Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
29th Aug 2009
Kick Off : 15:00
Ground : Reebok Stadium
Well our 31 match unbeaten home league record stretching back to December 2007 – the longest in the Premier League finally came to an end Monday night, a match the Guardian’s Andy Hunter described “Rafael Benitez had called on Liverpool to revisit their history and turn Anfield into a fortress. Instead, they lowered the draw-bridge and invited Aston Villa inside to lay their proud unbeaten record to waste. The expectations upon Benitez’s team appear to be weighing heavily.”
Monday night saw Liverpool gain 67% of the overall possession compared to Villa’s 33%, Liverpool had 11 shots on target compared to Villa’s 4, Liverpool also had 11 shots off target compared to Villa’s 1, but its the scoreline which will be remembered…..
Monday night also saw Dirk Kuyt feature in his 150th game for the Reds. Since signing from Feyenoord for a fee of about £10million in the Summer of 2006, Benitez has moulded Kuyt into an indispensable right winger and the Dutchman has become one of the first names on Rafa Benitez’s teamsheet ever since. In Rafa’s own words “You could call him Mr Duracell, because of the way he plays, always running and always on the go….”
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Before arriving at Anfield, Dirk Kuyt was the Dutch league’s top goalscorer on two occasions and Feyenoord’s for three consecutive seasons. He was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2005-06 and left for Liverpool with a record of 83 goals in 122 appearances..
Kuyt’s technical ability and contribution to the team have been overlooked greatly during his time at Liverpool especially last season from where he scored 15 times, 12 of which were scored in the Premiership to help Liverpool take champions Manchester United right to the wire. Only five players (Anelka 19 goals, Ronaldo 18, Gerrard 16, Robinho and Torres 14) scored more goals in the Premiership than Dirk Kuyt last season… Kuyt’s creative talents and defensive running are as valued as the vital goals he has scored in recent years.
Martin Samuel on the Daily Mail recently spoke of Kuyt “His work ethic, unselfishness and ability to operate in a netherworld between the touchline, forward line and midfield make him the epitome of the modern attacker. He knows what his manager wants and he delivers it without ego or introspection.”
How Dirk Kuyt Reached his 150th Liverpool Appearance….
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In next weeks Redkopi article I will be focusing on Liverpool’s left side of Midfield, an area which in my opinion needed to have been strengthened during the Summer…. Just like last season, this season is a massive year for Ryan Babel, Babel isn’t 17 or 18 anymore he’s 22, he’s at an age when he has to start producing the goods consistently from the start of matches…. He joined the Reds in July 2007 in a deal worth more than £10million, he has the speed and pace – everything he needs to develop his game. Apparently when he first joined he had the pedigree to be the new Thierry Henry, sadly we are still waiting…..
Just last month Kop Legend John Barnes spoke highly of Ryan Babel…. “Ryan is a fantastic player,” Barnes told Liverpoolfc.tv, “What we need to do is find how to get the best out of him because getting the right environment which suits the players is the most important thing. He is a great player and if we can find the right blend and formation for him to show us what he can do I believe he can be one of the best players in the Premier League.”
Where do you think is Babel’s best position, let us know in the poll below….
Redkopi Poll #1
Turning our attentions to Saturday afternoon which see’s the Reds travel to the Reebok stadium – the stadium which was the scene of Benitez’ first defeat as Liverpool manager on 29 August 2004.
The Trotters had a steady pre-season, with the first team recording draws against Borussia Monchengladbach, FC Eindhoven, Hearts and Hibernian, while beating Dutch side Den Bosch.
However, Bolton go into Saturdays game against Liverpool on the back of two poor Premier League defeats. Wanderers suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Sunderland on the opening day of the season.
Last Saturday saw Gary Megson left to rue his team’s inability to put away the many chances they created at the KC Stadium as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Hull. Bolton had been in control, creating a series of chances but they failed to break the deadlock despite enjoying more than 60 per cent of the possession.
Wednesday night saw Bolton progress into the third round of the Carling Cup beating Tranmere Rovers 1-0 thanks to a strike from Mark Davies just before half-time.
Bolton Wanderers Team Prediction
It will another 4-1-4-1 formation, Bolton will set up counter-attacking as well as containment with Fabrice Muamba dictating shielding operations from midfield and launching breaks.
In goal will be the trusted shot stopper Jussi Jaaskelainen, right back will be Sam Ricketts while left back will be either Paul Robinson or Jlloyd Samuel – a player who excelled for Bolton last season. At the heart of defence should be Zat Knight and the inspirational Gary Cahill.
