Club Focus – Liverpool – Reds eager for Blackpool revenge

Liverpool’s Boxing Day fixture against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road is already in doubt after newspaper reports claim that the club have admitted the pitch may still be frozen for the encounter. Newly-promoted Blackpool are the only Premier League side without under-soil heating for their ground, meaning home fixtures for Ian Holloway’s side are more likely to be postponed following a flurry of wintry weather.

Premier League officials are concerned about the issue, particularly because the Tangerines have already had to call off games against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur this season, due to effects of the bad weather. Another postponement against Liverpool could lead to a huge backlog of games. It would also mean that both Blackpool and Liverpool will have missed two Premier League fixtures in a row and given the latter side’s participation in Europe, this could cause fixture-list mayhem.

Providing the game does go ahead, the home side could prove a tough nut to crack for Roy Hodgson’s struggling Reds. The Merseysiders fell to an embarrassing 2-1 defeat against Blackpool at Anfield earlier in the season and if you consider the fact that Hodgson’s away record is less than impressive, it is by no means unimaginable that such a result could occur again this weekend. However, Liverpool will be desperate to win at Bloomfield Road and get revenge on the newly-promoted side. Not only will a victory on their travels give the Reds a huge boost for future away games, but it could also lift them above Newcastle into eighth position. Failure to win would heap more pressure on manager Hodgson and depending on other results, could see the Merseysiders begin to fall even further behind the likes of Bolton, Sunderland and Tottenham, leaving qualification for a European competition next season in serious doubt.

One positive piece of news for Liverpool is that skipper Steven Gerrard could return to the starting line-up against the Tangerines. Gerrard was doubtful for last weekend’s home game against Fulham, but with that match being postponed anyway, it will have given the influential midfielder an extra rest which could allow him to face Blackpool on Sunday.

Meanwhile, summer singing Christian Poulsen, who was brought to Anfield as a replacement for Argentina captain Javier Mascherano, could be on his way to West Ham should Avram Grant keep his job. The Danish defensive-midfielder has been largely disappointing for the Reds so far, leading to criticism from supporters. Even Hodgson seems to have lost faith in his purchase, with Poulsen failing to make the starting XI on a number of occasions this season. The funds from the possible sale of Poulsen could allow the club to reinvest in a younger player with more potential and a higher resale value, such as Frenchman Yann M’Vila, who has been strongly linked with a move to Anfield recently.

With the January transfer window looming, Liverpool will inevitably be linked with players arriving and departing. However, the most important thing during this busy period of fixtures is definitely getting more points on the board and climbing up the table.

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