After what seemed like an eternity, Liverpool are finally back in action tomorrow. It will have been over two weeks by the time the opening whistle sounds, which is the longest break they'll have during the season. To have that in the rear view is nice enough, though it's tempered by the fact that their second-longest break comes in just a few weeks and is only a day shorter. So. Celebrate?
Hopefully next time around we're left disappointed by such a long layoff because Liverpool have again managed a spell of consistent success; there's four matches between now and the next international break, all of which are arguably ones from which the club can expect some sort of result. Their recent history suggests that there isn't any reason to be overconfident, but early returns have this Liverpool side forging a new path this season with Brendan Rodgers at the helm.
They'll have to continue that trend against his old side tomorrow, with Michael Laudrup in his old role, having led Swansea City to the League Cup trophy last season and a spot in this season's Europa League. They've stuttered a bit at the start of the Premier League season, earning only three points from their first three matches. All of those came in the win at West Brom prior to the international break, as losses at home to Manchester United and away to Spurs had left them bottom of the table after two matches played. It's been a different story in the Europa League, however, where they've cruised through qualifying and are now set to take on Valencia on Thursday to start group play.
That could have an impact on Laudrup's selections for tomorrow, though it's not likely that he'll be fielding a side too different from what we've seen in league to this point. Neil Taylor is the only confirmed injury, leaving a fairly stable eleven--Michel Vorm in goal, Ashley Williams and Chico Flores in central defense with Angel Rangel and Ben Davies as the fullbacks, Jonathan de Guzman, Jonjo Shelvey, Leon Britton, and Jose Canas in the mix in the midfield, and Michu, Pablo Hernandez, and Wayne Routledge--with Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony possible as well--in attack.
Wisdom Skrtel Agger Enrique
Henderson Coutinho Moses
Both Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho have been confirmed as missing out for the next few weeks through injury, but Joe Allen, Kolo Toure, and Daniel Sturridge should all be available. Sebastian Coates is out with a knee injury, while Luis Suarez will serve the ninth of his ten-match domestic ban.
Toure's fitness combined with the arrival of Mamadou Sakho leaves the central defensive picture more unsettled than usual; Martin Skrtel was terrific against Manchester United and would otherwise be a lock to partner Daniel Agger again, but the return of Toure and addition of Sakho leave it all up in the air. For now I'll say Skrtel retains his spot, and rather than forcing Toure back into action at right-back, Andre Wisdom fills in for Johnson. I'd be happy if any of Skrtel, Sakho, or Toure starts, though, which is a new and wonderful and unsettling feeling.
The midfield isn't changing despite Allen's return to fitness, as Brendan Rodgers has stuck with Steven Gerrard and Lucas in deeper roles centrally and Jordan Henderson operating on the right. There is a chance Rodgers changes things up given his familiarity with Swansea's style, but the regular eleven has navigated three different opponents successfully to this point, and I don't know that a major tactical overhaul will be required tomorrow night.
If there is going to be a semi-significant change I'm guessing it's Victor Moses coming into the side for Iago Aspas. Assuming Daniel Sturridge is fit, it's one or the other between Moses and Aspas, and given the form of Henderson and the preference for Philippe Coutinho centrally, Moses appears to fit nicely on the left. That all changes if Sturridge isn't available, in which case Aspas leads the line in place of Liverpool's leading--and only--scorer.
Kickoff is set for 8:00PM BST/3:00PM EST, with NBCSN/Live Extra carrying coverage in the US and Sky Sports 1 airing the match in the UK. Given the later start time we'll have normal news and notes (slow as it might be) for most of the day before the matchday thread, which will run a few hours ahead of the start time. We'll include ways to watch and team sheets as usual, with lineups set to be released one hour before kickoff. Hope you find a way to join us, and that we'll be celebrating a fourth straight win to start the season for Liverpool.