3pm, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
2-0 Liverpool (h) 09.27.08
1-0 Liverpool (h) 03.30.08
2-1 Liverpool (a) 10.20.07
0-0 (h) 02.03.07
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Stoke (a); 2-0 Preston (a); 5-1 Newcastle (a)
Everton: 2-0 Hull (h); 1-0 Macclesfield (a); 3-0 Sunderland (h)
Liverpool: Gerrard 8; Keane, Kuyt, Torres 5; Alonso 3; Babel, Riera 2; Arbeloa, Benayoun, Carragher, Hyypia 1
Everton: Arteta 5; Cahill, Fellaini, Yakubu 4; Lescott, Osman, Saha 3; Anichebe, Gosling 1
Referee: Howard Webb
Guess at a squad:
Carragher Skrtel Agger Aurelio
Kuyt Gerrard Riera
Arguably, and in my opinion, this is the best team that Liverpool can put out.
Both Torres and Alonso have declared themselves fit to start, and given their respective importance to the team, I’m hopeful they will. Arbeloa’s also back in the squad and liable to start, but I’ve been pleased with Carra at right back and reckon Alvaro will be eased back after missing the last four matches. And, it’d give us a chance to see Skrtel and Agger as a central pairing, which I’d be even happier to have after a week of unwanted rumors about the Dane's future.
A couple of days ago, Liverpool legend Ian Rush gave a well-publicized interview about the Torres/Keane pairing, saying that Liverpool needed to use the two together and give them an opportunity to form a partnership if the team had any chance of winning the title. And while I hesitantly agree in theory, I'm still of the opinion that Torres if often best as a focal point in the 4-2-3-1, and Mascherano/Alonso as a midfield pairing is crucially important to Liverpool’s spine, especially in games like Monday’s will assuredly be – tough, closely-fought contests where possession will be one of the keys to the match.
Despite having no recognized strikers over the past few matches, Everton’s on a hot streak. Arteta’s been amazing – scoring three goals in the last two league matches. Anichebe looks likely to return to lead the line, but the Blues are still missing Vaughan, Yakubu, and Saha through long-term injury. They’ll also be without suspended midfielder Fellaini, who caused Liverpool problems earlier in the season when playing for Standard Liege.
Last week should be ancient history by now. All focus needs to be on the two matches in a week against the neighbors. It’s easy to overstate the importance of a single match (or two matches), but this week will be crucial. It’s the time of year where the team needs to kick it up a gear, and how Liverpool fares against arguably their biggest rivals could set the tone for the next few weeks. And a win on Monday would assure that last Saturday is ancient history.