In honor of counting down the final minutes of international duty...
At the time of writing, we're only a few short hours away from getting back to business for Liverpool in the Premier League. Between here and there is plenty busy, though, with only the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein underway in Euro qualifiers. That leaves six matches in which Liverpool players could feature, three of which are glorified ticklefights and, in an ideal world, shouldn't tax the body too much, even if you are a booze-swilling English forward. The quick rundown:
Ways to Watch:
Fox Soccer Channel/ESPN2/ESPN3.com in North America
Sky Sports/ITV/BBC in England
Tuesday Euro Qualifiers:
Estonia v. Serbia 2:30PM EST/1830GMT
Netherlands v. Hungary 2:30PM EST/1830 GMT
Lithuania v. Spain 2:45PM EST/1845 GMT
Slovakia v. Denmark 2:15PM EST/1815 GMT
England v. Ghana 3:00PM EST/1900 GMT
Portugal v. Finland 3:45PM EST/1945 GMT
With that settled, we can move along to a few assorted pieces of news to round out the day before we launch into the build up for the match we've all been waiting for. Not really because it's Hodgsonpalooza, though, just because it's an actual Liverpool match after slogging through what seemed like an eternity.
Anyway, the news:
* Luis Suarez has made a few headlines today---first for winning the club's Standard Chartered Player of the Month award after he played a significant role in both of Liverpool's wins in league, and left us wondering what could have happened had he been available for the Europa League tie with Braga.
His exploits on both occasions were well documented around here, with Noel kindly assembling posts focused on his massive performances in the wins over Manchester United and Sunderland. The only worrying aspect of his performances came in the latter match, and that's only because he limped off in the dying minutes. There hasn't really been any sort of discussion from the club regarding the injury (and he's not listed on the official
Fabio Aurelioinjury tracker), and all we know right now is that he hasn't taken part in any international duties over the past week and a half. Here's hoping he's ready for Saturday.
The other Suarez-centric bit of news is a short blurb that Sky Sports stole away from LFC Weekly, in which the new signing discusses the impact mentioned above:
"I've only been here a month-and-a-half and it's good to see the fans are happy. I came here to work hard for the team and to do my absolute best. If they are singing my name maybe it shows I'm doing my job well. But there are a lot of games and there is a lot of time to go before I am a real hero. It's too early for that. I think the fans at this club play a major role, bigger than at some other clubs.
"The only part of the song I can recognise is my name. Although I might not understand what exactly they are singing, I know my name is mentioned. That's important to me."
You'd be hard-pressed to find a Liverpool supporter who isn't enamored with the early performances he's turned in, and there's little more to say than we're all hopeful it---both the performances and the humility displayed above---continues. The more time that passes since the January window, the better off Liverpool looks, and Suarez is almost solely responsible for that. Now it's just a matter of keeping that giant Standard Chartered champagne bottle away from Andy Carroll.
* Elsewhere we've got a nice Martin Skrtel puff piece, wherein the stern-looking but apparently kind-hearted Slovakian speaks of the influence of Kenny Dalglish. Typically I'm over these sorts of things before I even read them, but I have to say that, even knowing the status of Dalglish at the club, it's fascinating to hear the outpouring of player support. I think most of the squad members have done the same to an extent for the most recently departed manager, but it's largely the same stock "nice man, tough situation" quotes. With Dalglish they all roll out the red carpet and unanimously call for his permanent appointment, which is enough to make me have serious hope that we can look to a future with Dalglish at the helm.
"He knows how to take the pressure away and protect the squad. A lot has changed at the club recently, but the most important thing has been confidence. Kenny has given us that. With confidence in football you can achieve great things. Everybody is happy now, looking forward to every single training session, every match.
"If he gets a contract for a long time, I'll be very happy. Every day he makes work interesting and enjoyable. We are winning games now. You can tell Kenny is a winner.
"Why would I go anywhere else? I know I am at a huge club - one of the biggest in the world, with a history and a set of supporters that no other club can really match. We have great player like Stevie Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. Not everybody gets to experience this. I am very proud to be here. I have a contract for the next three-and-a-half years. I am happy here, so if the manager and people at the club are happy with my work, I'm happy to be here too."
Less certain, maybe, is Skrtel's future at the club. He's had arguably his most difficult season in a Liverpool shirt, with more shaky performances than sturdy, and the calls for a young, more consistent central defender have increased as the summer approaches. Always nice to hear players speak of their pride at playing for Liverpool, but in Skrtel's case he's probably going to need to see the season out at a high level.
That's it for Tuesday, so hopefully we can all enjoy seeing out the rest of the internationals relatively safely. Noel will be along tomorrow to carry us all through to the preview on Friday afternoon, which is when I'll plan to make my return. Until then, occupy yourself by trying to figure out who GOB's wife is really in love with.