3rd Round replay. 3pm EST, on in the US on FSC
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-1 Boro (a); 1-1 Luton (a); 1-1 Wigan (h)
Luton: 1-3 Swansea (h); 1-1 Liverpool (h); 1-0 Yeovil (h)
Referee: Peter Walton
Guess at a line-up:
Arbeloa Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Pennant Gerrard Alonso Babel
Since these two teams met a little over a week ago, Luton’s sold 2 players who featured in the last match (Dean Edwards and captain Chris Coyne) and manager Kevin Blackwell’s resigned, although he’s not leaving the club until February. And to compound matters, keeper Dean Brill is doubtful thanks a tight strain with no back-up (Beresford, the other keeper, is injured), while new captain Chris Perry is hindered by the same injury.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s mired amidst a string of underperforming draws, with the much-discussed sleazy gossip swirling around that I’ve no desire to scribble about again.
Boss: I’ll pick strongest team
I take that article with a grain of salt, but at the same time, I expect Liverpool to play a strong side. It’s not as if Liverpool trotted out the reserves in the last match, and FA Cup progression has gotten even more important thanks to the stuttering league form and the situation surrounding Benitez.
I want to see Crouch partnering Torres, but I wouldn’t mind another chance to see Babel as a striker either, this time paired with Torres. Neither Kuyt nor Voronin have played well lately, and I don’t know if Liverpool can rest Torres with the form they’re in. Both Crouch and Babel need to have an opportunity up top with Torres to see if there’s a chance at a partnership, as both are scoring at better rates than either Kuyt or Voronin, even if Babel’s been more influential off the bench.
I would have included Agger in the line-up, but news yesterday is that like happened to Alonso, Agger’s suffered a setback and will probably be out for at least another month. Which, if we hadn’t been party to the Klinsmann news, surely would have ruined my day by itself; I’ve no need to reiterate how important Agger is to the defense and building the attack from the back.
Which is why it’s of utmost importance to start working Skrtel into the first team now. Both Hyypia and Carragher are playing too many games, and it’s showed in Liverpool’s defensive record. There’s always a period of adjustment to a foreign league, especially as a 23 year old, and as a defender. The more Skrtel plays now, in games like this where the backline shouldn’t be challenged as much as in the Prem, the more it’ll pay off for the rest of the season.
Whoever starts at centerback will assuredly partner Carra, who’s already been named captain for the night, on his 500th appearance for the club. Legend.
The FA Cup run has become more important thanks to Liverpool’s other struggles. Normally there wouldn’t be as much focus on a third round replay with Luton, but Liverpool needs results, and more importantly, needs a good performance to get past the last few.
Players need to play as if their jobs depend on it. Because frankly, it looks like Benitez’s might.