Kickoff from Ibrox at 7:30PM BST/2:30PM EST
Ways to Watch:
Live on LFCtv online for e-Season subscribers.
Johnson Coates Agger Wilson
Maxi Bellamy Aurelio
Bench: Reina, Hansen, Skrtel, Flanagan, Adam, Enrique, Henderson, Downing, Kuyt
Wallace Weir Broadfoot Whittaker
McKay McCulloch Davis Ortiz
Bench: Alexander, Fleck, Lafferty, Healy, McMillan, Kerkar, Perry, Bendiksen, McCabe
When this one was scheduled a few weeks back, there was a fair bit of head-scratching at the timing. Midseason friendlies aren't exactly commonplace, and while Liverpool's fixture list is the least crowded it's been in years, there's still two league matches and a League Cup fixture from this past Saturday to next Wednesday. Recent fitness concerns have been mostly assuaged, but Liverpool don't exactly need to press their luck. And, given the fact that it's up against Champions League fixtures, there's not likely to be much anticipation for this one, "glamour" friendly or not.
But it's something where there would be nothing for two teams that find themselves devoid of European competition for the season, so that's something. Or not. Liverpool's failures to qualify for anything have been well documented, but expectation was a little higher for a Rangers side that won their third consecutive Scottish Premier League title by a point last season. They first crashed out of the Champions League to Malmo 2-1 on aggregate, and then at the hands of Slovenian club FK Maribor by a 3-2 margin when all was settled. Fortune's been kinder to them in league, where they've opened up a seven point lead and a goal differential of plus nineteen.
There's little point in reviewing their first team accolades thus far, as we're not likely to see many of their typical contributors in action. They've got a bit more time than Liverpool before their next match (Sunday kickoff away to Hearts), but judging by first team coach Kenny McDowall's comments in the run-up, it won't be an eleven filled with weekend regulars:
"For one it's a great opportunity for some of the guys that have not been getting match time at first team level, hopefully we'll be able to get a few of them in to the team. And secondly for the younger players involved it's a fantastic experience for them to be playing against a Liverpool team. They are a fantastic side and it's the kind of calibre of team that you like to get the boys experience against so we're looking forward to it. We have a lot of decent young lads coming up and through the system. Gregg Wylde is one of those, there's Jamie Ness and John Fleck too, loads of boys."
Slightly more investment on the Liverpool side of things, although I can't say there's much in this one other than a slightly sentimental return for Charlie Adam and, maybe moreso, Danny Wilson. Anyhow, a guess at the squad for Liverpool, along with a few random notes:
Flanagan Coates Wilson Robinson
Coady Spearing Aurelio
Bellamy Carroll Maxi
---This one's a major pain in the ass to call, as Liverpool will likely either treat this as a glorified training session, a chance to run out the kids, or some unpredictable mixture of both. Without any real injury concerns prior to or after the United match on Saturday, Kenny Dalglish could pick a fairly strong eleven. Or one packed with kids. Or something.
---The squad above is probably way over the top and completely inaccurate, but the one area in which I'm fairly certain is the back line. Jon Flanagan and Jack Robinson haven't gotten back into the squad regularly after last season's emergency duty, so tomorrow presents a nice chance for them to see action again. A central defensive pairing of Sebastian Coates and Danny Wilson makes similar sense; the former has only gotten time when forced on against Spurs and against Brighton in the League Cup, and for the latter it's a return to the club that brought him along from the youth academy to the first team.
---Beyond that I clearly have no idea. I think I'm most confident that we'll see Jay Spearing, maybe Fabio Aurelio in a chance to gain some fitness before falling to injury again, and Conor Coady in another one of his semi-regular first team cameos.
---That front three is way too talented to be playing in a match like this, and I'd much rather see some of the club's youngsters (e.g., Suso, Raheem Sterling, Krisztian Adjoran, etc.) getting most of the minutes. I'm banking on at least one of the three above starting, though, and the other two to feature at some point.
---It wouldn't be a terrible match for Glen Johnson to get time at some point if he's ready; he was completely omitted on the weekend after being declared fully fit, so you'd think that he's just in need of some more concentrated match action. Same goes for Maxi---regardless of whether or not he starts, he's been a ghost since playing a full ninety against Brighton. Likely that he'll play against Stoke next Wednesday, but I still think he could and should be an important part of this season. Great chance for some of the other younger players to have a chance as well, with Andre Wisdom, Toni Silva, Nathan Eccleston, and Martin Hansen possibly included along with those mentioned above.
As I mentioned above, we can't really pretend that there's much to care about, but odds are you'll be following one way or another come tomorrow evening. Either way, make sure you catch up on the significance of yesterday's events in the Parliament. If you haven't already, watch the speeches of both Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, who, among scores of others, delivered impassioned speeches to advocate for full disclosure of documents related to the Hillsborough tragedy. The football's one thing, but what's going on right now in the fight for Justice is much, much more significant.