Luis Suarez is back from his suspension, Manchester United's tired of having 3,000 Liverpool supporters out-sing 70,000-odd United fans whenever the clubs meet at Old Trafford, and it turns out Liverpool signed an attacking player over the January transfer window after all. And also it's Friday, so let's get busy wasting a bit of time…
* Luis Suarez is back and Liverpool's going to win two cups and a pony now. Or win two cups and manage a top four finish—it's either one or the other. At least that's what Steven Gerrard and Steven Gerrard's groin, both out nursing a mild hamstring injury picked up against Manchester United in the FA Cup, think:
Luis can help us achieve what we set out to achieve—finishing top four and reaching two finals. Luis has shown over the last 12 months that he's one of the best players in the world… He has been missed and the players are looking forward to welcoming him back.
Now if only the doctors would get on top of healing what needs to be healed when it comes to Gerrard and his myriad personifiable body parts, Liverpool might just about seem ready to fully put the struggles they kicked off 2012 with behind them. With or without their two key attacking players, though, a decisive run in both league and cup competitions awaits in February as the club prepares to face Tottenham and Manchester United in the league before hosting Brighton in the fifth round of the FA Cup and then heading to Wembley for the League Cup final and a chance at their first silverware in six years.
* Given the value placed on both cup competitions as well as the need to return to the Champions League as quickly as possible, sorting out just which are Liverpool's most important matches over the next month becomes rather difficult. The League Cup final against Cardiff likely has to be considered the priority, but after that it's difficult to suggest that any match is ever more important than one against Manchester United, with the clubs set to play for the third time this season when Liverpool head to Old Trafford on the eleventh.
By most accounts, United's visit to Liverpool for the FA Cup fourth round clash on January 28th went better than expected off the pitch despite widespread fears beforehand over the bile that would be aimed between supporters of the two clubs and at the players on the pitch. However, with the coming match expected to be Luis Suarez' first action away from Anfield following his eight-match ban, there are once again fears that scenes in the crowd could get more than a little ugly. Because of that, United has decided to cut Liverpool's ticket allotment by a thousand.
The move is claimed to be necessary to allow for more ushers and security personnel in an expanded buffer zone between home and traveling support, but there has also been some suggestion that the move is a retaliatory one. This is because in the fall Liverpool reduced United's allotment by a similar number when they visited Anfield for the reverse fixture after claiming that persistent standing in the aisles at last year's match had posed a health and safety risk. Any way you come at it, though, there will only be slightly more than 2,000 Liverpool fans camped out in United's 75,000 seat stadium next Saturday.
* On Wednesday Liverpool dropped out of contention for the NextGen Series when they lost at Tottenham, though as was pointed out in the comments the kids will still get the chance to face off against further European competition in the losers' bracket. At the same time as Liverpool were being beaten on the pitch, however, off the pitch word came out that the signing of prospect Joao Carlos Teixeira had indeed been finalised, despite that the news came out after the transfer window had officially closed.
For those paying attention to this season's NextGen Series, he was the player who ripped Liverpool apart as the centrepiece of Sporting Lisbon's midfield when the sides met in the fall. And for those who haven't been paying attention, turn off your speakers and be ready to sit through more than a few pixely still pictures amongst the hodgepodge of video clips in this non-embeddable compilation.
We'll be back as the day moves along with any breaking news, but in the meantime you probably shouldn't hold a grudge. Chances are it'll just leave you feeling bitter and unfulfilled. Unless of course you enjoy holding grudges, in which case congratulations. I think. As for us, for now we're going to try moving on to something completely different…