With so much talk of tactics, formations, and battles in midfield earlier today, here's something a little more visceral: video of John Flanagan's debut against Manchester City. It seemed an impressive display at the time, the 18-year old kid filling in on the big stage at an area of desperate need for Liverpool and hardly putting a foot wrong all match. Watching it over again, it might actually seem even more impressive:
He was comfortable on the ball, comfortable passing in tight spaces, made a few crunching tackles, got forward, and even threw in a few tricks for good measure. He also handled Mario Balotelli with ease. Though of course even a bib can handle Mario Balotelli with ease, and somebody like Sami Nasri for Arsenal might be a rather different story, especially with the gunners getting a week to prepare knowing Flanagan's likely to start come Sunday.
And if Flanagan does start, it will be an even tougher task than City was, and not just because he will likely go up against a more experienced player who will target him. By most accounts, Flanagan didn't know he'd be starting until the last minute against City, largely removing the chance for a long, slow buildup of nerves. Not to mention a game at the Emirates will be a rather different situation than starting at home for a Liverpool local.
Still, when you watch how well he played against City in all aspects of the game, and then you look at Liverpool's fullback situation, it's hard not to hope that he does get a second start in a row. Especially when the only other option is Carragher sitting in his own half as a theoretical right back and hoofing the ball down the pitch while Sotirios Kyrgiakos sits in at center back and waits for the perfect opportunity to hand Arsenal a penalty kick.