Domestic cup competition also presents something of a crapshoot when it comes to team selection; the League Cup typically offers the biggest amount of turnover, especially in the early rounds, and depending on the timing--say, if you had a terrifically important derby match just days away--the FA Cup promises a chance for at least one or two of the fringe first-teamers.
That hasn't necessarily been the case for Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers, however, and that trend continued on Saturday afternoon at Dean Court, where the second-year manager fielded an eleven that had only two voluntary changes from the side that drew with Aston Villa last weekend. Martin Kelly's start in place of the injured Glen Johnson made it three overall, with the eleven setting up mostly the same as they did at Anfield a week ago.
Injuries forced Rodgers' hand, no doubt, but with the derby just three days away, there were a handful of decisions made that seemed to indicate that the manager wasn't concerned in the slightest about whether or not his preferred eleven would have time to recover. And his post-match comments were, you know, pretty much that exactly:
"The tradition in the FA Cup for Liverpool is huge we want to respect the competition as we want to get to the final and win it if we can. The players are fit enough and there's enough recovery time (before the derby). We came with a strong side. We have a very thin squad and along with that we have a number of injuries. In the modern game the players have everything there to recover and go into Tuesday's game on the back of a good win from a difficult game."
Again, there was little for Rodgers to do with so many players ruled out, but some of the more questionable calls--leaving Sturridge, Suarez, Henderson, and Gerrard on for a full 90, taking off Victor Moses, leaving Aspas out, utilizing Alberto for a worthless seven minute cameo--were ones that aren't brand-new, and aren't necessarily a product of widespread injuries.
Regardless of how things played out, we'll have to hope that the manager's assessment of his squad holds true, and that there's good news to follow from the trainer's table for the likes of Joe Allen and Mamadou Sakho. With Everton having something of an injury crisis of their own, a quick recovery for those that took part on Saturday and a timely fitness boost could see Liverpool earn the edge in a derby that's otherwise very evenly matched.