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Andy Carroll, Defensive Pairings, and Other Wednesday Notes

Gerrard Glasses
This is what you get when you Google "Steven Gerrard sunglasses."
The reasons for doing so may not be illuminated in the end.

There's just so, so much potential out there today. A European home leg coming up, the second leg of the first elimination round, tied nil-nil. A soft, vulnerable West Ham on the weekend, a side that even under Roy Hodgson Liverpool blew the doors off back in the fall. And meanwhile, Tottenham lost to Blackpool, wiping out their game in hand without gaining any ground in their attempt to hold on to fourth. I suppose Chelsea did win at Coppenhagen in the Champions League, but hanging on for another round or two just helps keep more English teams qualifying for European play in future seasons, and somebody's bound to knock them out before they get to the end, while meanwhile they're out of the FA Cup so that's one more bit of silverware Fernando Torres can't win. And no, I'm not bitter, why do you ask? I'm just invigorated by all the potential...

* First it was supposed to take a few weeks for Andy Carroll's injury to heal, with the expectation that he would make it back for West Ham at the latest. Then it was to be a potentially season-ending blow. Then it was United that might see him take his bow.

And now we're back where it all began, and there's speculation that Carroll could be fit enough to make the bench and get a run out against the Hammers on Sunday. Which is exceptionally good news, and very much something to look forward to--both the part about him potentially being ready earlier than expected which is actually about in line with what was originally expected, and also the part about a league match on Sunday so that we won't have to wait an entire week after tomorrow's Europa League contest against Sparta Praha.

* Meanwhile, Nate at OYB took the time to do the work and crunch the numbers and paint the charts so that you don't have to. And somewhere along the way he uncovered just how unsettled Liverpool's backline has been so far this season, with twenty-two deferent defences across the forty matches. As he rightly points out, Benitez may have gotten flack for player rotation, but he did like to keep a settled set of defenders as much as possible. For all that rotation and capable squad players may have become an important part of the modern game, what with all sorts of matches across multiple competitions for them to worry about while you get to sit there straining to pop your shoulder in that perfectly satisfying way and wondering why the hell they can't give their all for fifty-odd games a season--not to mention a seemingly endless list of international friendlies that at times appear to exist only injure players from top sides--a set center back pairing in particular has remained the most sensible approach for defensive surety, and the constant changes in defence through much of the season cannot have done any good for what appeared a shaky collective at the best of times.

* Elsewhere, a quick note on the u18 team that seems to have been a non-stop talking point since their 9-0 demolition of Southend and the subsequent skyrocketing expectations for the potential of a bunch of kids, as they are now set for a noon start on Sunday, March 13 at Anfield against Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final. So for anybody in the neighbourhood with £4 burning a hole in their pocket and hopes of seeing United thumped 9-0, well, that might be just about the best chance you get any time soon of both getting rid of those pesky pound notes and of seeing United thumped 9-0. As long as you don't mind people making Arsene Wenger jokes about you.

In the meantime, while you wonder if "Gadafi" trending on Twitter for the past three days is down to disperate worldwide Twatterers all trying to keep themselves under the 140 character limit and figuring nobody will mind a missing "d" and the improper spelling of Libya's military despot of 41-years as he bloodily teeters towards the abyss, or whether it's just that at the end of the day lots and lots of people have absolutely nothing going on between the ears...

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