One of the things I've learned in doing this blog for close to a year now is that with the space in between games, especially when you're not in Europe, there's sometimes no way around repeating topics or over-studying them. You have to fill in the space. It's happened here, but thankfully all the debate looks like it can stop on Saturday.
Steven Gerrard is almost certainly going to start, and we'll finally get an answer to who gets dropped, what formation Liverpool uses, and all the other things we've juggled ad nauseum since Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson signed. Not that I know exactly what will happen.
Still, I think it would be surprising if Kenny Dalglish straight-up drops Charlie Adam. He seems to have built an awful lot around him, and if I were a betting man -- and pay no attention to all those torn-up horse racing tickets -- I'd say Gerrard starts in front of an Adam-Lucas deep-axis. Just a guess, but I don't know if Kenny wants to go straight 4-4-2 against United. And it's not like Gerrard has always shone in just a two-man midfield. His positional sense, and a tendency to want to become Thor-Iron Man-Captain America all at once (sorry, just saw the Avengers trailer) can leave a midfield exposed. We know his best football has come with two minders behind him.
Which leaves only three spots ahead of the midfield to figure out. We know that Stewart Downing is almost automatic. Which is fine, he's only had one bad game in the Derby. Whether you're talking about a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1, what you're essentially left to figure out is your central striker and a player who plays either wide or from the right. For a United game, I think it's pretty obvious it's going to be Suarez in the middle with Kuyt out wide. While Andy Carroll has perked up the couple weeks, the pace at which United play leaves sprawling gaps in their backend, and Suarez is better equipped to make use of that (there was that small matter of him tearing United to pieces last spring). Secondly, shifting Suarez out wide could marginalize him somewhat, and also expose your defense when he's not in the right position. We know Kuyt will help out. Sorry Jordan Henderson.
The wild card here could be starting Craig Bellamy, who's been just about the most effective player on the field when he's been on it. And then you just hope he does the dirty work that Kuyt does, or he can be as smooth as Downing on the left, or that he doesn't actually implode and get four red cards. But I doubt that's the route here.