7:45am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
3-1 Liverpool (a) 03.02.08
4-0 Liverpool (h) 12.27.07
3-0 Liverpool (h) 01.01.07
0-2 Bolton (a) 09.30.06
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-4 Spurs (a); 3-0 West Brom (h); 1-1 Atletico (h)
Bolton: 1-0 Hull (a); 2-0 City (h); 0-1 Everton (h)
Liverpool: Torres 5; Kuyt 4; Gerrard, Keane 2; Alonso, Arbeloa, Babel, Carragher, Riera 1
Bolton: Davies 4; Taylor 2; Cahill, Elmander, Gardner, Steinsson 1
Referee: Rob Styles
Getting all the good refs! At least it’s not Steve Bennett…
Guess at a squad:
Carragher Hyypia Agger Aurelio
Kuyt Gerrard Alonso Riera
I think there are two options in both attack and defensive that Benitez will choose from, and honestly don’t know which is more likely in either case.
Torres or Mascherano will probably be left out of the front six. If Liverpool plays 4-4-2, it’s a choice between Alonso and Masch in the middle. Alonso’s on form and Bolton will mainly attack through the air, which eliminates some of the need for Mascherano’s defensive capabilities.
But Benitez might want to take it slow with Torres. He did look rusty against Spurs, and I wouldn’t be opposed to easing him back since this isn’t his first hamstring injury. Plus, there's a midweek international break coming up, and leaving him on the bench here could give reason to keep him out of the Spanish squad. And if that’s the case, Liverpool will probably line up in the 4-2-3-1 with Keane as the spearhead, as they did against Atletico and Chelsea, among others.
I’m hoping there are only two options in defense, but that assumes my rant about Degen after the Carling Cup match comes true, and either Carragher or Darby starts at right back. It’d probably be Carra, since coming on in the 84th minute on Wednesday is Darby’s lone appearance. Also, Degen might be ruled out anyway due to the foot injury that forced him to come off in the last match.
After struggling for results, Bolton’s won their last two against Hull and City. Those six points have pushed them up to 11th, even though the team’s been goal-shy for the majority of the season. I honestly thought Elmander would have a larger impact – and, hands up, so far I've been wrong – but of course, writing this means he’ll probably start to make that impact tomorrow. In addition, captain Kevin Nolan will probably return from injury, and he’s a player that’s haunted Liverpool in the past.
After a stellar September and October, results have started to slip in the past couple of weeks: two losses against Spurs (although one barely counts) and a hardly-deserved home draw against Atletico. But the league is what counts, and the Tottenham match was the only Premiership slip-up since the September draw against Stoke. A win tomorrow, in a difficult venue like the Reebok, against a gritty team that’s usually tough to keep down, would keep momentum going and restore any confidence that's been lost in the last couple of matches.