2:45pm on espn2. Chelsea lead 1-3 on aggregate.
Liverpool: 4-0 Real (h); 1-0 Real (a)
Chelsea: 2-2 Juve (a); 1-0 Juve (h)
Liverpool: 3-1 PSV (a); 1-0 Marseille (h); 1-1 Atletico (h); 1-1 Atletico (a); 3-1 PSV (h); 2-1 Marseille (a)
Chelsea: 2-1 Cluj (h); 1-1 Bordeaux (a); 1-3 Roma (a); 1-0 Roma (h); 0-0 Cluj (a); 4-0 Bordeaux (h)
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 4-0 Blackburn (h); 1-3 Chelsea (h); 1-0 Fulham (a)
Chelsea: 4-3 Bolton (h); 3-1 Liverpool (a); 2-0 Newcastle (a)
Liverpool: Gerrard 7; Kuyt, Torres 2; Dossena, Babel, Benayoun, Ngog, Riera 1
Chelsea: Drogba 4; Anelka, Ivanovic, Terry 2; J Cole, Essien, Kalou, Lampard, Malouda 1
Referee: Luis Medina Cantalejo (SPA)
Guess at a squad
----Skrtel Carragher Agger
All the news today, whether it’s BBC or the official site, suggests Gerrard will be fit to start. And whether he starts will show how serious Liverpool’s taking this game and how serious his injury is. I've got a sneaking suspicion that these reports are subterfuge from Liverpool, and if Gerrard’s truly got a niggling injury, it’s right to save him for the league. And that makes me think that we’d see something completely out of left field, a la Pompey in February. Chances are I’m wrong, but it’s an interesting idea to contemplate.
What I don’t want to see is the same line-up – plus Mascherano, who would make a difference – as went out last Wednesday. Chelsea had a plan to stifle it that worked, and Essien was especially effective on Gerrard. If Liverpool does play 4-2-3-1, and if Gerrard does start, that the line of three will have to use much better movement, with Kuyt, Gerrard, and whomever switching regularly.
Babel’s probably the biggest reach with this guess – outside of the formation – but both Benayoun and Riera played 90 minutes on Saturday, Riera’s been hit and miss of late, and Babel’s pace could be crucial in overturning the deficit. Plus, the faith to start him in a game like this could do his confidence a world of good.
And yes, I’m actually suggesting Liverpool go to Stamford Bridge and play three at the back. Both Arbeloa and Aurelio can get forward, but five players will add extra steel to Liverpool’s defense. And no, I don’t think this is too defensive a formation when the team needs three goals; it has the potential to switch to attack very quickly.
I don’t want to seem like I’m giving up hope, because that truly isn’t the case, despite the opening sentence of the last leg match review. But unless Gerrard is 100%, I really wouldn’t start him here; yes, the league is that much more important. And if Liverpool’s narrowed the gap in the second half, he’d be available off the bench.
Whatever line-up starts tomorrow has a shot at overhauling this deficit. Bolton scoring three in eight minutes adds some hope, but it’s not as if Liverpool hasn’t overcome worse situations – especially in cup competition.