This is a big one and not just because both sides could do with a win, after achieving disappointing results on Saturday.
A win for Liverpool will firmly put us in our place and give them the psychological advantage in the race for a Champions League spot. A win for us would open up a gap of 7 points and possibly cost their manager his job. If it’s a draw, everyone will just shrug and bumble along as they have been doing all season.
After the initial postponement, everyone was disappointed and accusing Liverpool of ducking the game, but now that Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun are all out, you can only say that it has worked in our favour.
Liverpool looked completely toothless against Stoke and only scored a goal because of their keeper making a clanger, which is pretty much the opposite story of what happened to us against Hull.
They should look somewhat more potent tonight, as Riera looks as if he will return to the left wing, with Maxi Rodriguez on the right. I have to say that I used to be a massive admirer of Rodriguez, but haven’t really seen that much of him over the past couple of seasons. It will be interesting to see if he’s still got it. For a wide player, he has always chipped in with a lot of goals.
There’s even talk that Liverpool will give a rare game to Aquilani, who should add some guile top their midfield. Even so, this is a Liverpool team missing their three main creative threats and we have to aim to capitalise on that.
We’re missing some players of our own, with Lennon the one that will hurt most. I’d have loved to seen him running at the Liverpool defence tonight and might have even advocated him switching to the left and having a go at Carragher at right back. Without Lennon’s pace, I hope that Harry isn’t afraid to give players like Naughton and Rose some time on the pitch, though neither will start.
Huddlestone is out with a knee problem, so you would assume that Jenas will step in, although O’Hara is also available after his loan spell at Portsmouth. Both are hard working players and with Kranjcar and Modric both likely to drift infield we should be the equal of Liverpool’s midfielders in terms of numbers.
You have to expect Crouch to return alongside Defoe. Of course both Crouch and Keane have a point to prove against their old club and you could also argue that Keane has a point to prove to us, also. Keane has scored the last four goals that we’ve scored at Anfield, but he’ll probably still start on the bench.
In defence Ledley is a big doubt. Without Torres to worry about and with Dawson and Bassong in fine form, I don’t think that we will be taking any chances on him.
The major thing that we need to develop to win games like these, is belief. In the Carling Cup against Manchester United, we also faced a weakened side. In that game we had a lot of possession and created chances, but never looked as if we really believed that we could win.
If we win one away game against the Sky four, it will give us the mentality to believe that we could do it again. I guess that makes this game even bigger in terms of it’s importance.