Liverpool v Middlesbrough
Sat 23rd February 2008 (3pm) @ Anfield
Liverpool face Gareth Southgate’s Boro side for the second time in 6 weeks eager to put the memory of the disappointing 1-1 draw last month behind them. With other games taking place later in the weekend, a reds victory will see Liverpool return to 4th place in the Premiership.
The reverse fixture was last month up on Teeside, with Fernando Torres scoring a late equaliser to spare the reds blushes. In last season’s Anfield fixture the reds won 2-0 thanks to a brace by Steven Gerrard.
The reds have an excellent record against the three sides from the North East, having lost only once in 15 matches. Against Boro the reds are unbeaten in the last 6 fixtures.
Liverpool have something of a crisis in central defence. Jamie Carragher is suspended after picking up his 5th yellow card against Barnsley, and both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have not yet returned to full fitness. Alvaro Arbeloa is set to partner Sami Hyypia in central defence.
Up front Benitez has the dilemma of whether to stick with Dirk Kuyt, who has scored two goals in the last two games, and whether to rest Fernando Torres who played the full game against Inter despite only just returning from injury.
If Sami Hyypia plays he will be catapulted in to 20th position in the all time Liverpool player appearances.
The bookies are expecting Liverpool to pick up the three points with the reds at 4/9 for the victory. Liverpool who have a record 11 draws this season, are given 3/1 odds to pick up another draw. Boro are at 7/1.
A repeat of last season’s 2-0 are the shortest odds at 5/1 – a 3-0 victory is at 9/1.
Dirk Kuyt has opened the scoring in the reds last two games and is 6/1 to be the first name on the goalscoring sheet.
Read other reds views in the Liverpool v Boro Pre Match Thread