We're pretty much committed to emotional car crashes at this point. Liverpool stand fourth in the Premier League table with twelve matches to go, with basically one per week from now until Newcastle visit Anfield on the season's final day. People are talking about a title challenge. Statistics say that a top four finish is a formality. My resting heart rate and BAC are not sustainable. Everything is the best.
The methodical approach to the run-in is going to be excruciating, but given the state of the squad, I don't know that we could ask for much more. Liverpool are perilously thin in a number of key positions, and the added rest between matches will no doubt be of benefit during a stretch that will determine whether or not there's Champions League football in the club's future. Maintaining their cutting edge might be a minor concern, but there should be more than enough motivation available at this point.
Swansea won't be short of their own motivation tomorrow, with Garry Monk now at the helm and hoping to lead his squad to a result against their former manager. They've mostly been more cohesive under Monk than they were during the final weeks of Michael Laudrup's tenure, earning a win over Cardiff and a draw at Stoke in their first two league matches under their former defender. Their last two have come in cup competition, with a dismal 3-1 loss at Everton--including a nearly unrecognizable eleven--followed up by a strong performance in the 0-0 draw against Napoli in the Europa League.
Monk will have to continue without Michu, but Jonjo Shelvey made a return as a substitute on Thursday and should be available to start. Few first-team regulars were rested midweek as Monk opted to go with Michel Vorm in goal, Angel Rangel, Ashley Williams, Chico Flores, and Ben Davies across the back, Leon Britton, Jose Canas, and Pablo through the midfield, with Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge providing support for Wifried Bony up top.
Johnson Skrtel Agger Flanagan
Suarez Sturridge Sterling
The biggest news on the injury front is Glen Johnson's availability after an extended layoff, and he's set to be followed by Mamadou Sakho and Lucas in the coming weeks. As we talked about yesterday, there's no set date for Jose Enrique's return, who continues his rehabiliation stateside.
If Brendan Rodgers' comments on the fitness of Johnson are accurate, we could see him slot in straightaway at fullback, which would mean a shift to the left for Jon Flanagan, who's looked just as good--if not better--on that side this season. Both could feature on that side, of course, and there's a chance that Aly Cissokho keeps his place on the back of a number of solid showings of late. I'll guess Glen Johnson comes back with Flanagan sliding over, with Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger partnering in the middle.
Little needs changing in the front six, which should see Steven Gerrard in the holding role yet again and Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho more advanced. Swansea will undoubtedly press Gerrard early and often, making this another significant test as the captain continues his transition.
The only real significant shift needed from the loss at Arsenal last weekend is at the pointy end; Daniel Sturridge was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal, Luis Suarez hasn't scored since the derby win over Everton, and Raheem Sterling is yet to find any consistency with his finishing. It's not a genuine problem, of course, and at any given moment they can combine with terrifying efficacy. Just score the goals.
Kickoff is set for 1:30PM GMT/8:30AM EST, with NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra carrying coverage in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.