Keep Your Enemies Closer: Liverpool FC

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool is closed down by Jack Wilshere of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on April 17, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

SamFels of Anfield Asylum, SBN's Liverpool blog, was kind enough to sit down and answer some of our questions in advance of Sunday's tie.

1. So how have you enjoyed Andy Carroll? If you had to pick one out of Carroll and Luis Suarez, who would you take?

If it were a final grade it would be an incomplete. He hasn't been fit all that much. When he has been, he's shown flashes, but the team resorted to hoofing it up to him all too often. That's not necessarily on him, he's an awfully alluring target. However, against City he showed that he can fit perfectly into a flowing, passing team, and that's what encourages me greatly. Same, though in less sample size, against Arsenal. He gets a thumbs up from me, but let's see a full season first.


As for the second question, that's not fair. I'd take Suarez over Torres right now, and that's excluding all the emotions over the teenage girl style under which Fernando left (mostly excluding, at least). Suarez is in constant motion, and shows the touch that only a few in the entire league can manage. He's about as an exciting player as we've had in....well, ever since I've been following. Vision, pace, finish, creativity, flair, he's got it all.

Follow the jump for the rest of the interview.

2. Steven Gerrard - a bump in the road or the start of his decline?

I'd love to say the former, but it's probably the latter. Gerrard is going to be 30 next season, it has to be the decline. But he wouldn't be the first footballer to find a way to reinvent himself in his golden years, look at Ryan Giggs. The question is where. Can he play deeper in midfield? He has a tendency to fire off Hollywood passes that break down moves, can he harness that? Can he move himself into attacking positions constantly? Maybe, but not every match. Stevie G will still dominate the odd match here and there if they can keep his starts down, he shouldn't be playing in every game. But the prolonged stretches where he's vaulting the team up the table on his own? They're probably gone. Personally, in this 4-2-2-2 formation Kenny has been using mostly, he'd be great with Meireles behind the front two, floating in from the right. But he'll never accept a "wide" role, even though he wouldn't be required to stay out wide.

3. How do you feel about Kenny Dalglish? Do you believe he'll be signed?

It's hard not to be on board with Kenny, and I don't go as far back as his initial reign. But to get the club and players and fans believing in themselves again so quickly, that's hard to ignore. He's also shown an ability to be flexible and creative, as Liverpool have deployed a 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 with a diamond, and a 3-4-2-1 for a few games that toppled Chelsea at the bridge. He's brought some kids through which is always encouraging. So unless someone of a real name comes through, he's getting the job for at least a year or two. I don't think he wants it long term, but he's the man to bridge into the new era under FSG,  I think. Even if there is a Europa League campaign next season, all attentions are on the league, and he's proven he can handle that, as United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and City would attest.
 
4. Give us a relatively under the radar player that can make difference for Liverpool on Sunday.

Jay Spearing. We love our local lads (or Scousers do, I'm a Chicagoan but I still kinda do. They're so funny looking!). Spearing had done nothing for two years to warrant the hype that came after coming on against Madrid three years ago and running around a bit when the aggregate was already 4-0. But with his latest run in the team, he's looked a tireless runner, snapping at the opposing midfielders, and not afraid to get forward. With Lucas providing the platform, Spearing has really made the attack lethal by getting possession back so high up the field. Not in the first 11 next year, but certainly a useful squad player, and important for now. 

5. What would be your ideal Starting XI given all of your available players, and who do you think Dalglish will select?

Reina-Flanagan, Skrtel, Carragher, Robinson-Lucas, Meireles, Spearing-Kuyt, Suarez, Carroll. This is probably what Kenny will go with but not in a 4-3-3 but a 4-2-2-2, with Meireles and Kuyt behind Suarez and Carroll. I like the three more because it gets Meireles farther infield where I think he's better, and Kuyt a little more towards goal where he belongs. But these two formations end up being so similar it doesn't matter.

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