No Defence For Liverpool’s Baptism Of ‘Boro
Liverpool v Middlesbrough
Liverpool begin their third competition of the season when they face Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.
Last Saturday West Ham inflicted a third Premier League defeat of the season already on Liverpool in what has proved a tricky opening to the campaign for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The Reds were well off the pace against the Hammers, with Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho putting the hosts 2-0 up inside eight minutes before Raheem Sterling – a third of the season for the young forward – halved the deficit before the break.
It mattered little though as a lethargic performance from Liverpool was punished when substitute Morgan Amalfitano netted a third two minutes from full-time. It was a second loss in a week for Rodgers’ men, who were beaten at Anfield by Aston Villa a week earlier and they have managed just one clean sheet in their six games this term too.
Boro picked up their third win in a row against Brentford on Saturday afternoon, as they crushed the Bees 4-0 at the Riverside to move fifth in the Championship with five wins and three losses from their eight games to lie just three points behind leaders Nottingham Forest.
Grant Leadbitter has top scored for the Teeside club this term and opened the scoring at the weekend to register his seventh goal of the season but the win didn’t come without a cost after Dean Whitehead was sent off with only seven minutes remaining. Middlesborough have so far beaten Oldham and Preston in the earlier rounds of the Capital One Cup to earn a trip to Anfield.
On loan Spaniard Kike scored the final goal against Brentford and has scored six goals since arriving from Real Murcia.
Striker Daniel Sturridge is again absent for Liverpool as he continues his recovery from a thigh strain. Midfield duo Emre Can and Joe Allen are also sidelined with ankle and knee problems respectively while full-back Glen Johnson is out too. It remains to be seen just how many changes Rodgers implements as he looks sure to rotate many of his regular starters.
Whitehead is suspended following his sending off at the weekend with Adam Clayton expected to replace him in central midfield. Former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka is expected to make that his only change though as they look to continue their good form.
Head to Head
The hosts claimed a 2-0 win when these sides last met at the Riverside in February 2009 after Liverpool had already beaten Boro 2-1 on home soil in the reverse fixture in the opening weeks of that season thanks to a last minute winner from Steven Gerrard.
The Reds have won seven of the last eight meetings at Anfield and never lost to these opponents on home soil in the Premier League era but both times have won three of the six meetings between the teams in the league cup.
With a jaded looking team in patchy form and likely to suffer in quality from a raft of changes I see absolutely no appeal in Liverpool at odds of 4/11.
It’s also highly likely that Rodgers and his side will see the fourth most important competition they feature in this season as an unwelcome distraction
, especially since they have already struggled to balance the first two successfully and with a defence which has looked porous all season the 3/4 on both teams scoring is the best of the bets here. I like the 21/10 on the visitors +1 on the handicap too while Kike is excellently priced at 31/10 to score anytime too.