Having originally been expected to miss six weeks, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard made his return from a hamstring injury against Hull City on Wednesday in half that time. With Joe Allen having just fallen to injury in the previous match and Luis Alberto appearing to not be in the managers' plans, it was a much-needed boost to a side that found itself down to Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva in the middle of the park.
"It's vitally important to have Steven back," said Brendan Rodgers. "His influence in the team is critical for us. He's worked tirelessly to get back having been out and we just wanted to get him some minutes on the pitch. He wasn't ready to start the game, but his influence back in the team gives us another player of real quality. Over the course of the next 10 days, he'll get right up to speed and it's great to have him back."
Rodgers' ten-day timeline would set Gerrard up for the start in Liverpool's next league match, against Stoke City on the 12th of the month. Before then there's the matter of facing Oldham Athletic for the third year in a row in the FA Cup and after the lower league side dumped Liverpool out of the competition last season, but if one takes Rodgers at his word it would seem unlikely that Gerrard will start against League One's Latics.
With Gerrard likely to be on the bench, it could mean Alberto will get the second start of his Liverpool career—the first came in August in the League Cup—and with Lucas in particular showing signs of tiring over a congested holiday period, there could even be a start on the cards for youngster Jordan Rossiter. No matter the specifics, a significantly weakened lineup seems inevitable, though unlike last season Liverpool will benefit from the match being played at Anfield.
"I said when I came in here that I wanted to make it very difficult for opponents," added Rodgers when asked about Liverpool's improved home form, with the club currently stood third best in the Premier League at home. "If you're going to win anything it comes on the back of, first and foremost, your home form, and we've grown to love playing here again.
"This was a place where maybe teams could come to and fancy themselves to get a victory [in recent seasons]. But I think we've shown over these last 18 months that coming to Anfield now is a really difficult task. When we play here, with the backing and the great support, we expect to win. That's not being arrogant—it's just what good teams do."