12:30pm ET, live in the US on FSC
Last four head-to-head:
3-1 Liverpool (h) 08.27.11
2-1 Liverpool (h) 01.01.11
1-0 Liverpool (a) 10.31.10
2-0 Liverpool (h) 01.30.10
Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-0 Stoke (h); 1-0 City (a); 5-1 Oldham (h)
Bolton: 2-0 Macclesfield (h); 0-3 United (a); 2-2 Macclesfield (a)
Liverpool: Suarez 5; Bellamy 4; Adam, Carroll, Gerrard, Maxi, Skrtel 2; Henderson, Johnson 1
Bolton: Klasnic 7; Eagles 3; K Davies, Ngog, Reo-Coker 2; Boyata, M Davies, Muamba, Petrov, Ricketts 1
Referee: Kevin Friend
Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Downing Shelvey Maxi
The same questions and concerns continue to be the focus. Where are the goals coming from and who'll comprise Liverpool's stuttering attack?
Chances are that the three at the back system so lauded after Stoke will be shelved. Liverpool's options are partnering Kuyt or Bellamy with Carroll, or reverting to the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3/4-1-4-1 system (whatever you want to call it; five midfielders, one striker) we've seen most often during Suarez's suspension, especially since Spearing's likely to miss out again.
Agger's should be available, while Dalglish didn't mention Maxi when discussing injuries in the pre-match press conference. Spearing remains questionable, Lucas is obviously absent. In theory, Liverpool have to choose three from four to make up central midfield, and two from four to fill the flanks. Gerrard, Henderson, Adam or Shelvey; Downing, Bellamy, Kuyt or Maxi.
Adam remains the primary midfield scapegoat, disappointing over the last month after marked improvement prior to Lucas' injury, while Shelvey seems one of the few dynamic runners who can help shake Liverpool's attacking malaise. Bellamy will be more valuable next week when Liverpool face City on Wednesday and United next Saturday. I'd imagine he'll be kept on the bench in a "break glass if needed" box, with an eye on the upcoming cup ties. Both Kuyt and Downing have also underperformed almost all season, but with both struggling, it's a catch-22 damned whatever you do situation. Somebody's got to play.
In 19th, a point (and nine goals) from safety, this will be Bolton's first league match since selling Gary Cahill. The defender was left out of Wanderers' last league match, a 0-3 loss at United, which gives us an idea of how Coyle will line up until a replacement (likely to be American Tim Ream) is signed. With on-loan Dedrick Boyata out of favor, Bolton's back line was Steinsson-Wheater-Knight-Ricketts, with Reo-Coker and Muamba in midfield, Eagles and Petrov on the flanks, and Mark Davies behind Ngog as a lone striker (a combination which has started the last two league fixtures). Klasnic or Kevin Davies' elbows may replace the former Liverpool striker, while Jaaskelainen should be fit again. Despite the myth's about Owen Coyle's aesthetics, Bolton are still Bolton: burly defenders, combative terrier midfielders, crossing-specialist wingers, and awkward, aerially-effective strikers.
Liverpool have won ten consecutive matches against Bolton, coinciding with the end of Allardyce's tenure. The reverse fixture saw one of Liverpool's most comprehensive performances of the season: first goals for Henderson and Adam, wholly unthreatened until Klasnic's cheap late consolation, and one of just two league matches this season where Liverpool's scored three. Meanwhile, Bolton have conceded three or more in eight of their 21 league fixtures and have kept just two clean sheets.
Maybe this will be the week the dam breaks. If only so we all can stop writing (and hoping) that maybe this will be the week the dam breaks.