Last four head-to-head:
2-2 (h) 01.09.71
0-0 (a) 08.17.70
1-3 (h) 05.13.67
2-1 (a) 09.05.66
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Utrecht (a); 2-2 Sunderland (h); 2-2 Northampton [2-4 on penalties] (h)
Blackpool: 1-2 Blackburn (h); 0-4 Chelsea (a); 2-0 Newcastle (a)
Liverpool: Gerrard 3; Kuyt, Ngog, Torres 1
Blackpool: Harewood 2; Adam, Baptiste, Campbell, Phillips, Taylor-Fletcher, Varney 1
Referee: Mike Jones
This is only Jones' second time in charge of a Liverpool match. You may remember the first.
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Agger
Kuyt Cole Jovanovic
The above is almost certainly a pipe dream. Agger's probably still injured, I expect teacher's pet Poulsen to keep his spot, Jovanovic hasn't been seen since Northampton, and Meireles and Cole seem likely to stay on the flanks. Huzzah. If I were actually wagering money on the starting XI, it'd be Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Kelly; Meireles, Gerrard, Poulsen, Cole; Kuyt, Torres.
If Agger's still out, we'll have to hope Kelly's fit enough after injuring his knee yesterday. At the same time, we'll have to hope that whoever plays left back is able to supplement the attack, especially if Cole starts on the left, with his propensity to drift inside. Is this a bad time to mention that Insua was pretty good at going forward? And if Kelly and Agger aren't fit, I have absolutely no clue who'll start at left back. Carra? Johnson? Darby? Torres? Your guess is as good as mine.
Gerrard's return to the line-up should see Liverpool marginally more dynamic in midfield. But as long as it's not Lucas/Poulsen – not singling out either player, just the pairing – Liverpool should be more dynamic. Despite my complaints, Gerrard is Liverpool's top-scorer in the league, although two of the three came from dead balls and he still hasn't registered an assist in any competition (13 other players have, and Torres is Liverpool's top creator if we're counting penalties and free kicks won). Which is why I'd like to see him play in tandem with Meireles; on paper, that should be an attacking, competent pairing. And we've only seen Meireles in central midfield – his supposedly preferred position – against Steaua. Which, incidentally, Liverpool won 4-1. Relatedly, Cole was also in the hole for that contest, and picked up the man-of-the-match award.
I do worry whether Torres will start after a tough 90 minutes on Thursday. Yes, he's not in form, but I've steadfastly defended the player because of Liverpool's current tactics. If we're asking the main striker to hold up play with his back to goal, maybe Liverpool is better suited starting Ngog or playing 4-4-2. Yet, regardless, you have to want El Niño's name on the teamsheet, and hope he crams the complainers' complaints down their gullets. One of these days.
These two clubs haven't met in almost 40 years. And Liverpool's recent tactics should be familiar to the fans alive for that last meeting; they're straight out of Alf Ramsey's "wingless wonders" book.
'I'm going to attack them, and see how good their back four is...'
Words that should strike fear in the heart of any Liverpool fan that's seen the team this season. Ian Holloway's never been a shrinking violet, and Blackpool seemingly only know one style of play. Attack, attack, attack. Then attack some more. It's led to absolute maulings at the hands of Arsenal and Chelsea, and cost them a late goal against Blackburn last Saturday, but the style's still commendable. They've scored in every match but the two against the current 1st and 3rd-placed sides.
One would hope that these tactics lead into Liverpool's hands. The team's suffered against sides willing to pack the penalty area, and Sunday's match is at Anfield. But you can't rule any result out during this era of bad feelings.