Of course Liverpool would be facing the Saints two days after Drew Brees torpedoed my fantasy team's playoff hopes. The universe is not without a sense of humor, it seems.
We enter the last month of 2012, and I doubt there's one Liverpool supporter who won't be delighted to see it hit the bricks. Whatever hope and optimism was carved out in 2011 under Kenny Dalglish was quickly wiped away in 2012, and Brendan Rodger's hiring and resulting excitement or hope has been crushed by the realization of how much work there is to do. The only solace is that 2013 has at least the possibility of sprouting something that can portend to better days.
But there's still December to deal with, and I have not been shy at pointing at this month as the one where the Reds can start to build. What they could build, I don't know, and the idea of an easy or winnable fixture fell farther and farther down the rabbit hole as Liverpool became more and more of a wheezing, coughing ex-smoker on a run of a team. So to sit here and say Liverpool can rip off four or five in a row here would be folly.
But it starts with a promoted team at home before the match that will determine their European fate. Which means there has to be some rotation in the team, because some prominent players are going to be needed in Italy on Thursday. To me, that means both Gerrard and Allen have to be sat. I know we're all terrified of what Liverpool's midfield could look like without any holder whatsoever, but it isn't looking all that great now. And this is the type of match, against a bottom-side at home, where you're supposed to be able to get away without one....
...or at least without one for awhile, because the rumbling is that Lucas will be available to make the bench (if he doesn't have to be immediately chucked in to start). You'd like to think Liverpool can generate a lead in first hour or so and then bring the Brazilian on to lock things down and get him the minutes he needs to build the legs and lungs. I'd like to think that, I really would. I'd like to think Henderson or even Coady could make a fist of it in midfield for an hour or so. But I like to think a lot of things.
Beyond that, Downing has to go. Either Johnson over to the left, Enrique sliding back, Robinson coming in, I..DON'T...CARE. I would expect Suso to come in somewhere, most likely on the flank to let Enrique to go to the back four but possibly at the head of midfield. Though that hasn't worked the past two times, has it? Small chance Assaidi gives Sterling a breather, but he's more likely up for the trip to Udine.
Southampton are getting hot, which of course they fucking are because they're about to play Liverpool. They beat Newcastle 2-0 pretty easily last out, and are unbeaten in four. There's a pay-attention-to attacking troika of Gaston Ramirez, Rickie Lambert, and Lallana here. The Saints can score, but they also struggle to stop you from scoring. They've given up over two goals per game in the league.
No win is going to make us things everything is all right. And I'm not sure another draw can make us feel yet another wrap on the skull that's already gone numb and fuzzy from all the other whacks. A loss would. But a win is needed, the turnaround has to start right now if it's ever coming. So just do it because we need it.
This is also your gamethread. The game is on delayed at 2pm EST on Fox Soccer +