It is hard to believe that we are less than 48 hours away from one of the biggest games of our season. Ahead of our match I sat down with Sam from Anfield Asylum to talk about Liverpool's season. Here are his thoughts, and if you want to read more about the RS, head on over and check out the fantastic site they have put together
RBM: Liverpool has struggled on the pitch recently, what is causing all of these struggles?
AA: You name it, it's been part of it. Injuries, fatigue from key players, drops in form, lack of depth, some goofy managerial decisions, and most of all a lack of give a fuck. Agger's injury was huge, he really pulls the defense together, and Skrtel is a complete schizoid when paired with Carragher. Injuries to Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly threw an out of his depth John Flanagan into the fray. Jose Enrique is exhausted. Steven Gerrard has played too many matches after his injury layoff. That's part of it. But after the Arsenal stomach punch, the league season was shot and the players knew it. They just didn't care all that much about matches, sometimes not even showing up. Kenny has played players out of position, completely fisting Jordan Henderson's and Andy Carroll's confidence. Oh, and we have this thing where he have a fear of the space between the posts. It's a strange kind of agoraphobia.
RBM: A lot has been written about Andy Carroll and his struggles. Do you think he is ever going to be successful at Liverpool or is it going to be time to part ways in the summer?
AA: I guess it depends on how you define "successful". He's never going to justify that price tag, which was an unfair way to judge him as it was a complete panic buy after Torres fucked off to not score for Chelsea with only hours to go at the deadline. Basically, Newcastle could hold liverpool up for whatever, and they did. But can Carroll be a useful squad member at least? Definitely. Though he's not scoring, and has some hilarious misses, he occupies defenders and opens up space for others. His work rate has improved, and he's still very young. Is he going to score 25 goals in a season? No, probably not. Can he chip in 15 and provide a different sort of threat, a la Peter Crouch? Yes, I do think he can.
RBM: Dalglish has borne a fair share of criticism this season, do you think he stays with Liverpool next season or is he all but gone?
AA: This is touchy. Kenny has made his share of missteps this year, and his consistent blaming of refs and everyone else isn't winning him any favors. He's really harmed Henderson's development by shunting him out wide far too much, and stuck with Charlie Adam far too long. He didn't get Sebastien Coates enough games to develop, preferring to waste all of our time with Carragher who isn't part of the long term solution at the club given his age. His team quit on the season for a while there, and that only reflects on him. Every time Dirk Kuyt bitches to the press, he gets back in the team even though he really doesn't do much except make it look like he's doing a lot. But this is Kenny Dalglish. One does not merely fire Kenny Dalglish. With the new ownership only having been in place slightly over a year, it would be a huge risk to sack a club legend who still has his supporters. More likely, they nudge him to step aside if they can find a better replacement, as Kenny's first love is the club and not his job. But my guess would be he sticks for another season.
RBM: How big of a loss will Pepe Reina be for the match this weekend?
AA: Not as big as you think, but hardly small. Reina really hasn't been Reina this year, and there have been far more gaffes then I can remember from him. The defense, until the past month or six weeks, has really kept him from having to do all that much, and with Agger and Johnson returning that could be the case again. But we're still talking about a world class keeper on his day, and it's clearly not a help to not have him around. With the way Everton are going, a couple saves at least are going to be needed, and I still trust Reina to make them way more than I do Brad Jones to. Assuming he doesn't have something fall off of him in training this week, with the way things are going.
RBM: If Liverpool wants to advance to their second cup final this season, what are some of the things they will need to do against Everton for the victory?
AA: Defend a fucking set piece. They've had issues with it all season, and it was the only way they'd been breached until things went to shit. Everton are always strong at it, and that's my biggest fear. Other than that, it's always the same cry this season -- get it in between the big white posts you nitwits!
RBM: What part of Everton’s play gives you the biggest scare heading into this weekend?
AA: Jelavic. And also just how much this would mean to Everton, combined with how hard it is to beat any team three times in a season. Not to degrade our blue neighbors, but a win over Liverpool at Wembley would almost by itself make the season a success, combined with finishing above Liverpool in the league. I expect every Everton player to be foaming at the mouth for this one, and with Liverpool's recent malaise of not being able to locate a flying fuck, I really worry they can't match that passion.
RBM: What is your prediction for the match?
AA: Agger's and Johnson's return mean so much, so I'm not as cynical as I was. But the problems of not finishing are still there. I'd say 1-1 and heading into extra time, but I can't claim to know where it goes from there. I just know it'll be torture.