In midfield should see Fabrice Muamba who will be vital for Bolton and will be seen as the player who can break up play, i’d expect Muamba to play just infront of the central defence and will be the defensive midfielder controlling Gerrard and Lucas’ forward runs.
Just ahead of Muamba in central midfield should be Mark Davies and Sean Davis. On the left wing should be Matt Taylor who will also be a big threat down that side of the field. I’m also expecting Kevin Davies to drop back into the midfield occupying the right wing.
Gary Megson will definitely be without Ricardo Gardner, who will be sidelined for up to three weeks with a hamstring problem.
Upfront will be Johan Elmander, a forward without a League goal since last December… The main emphasis on Benitez’s tactics will be controlling Elmander but Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies will be the real dangers.
My Bolton Prediction
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will have new signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos ready for Saturday afternoon should Rafa decide to rest Martin Skrtel. Kyrgiakos would fit in perfectly alongside Carragher dealing with Boltons physical and arial threat… On signing Kyrgiakos, Benitez commented “He is a tough defender who is strong and good in the air. He has a strong character and we were looking for these things, he can score goals and will be a threat from corners and free-kicks. He’s very strong in defence but he will need time as always to settle into the Premier League.”
Reina will continue in goal, while the back four of Johnson, Skrtel or Kyrgiakos, Carragher and Insua will continue in defence.
Redkopi Poll #2
Benitez has two options in midfield, many have expressed the opinion they would like to see Steven Gerrard back in midfield alongside Mascherano, with Yossi Benayoun just in behind Torres and Albert Riera out wide on the left.
However, in my opinion Rafa will stick to the team he played last Monday night, Both Mascherano and Lucas will need to press forward more in this game, In midfield its vital to have players who can each chip in with 5 – 10 goals during the season. As I said earlier, Bolton will probably set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Fabrice Muamba dictating shielding operations from midfield and launching breaks, Bolton will set up counter-attacking as well as containment. Therefore, our midfield will have to find the right balance, its vital Lucas gets upfield more to support Gerrard who will find free space hard to find, keeping possession and pressing hard will be key to us finding the three points.
Lucas needs to push further upfield and use the ball well to ensure Torres and Gerrard will find the space and the ability to come off Knight and Cahill or get in behind the Bolton defence, Lucas and Mascherano will have to ensure to keep their heads up and look forward to guarantee they see Gerrard’s and Torres’ runs and find that pinpoint pass….
Alot of work will be taking place in Melwood this week regarding our defending from free kicks and corners, Liverpool have now conceded from two similar straight free-kicks 40-yards out and a corner in the first three games. Tottenham and Villa exposed our defensive weaknesses on numerous occasions so it will be an area which will need to be improved on immensely during the week…
Liverpools Premier League Top Goalscorers
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Player to watch : . . . Kevin Davies
Last season proved to be a hugely successful season for Kevin Davies, who contributed to Bolton’s respectable 13th place finish with 12 Premier League goals. The 32-year-old is currently starting his seventh season at Bolton and has already proved to be one of the finest signing in the club’s history after he joined on a free transfer from Southampton back in 2003. He’s a great presence up top, will unsettle any defence with his power and the way he creates spaces and chances for his team mates makes the Bolton captain a seriously difficult player to play against. The veteran striker is pivotal to Bolton`s success, Davies must be stopped if Liverpool are to take maximum points from Saturday’s game.
Key head to head :.. .Fernando Torres v Zat Knight
Standing at six foot six inches tall, Zat Knight has eight years worth of Premier League experience having gained promotion from Division One with Fulham back in 2001. He joined Bolton during the Summer from Aston Villa but will have to keep a close eye on Fernando Torres. Gerrard will play a key role playing just behind Torres, it will be up to Gerrard to commit defenders and use the ball well to ensure Fernando Torres will the ability to come off Knight or get in behind. Torres has an all-round game to trouble any defence with his pace, dribbling, ability in the air and clinical finishing. One spark of creative genius could turn this match and the Spanish forward may provide that.
Referee : Alan Wiley
Assistant referees : Shaun Procter-Green & Andy Halliday
Fourth official : Mark Haywood
Bolton Wanderers – Last 5 Meetings :
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In previous encounters between Bolton and Liverpool, the Reds have won seven of the previous ten encounters, five of those victories came at Anfield but only two have actually came at The Reebok Stadium….
In my Villa prediction last week, I mentioned Liverpool had never lost a Premier League game in which Torres had scored in and then look what happens….!! I also predicted a 3-1 win for Liverpool, Villa won 3-1 instead…. So…. this week, i’ll keep my predictions to myself!!
Stay tuned to Redkopi and TIA over the coming days for match updates and news….
Redkopi – The Eye of the Red Kop