3:45pm. As with the last round, it looks like it’s only available on ESPN360.com, even though United at Barnsley is on Setanta today. So, most of us will be stuck with streams. Check the usual places; my first stop will be MyP2P.eu.
Last 4 head-to-head:
4-4 (h) 04.21.09
1-1 (a) 12.21.08
4-2 Liverpool (h; CL) 04.08.08
1-1 (a) 04.05.08
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 United (h); 1-2 Lyon (h); 0-1 Sunderland (a)
Arsenal: 2-2 West Ham (a); 1-1 AZ (a); 3-1 Brum (h)
Referee: Alan Wiley
Wiley was in charge of the last round at Leeds as well. Weird…
Guess at a squad:
Degen Skrtel Kyrgiakos Dossena
Kuyt Voronin Babel
As usual, some mix of senior, reserve, and young players, with an eye on the vastly more important weekend match. And, as usual with games like this, your guess is as good as mine.
Mascherano’s suspended following the red card against the Mancs. Benitez says it’s still too soon for Aquilani to start, but he might make a cameo. With Gerrard still injured – and even if he were fit, this shouldn’t be his first game back – Spearing, Lucas, and Plessis are the only options. Lucas has played nearly every first-team game, but Spearing/Plessis seems too inexperienced and defensive, even for the Carling Cup.
The attack should comprise of Kuyt or Benayoun with the second string, although there’s an outside chance of a surprise like Amoo or Eccleston. Just back from injury and after 80 minutes against the Mancs, Torres won’t play (he better not), while Riera’s still injured, so Ngog, Voronin, and Babel look likely. I’d rather Benayoun’s guile before Kuyt’s workrate, but the Dutchman’s more capable of having an impact when starting three games in a week.
It’s still too soon for Kelly after his strong appearance against Lyon, so it’ll be Degen or Darby at right back. Most important should be rests for Carra and Agger, but Benitez often uses Carra as captain in games like these and rotates defenders far less for fitness. Still, I’d rather see Skrtel and Kyrgiakos or Ayala to give the first-choice centerbacks a breather. That Kyrgiakos and Dossena have been training (see above Gerrard link) is a boon; otherwise, I’d have guessed Ayala and Insua respectively.
We’ll probably be treated to another round of media orgasms over Arsenal’s youngsters. The likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Vela, and Gibbs played in the 2-0 home win over West Brom in the last round, and are likely to do so again. Wilshere and Ramsey are excellent central midfield prospects, while Vela’s shown flashes. But Liverpool’s team will have more experience, and enough talent to beat Arsenal’s day camp.
Tomorrow is more important than the usual Carling Cup match, as Liverpool needs to win to build on the United victory and move past the previous losing streak. And, as I said before the last round, a trophy's a trophy when the club's gone without one since 2006. But it’s still the Carling Cup.