Reina, Carra, Skrtel, Lucas, Kuyt, Gerrard) and will know what is required of them in each position.
It provides the right balance of defensive solidity and attacking verve provided that we get numbers into the box when attacking. With Lucas providing cover for the defence it gives the fullbacks license to roam forward when required.
Fluidity: given the versatility of the four players in the front, they have all the attributes to switch positions and run rings around the Everton back four. The system can easily change shape without affecting the balance of the side.
Pace and intelligence upfront. With Gerrard back in contention we now have a more creative force in the midfield. This combined with the pace of Downing and Suarez, and the intelligent movement of Kuyt could all come together to a devastating effect.
Drawbacks of this tactic:
At times when this formation was used under Rafa, Fernando T****s would be found isolated upfront leading to his frustration at a lack of service. This formation requires a lot of movement from the players off the ball and we cannot afford any passengers on the pitch in order to make it work effectively.
If Everton decide to pack the midfield then the middle area will be highly congested and it will be difficult to move the ball smoothly especially against scrappy opponents the likes of Everton.
Lack of height at set piece plays. Looking at the players picked, defending aerially from the likes of Cahill and Fellaini will be extremely difficult. It would be more assuring if Andy Carroll and Seb Coates were in the line up to nullify such threats, but we have already worn out the discussion of Carroll’s abilities upfront and it would be difficult to throw in Coates for his premiership debut against a bitter rival (remember Evra’s debut in the Manchester derby).
Every player will need to keep their heads in the hostile atmosphere of Goodison. The Merseyside derby is the most red-carded fixture in Premier league history. Luis Suarez is well know for his short fuse and will need to watch his temper when he gets kicked around (and we all know he will).
Charlie Adam’s tackling is dodgy to say the least and he will need to be extra careful when going in for tackles. Lucas is also guilty of giving away niggly fouls close to box and will have to be careful. Steven Gerrard and Jaimie Carragher (both guilty of reckless tackles in this fixture in the past) will be very important in terms of pumping the team up for the game as well as calming the inevitable tempers that will flare up.
All in all I think with this formation and the players selected for it we have an excellent chance of really whipping the lights out of Everton. The players left on the bench (Bellamy, Coates, Carroll, Spearing, Henderson) have been good enough (some more than others) to start for Liverpool this season so should provide solid cover for tiring legs or untimely injuries in the second half.
I’ll end this with the legendary Bill Shankly’s quote, today being the 30th anniversary of his death:
‘If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I’d pull the curtains.’
What do you think? Agree/disagree with the picks or formation?