2:45pm, live in the US on Setanta (at the least, on Setanta Broadband)
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 West Brom (h); 1-1 Atletico (h); 1-2 Spurs (a)
Spurs: 2-1 City (a); 4-0 Dinamo Zagreb (h); 2-1 Liverpool (h)
Carling Cup goalscorers:
Liverpool: Agger, Lucas 1
Spurs: O’Hara, Pavlyuchenko 1
Referee: Mike Riley!
Guess at a squad:
Degen Hyypia San Jose Dossena
Pennant Lucas Plessis El Zhar
So, from the official site today, there’s word that Gerrard and Keane definitely won’t play, and it looks like Kuyt, Alonso, and Carragher are in the same boat.
But the fact that Torres is in the squad arouses an irrational fear that he might start tomorrow, as he did at Reading in last year’s tournament. He does need playing time after missing six matches in a row, but I’m also afraid (and I’m knocking furiously on wood as I write this) that something bad could happen in what’s essentially a meaningless game. Hopefully he’ll come off the bench as he did on Saturday, and will return to the starting line-up in four days against Bolton.
Aside from San Jose for Agger (who’s started the last three matches, and San Jose’s my best guess out of the reserve team defenders) and Dossena for Insua (as Dossena hasn’t featured much of late, even though this would mean Insua will miss out, which irks me), this would be the same side that faced Crewe in the last round.
I want to see Liverpool win every match they play – that’s pretty much the definition of a fan. But in a season where there will probably be 60-plus games, you have to prioritize. And this game’s not a priority.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be significant for players like Lucas, Ngog, Pennant, and the rest. All these players will have roles to play this season, and the Carling Cup is important to both their development and fitness. These are the games where they get the necessary experience before being fully plunged into the first team.
I’d rather see Darby in place of Degen, as the youngster’s gotten good reviews in the reserves and looks like one for the future, but Degen seemingly has to play here having not gotten much time since signing over the summer. And with Arbeloa’s suspension looming thanks to a fifth yellow card over the weekend, Degen needs playing time for when he has to step into the first team.
As Tottenham are the defending champions in the competition and on a roll, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them deploy a strong team. Redknapp’s continued to work his magic, with Spurs unbeaten in the five games since he was named manager. But that shouldn’t affect how Benitez sets up his side.
While revenge for the loss a week and a half ago would surely be sweet, it’s less important than resting key players for the league campaign and getting the reserves/youngsters time in the first team.