So this has been a fun week. A completely absurd last-gasp win at QPR last Sunday followed by a tonking at the hands of Real Madrid midweek has left plenty to be desired from Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, and the negativity that's been simmering since the loss to Aston Villa has started to boil over. In terms of results and standing things aren't a complete disaster; joint-fourth on points in the Premier League (with West Ham hosting Manchester City in the early kickoff tomorrow) and plenty alive in race to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League, Liverpool are healthy enough on the surface, but they're flailing wildly beneath it.
Tomorrow they'll face a Hull City side that have put a winless September behind them with two excellent October performances; first they eased to a home win over Crystal Palace via a 2-0 scoreline, with goals from the in-form Mohamed Diame and Nikica Jelavic, and last weekend they were minutes away from a 2-1 win at the Emirates before Danny Welbeck poked home an injury-time equalizer for Arsenal. Hull were comfortable for most of the match, and were it not for Welbeck's strike (and the brilliance of Alexis Sanchez in creating the chance), they'd have six points from their last two.
Steve Bruce won't be too upset with a point away to Arsenal, though, and he'll arrive feeling confident about his side's chances. The manager will be without Jelavic, who hurt his knee pre-match last weekend, and Michael Dawson, who limped off with an ankle injury late in the draw. Steve Harper, Allan McGregor, and Robert Snodgrass are absent as well. At Arsenal, Alex Bruce came on in place of Dawson and Eldin Jakupovic for Harper, and both will be expected to start tomorrow. They'll join James Chester and Curtis Davies in defense, with Diame, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, Andrew Robertson, and Ahmed Elmohamady in the midfield and the impressive Abel Hernandez and Hatem Ben Arfa in attack.
Manquillo Skrtel Lovren Moreno
Lallana Lambert Coutinho
The third match of the week thankfully comes with no new concerns on the injury front, leaving Daniel Sturridge, Suso, Mamadou Sakho, and Jon Flanagan as the only absentees. Worth noting that, of the outfield players, each of Steven Gerrard, Raheem Sterling, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, and Glen Johnson have played a full ninety against QPR and Real Madrid.
For Johnson it should mean a spell on the bench with Javier Manquillo well-rested, while the rest of the back line should look as it did against Real Madrid. Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren are yet to convince as a partnership, but until Sakho's back, Kolo Toure remains the only other option. Alberto Moreno should be fine after his start midweek, especially with rest promised for the League Cup matchup with Swansea City on Tuesday.
It would be nice to Gerrard rested in the midfield, but with Lucas completely missing from the squad in the last few matches, it doesn't appear that the Brazilian will see the pitch before Tuesday. Emre Can could return, and a midfield composed of Can, Joe Allen, and Jordan Henderson would be intriguing (and likely effective) enough. It's impossible to shake the feeling that Gerrard starts yet again, however, and Henderson and Allen are poised to join him.
In attack there should be another start for Adam Lallana and the improved Philippe Coutinho, and hopefully a rest for Sterling. As has been the case all season, the 19-year-old is still the most promising, but he needs a breather even with a night off all but guaranteed next week. It would be nice to see Rickie Lambert given another start with Coutinho and Lallana in support, leaving Sterling, Mario Balotelli, and Lazar Markovic available to come off the bench.
Kickoff is set for 3:00PM BST/10:00AM EST, with NBCSN/NBC Sports Live Extra airing the match in the US. Our coverage will start with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into the matchday post early tomorrow, which will have team sheets an hour before kickoff. Hope you'll be around to join us--if you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation profile and stick around.