The transfer window has, at least for me, taken a bit of the edge off the typical pre-United jitters. They're still coming, and will likely be as miserable as ever, but there's at least a distraction in the build-up to one of the more unpleasant viewing experiences on Liverpool's schedule. The impending arrivals of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori--with Victor Moses and Shay Given also rumored--are good things ahead of kickoff, but let's not pretend that aside from the celebrations of Bill Shankly tomorrow is going to be some sort of joyous experience.
A most fitting tribute would be a resounding Liverpool victory, which we haven't seen for far too long. Tomorrow's hosts haven't won in league since the coming out party of Luis Suarez back in March of 2011, which seems a far away time now, and while Dirk Kuyt's winner in the FA Cup in the 2011-2012 gave us a chance to celebrate two seasons ago, there hasn't been much joy in this tie for Liverpool in recent seasons.
For some the arrival of David Moyes signals a new era, one no longer defined by United as an impenetrable force and the dominant side in the Premier League. They're still United, of course, and they'll still find a way to work themselves into the conversation at the top of the table when it matters. So far this season there's been nothing to indicate that Moyes' influence is a negative one, with an easy win over Wigan in the Community Shield, a resounding opening day victory at Swansea City and an expectedly dull draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend.
Moyes should have a full squad to choose from, with Phil Jones reportedly available after suffering a back injury against Chelsea. David De Gea has shaken off the doubts from his early days to assert himself as the number one, and Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have resumed their partnership in central defense. Jones and Patrice Evra have started both league matches thus far, with Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley anchoring central midfield. Antonio Valencia--who always impresses against Liverpool--will get the start on the right and it'll be interesting to see if Moyes includes Wayne Rooney again, as the forward impressed against Chelsea with Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck also involved.
Johnson Skrtel Agger Enrique
Henderson Aspas Coutinho
The exhausting win over Notts County in the League Cup on Tuesday night not only added another thirty-plus minutes onto a number of likely starters' legs, but it left Brendan Rodgers without Kolo Toure, Joe Allen, and Aly Cissokho. Toure's injury isn't as bad a first feared and he should be ready after the international break, while Allen faces a longer layoff and Cissokho is around six weeks out with ligament damage in his ankle. No other injuries of note, however, and Luis Suarez serves the eighth of his ten-match ban.
With Toure out, Liverpool's hopes at the back appear to be pinned on Martin Skrtel, who's only just returned from injury himself. The Slovakian has been in full training for a couple of weeks but wasn't fit for the Notts County match, but he'll be thrust into the eleven here unless Rodgers opts to go with Andre Wisdom. The other three are as usual, with Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique in the fullback roles and Daniel Agger alongside Skrtel or Wisdom.
In front of defense there's not a whole lot of changing to be done; the front six should be the same as they were in the wins over Stoke and Aston Villa, as Allen's injury combined with Jordan Henderson's form has taken any spice out of the debate as to which of the young duo will feature. Henderson will likely again be the most advanced and ostensibly set up on the right, with Steven Gerrard and Lucas deeper in the middle.
Iago Aspas and Philippe Coutinho will again be given license to roam behind Daniel Sturridge, who is back leading the line after a 120-minute shift on Tuesday. With Suarez still a few weeks away and Fabio Borini far down the pecking order, there's a distinct lack of proven goalscorers in the squad at current, and they'll need Aspas to have a more distinct influence on the match than he did at Villa Park, especially on fresh legs after having the night off on Tuesday.
Kickoff is set for 1:30PM BST/8:30AM EST, with Sky Sports 1 airing the match as part of their Super Sunday programming and NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra carrying coverage in the US. We'll have the usual coverage leading up to the start of the match, with Elizabeth's overnight thread tonight and the matchday thread--which will have viewing options and team sheets--set to run a few hours prior to the opening whistle.
Not long now, and hope you'll be able to join us for the fun. Or the misery. Either way.