We've been talking quite a bit about waiting for the matches that matter--mostly focused on the Premier League, with a little bit of love reserved for domestic cup competition and the opportunities to see younger players and fringe first-teamers get run-outs in proper matches. Preseason is nice and fun and all, but it's mostly a half-hearted waiting game for the stuff that everybody actually cares about.
Only quite a few people actually do care, and it does a disservice to supporters in the places Liverpool tour, with no better evidence of the type of impact the club has than what's going on in Indonesia right now. Shame on me for so quickly forgetting how wonderful it was last season to see the club up close in Boston, and good on the supporters in Jakarta for turning out en masse to welcome the club and cheer them on as they prepare for tomorrow's match against an Indonesian XI.
It's nearly impossible to find information about the squad that Liverpool will face tomorrow other than the names that were included for the 7-0 loss against Arsenal on Sunday:
Subs: Syukur, Salampessy, Sucipto, Wahyu, Wirawan, Mofu, Pae, Ripora, Bonay, Mokodompit, Pellu, Rahadhan
Beyond that we won't know much, but we'll at least be prepared for an excellent atmosphere from Indonesian-based Liverpool supporters:
**HT to Xabi's Red Beard**
Trying to guess elevens last time was stupid. There is no debate about this. So this time around we're just going to talk through some of the more interesting storylines to watch for ahead of tomorrow's match, first of which involves Steven Gerrard. He made a girl cry! Just joking, I looked the same after meeting him last summer in Boston. The actual news is that he's penciled in to start tomorrow, which, after missing the action against Preston North End at Deepdale last weekend, will be the captain's first preseason appearance.
Who he'll partner with in the midfield doesn't really matter, and I wouldn't expect much in the match to indicate how Brendan Rodgers sees the squad shaping up in terms of a regular eleven. At some point I'd like to see Iago Aspas and Philippe Coutinho on the pitch at the same time, with a bit Raheem Sterling mixed in for good measure. All three were in good form against Preston, and you'd think that all three are in Rodgers' thinking for starting spots ahead of the new season.
It'll be similarly interesting to see where Luis Alberto features; last time out he was more removed than we might have expected but was very sharp in possession and distribution, and it would be nice to get a glimpse of him in a more advanced role. Fluffing his only chance in front of goal against Preston means very little, and he'll certainly have further opportunities to impress. Not Fabio Borini, though, because his fluffed chance means that he's probably the worst buy ever.
Rotation through central defense will be worth watching throughout the preseason, as there's little progress been made publicly in terms of transfers and no clear candidate in the squad to partner Daniel Agger. I'm guessing Rodgers will rotate names through alongside Agger--it was Kolo Toure last time (and may very well be again), and Martin Skrtel, Andre Wisdom, and Martin Kelly could all see minutes as the Dane's partner. Sebastian Coates is set to return soon, but I don't know that anyone's expecting him to be with the club too much longer.
Lastly, I mentioned in the recap that it's hard to see a scenario (barring injury) in which Simon Mignolet isn't Liverpool's number one on August 17th, and with Pepe Reina now targeted by Rafa Benitez and Napoli, that seems more and more certain. If Reina does stay the 1-2 picture is murky, but if the club decide to cash in it's Mignolet and Brad Jones.
Kickoff from Jakarta is 2:30PM BST/9:30AM EST, and there should be a range of outlets carrying coverage. Once again LFCTV and their online service will be airing the match live, ESPNUK should have the match in England, and NESN will also have the match stateside. We'll be back at it with the matchday thread early tomorrow, and hopefully you'll be around again--or for the first time if you're planning on de-lurking--for the avalanche of hope and disappointment and pessimism and proclamations that this will finally be the year.
That's really the only way to do it.