The One To Get The One: Liverpool v. Everton FA Cup Semifinal Preview

Liverbird_right_medium v. Bluemeanie_medium
KICKOFF: 6:30am EST, 12:30pm BST
TV: FSC for the Yanks, Sky for the Brits
GOODISON GOAT HERD: Royal Blue Mersey

Don't worry lads, only the whole season rides on tomorrow's game.

And that's pretty much it. Liverpool's season will be defined on the result tomorrow, and the result in the final should they succeed tomorrow. With a loss, we'll be left with a League Cup, and wholly disappointing league campaign, more disorder in the board room or at least above the playing field, and a squad full of questions and non-answers. Win, and Liverpool have the chance to make the season something of a success with a second trophy.

So now it's just deciding what is indeed the best 11 for a big match. We know there's no choice but to throw Brad Jones out there in between the posts. If you'd told Jones before the Newcastle match that he was going to start the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley, he'd have probably snorted in laughter. But here we are.

The first choice defense looks set to go, with Agger and Johnson both getting run outs earlier in the week. One would have questions about them getting the 90, or especially extra time if that's required, but those are debates left for another day. This match is all that matters. So Johnson-Agger-Skrtel-Enrique across the back.

This is where it gets tricky. We know Gerrard and Spearing will start. But in a 4-4-2 with Downing and Kuyt flanking them? Or along with Henderson behind Kuyt-Suarez-Carroll? One might guess that after Tuesday's exertions down a man that Henderson and Carroll might not have the legs for this. But considering Hendo's rollicking performance and Carroll bagging the match winner, Dalglish may want to ride the roll here. With Kuyt and Suarez combining with Carroll, it might make Liverpool too narrow, but Kuyt's going to play because of that thing he does where he scores against Everton a lot and not much else.

There is the option of Henderson and Spearing in the middle with Gerrard out wide to whip crosses in, and we might see that. I'm guessing it's Kuyt on the left of a 4-4-2 with Carroll and Suarez up top.

Sadly, Everton could not be coming into this any hotter. Haven't lost in five, and only two losses since January, one of which was to Liverpool. Nikica Jelavic has been banging them in and is the talented striker that the Blue Shite simply haven't had. There's always the danger of Tim Cahill, who's kind of the reverse Kuyt. Heitenga and Distin have been pretty impenetrable in the center of defense, and Man U reject Darron Gibson has proven to be slightly more than some doofus who could crash one in from 25 yards if given a half hour's worth of space -- which is all I thought he was. Leon Osman provides a threat as well, and everyone's in tip top form.

It's because of that, and that Liverpool are attempting to beat their neighbors for the third time this season, and that Everton will know those other two defeats won't matter if they get this one, and that they're ahead in the table and will want to cement that fact, that I'm terrified of this match. Especially when it comes to set pieces, because Liverpool have been abhorrent at times defending those and Everton have multiple aerial weapons. The return of Agger should help, and could be another reason to play Carroll and he generally does the defending well.

If Liverpool can defend those, and if they can keep Jelavic from wriggling free, then they'll have every chance of taking the match by the throat. But this is going to have very little to do with football, and the pace of the match from the opening whistle is going to ripple your cheeks. It's going to be a frenzy, and expect a few tasty tackles in the opening exchanges. You're going to age about 10 years in these 90 minutes.

But that's the way you want it, right?

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