After Monday’s sobering defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage, Liverpool have, what many fans would consider to be, a golden opportunity to make up some lost ground in the race for the coveted fourth Premiership place to guarantee Champions League football next season.
The result agaiunst Fulham has been quitet damaging to Liverpool’s campaign, and if the result doesn’t go their way against QPR, then I believe it’s all over for Liverpool for the fourth spot. Realistically this was already a tall order for the Reds anyway and much of the expectation has come about more through emotion rather than logic. The BBC’s Jonathan Pearce enthused a few weeks ago that “Liverpool look every inch a top four side”. Well I’m not sure which Liverpool he was talking about but it’s not the one based at Anfield.
Personally, I expect a win today for Liverpool (as any self respecting FM 2012 manager says when playing the underdog!). The home form has been poor and many would expect the Reds to struggle. However, considering their away form is amongst the best in the league, they still lost on Monday so go figure! Liverpool are certainly the better team and this would be the perfect chance to start a good solid run of home performances.
In terms of personnel for today, I think the existing back four that has proved so resilient thus far since the absence of Jamie Carragher will resume. So, Jose Enrique, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson in front of Jose Reina. The latter of whom, Reina, has been showing signs of inconsistency in the last few games. Arguably the weak link for Fulham’s goal on Monday after spilling the tame cross from ex-Red Danny Murphy of all people. Expect a performance from Reina today – again some FM 2012 creeping in!
The midfield is obviously the big area of concern. Lucas is now out for the rest of the season, prompting Kenny Dalglish to recall Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Blackpool to cover for Jay Spearing. This cover may well now be required after Spearing’s unfortunate sending off against Fulham. However, I feel Dalglish may prefer Jordan Henderson to partner Charlie Adam in midfield. The width will likely be provided by Stewart Downing and by, possibly the signing of the season so far, Craig Bellamy who has shone during his return to Liverpool.
Up front, well the only near certainty is that Luis Suarez will start up front. I would prefer him to be partnered by Dirk Kuyt because Neil Warnock’s QPR side will be no pushover that’s for sure and they’ll press the Reds hard. Suarez will need a partner as hard working as himself alongside him. Andy Carroll, despite missing a penalty against Fulham actually showed signs that he’s improving. I thought he looked easily a yard quicker and much sharper than he has done in recent weeks so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start.
If Liverpool play the way we all know they can, then there should be nothing down for QPR this afternoon and a two or three goal margin should by no means be beyond them. Luis Suarez needs to concentrate on his football and stop cpmplaining to the referee when things don’t go his way. He’s still a quality player and a goal or two today will do him the world of good because he’s been showing signs of frustration in the last few matches.
So, a prediction? Well I don’t do predictions, only to say 3-1 to the Reds!
By Ben Green
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