Before we get to talking about the big match today:
-Martin Kelly has been ruled out for a month, which I think is what we all expected when we saw the injury. There's no way to dress this up to make you feel better. With United arriving on Sunday, Pool have to hope that Fabio Aurelio can stay taped together for more than seven consecutive minutes allowing Glen Johnson to flip over to his natural side. But with Johnson's defensive...abstractness, that's doesn't really assure anyone. But I don't think any of us want to see Danny Wilson put out against Nani or Jamie Carragher having to deal with whoever on the right. And that's not even getting to if Daniel Agger will be healthy or not, considering his lofty status in the team now. Luckily, this is only one of two league matches Liverpool play this month, and the other games he will miss are the two legs with Braga. I'd like to think that getting by them is not hinging on the health of a 20-year old fullback. But I'd like to think a lot of things.
-Right, Chelsea-ManUre. This match was supposed to be played the week before Christmas, but someone outside Stamford Bridge yelling it might snow caused the whole thing to be called off. The addition of Torres and David Luiz hasn't exactly lifted Chelsea to the heights, and tonking Copenhagen certainly doesn't count. They should have lost to Fulham, could only manage one goal against Everton in 120 minutes at home and then biffed the penalties, before Ashley Cole decided to start shooting employees (is there a footballer less in touch with reality?). So while I'd love to sit here and say that Chelsea are going to blow this title race wide open today and keep #19 from being a sure thing, there doesn't appear to be a lot of evidence to that. This midfield still doesn't get it, Frank Lampard is still old and fat, and they haven't figured out how to cobble the attack together to be a threat. If they start Torres on his own and keep Drogba on the bench, the Drog's pouting there will be a huge distraction. Play them together? No evidence that works. And yet there is so much talent here there's always the chance it just snaps into gear for a night.
On the other side, United managed a win at the weekend at Wigan, where they were able to elbow and kick as they pleased with no punishment. No way should Rooney be playing today, but I long ago labeled complaining about United's treatment by officials as shouting at the rain. Funny thing is United aren't any good away from Old Trafford, with only four away wins on the year (actually, I don't think they're all that good in total, but I'm biased and a whole bunch of other things). But Ferguson will have seen it's not all that hard to blunt Chelsea, just keep their fullbacks in check and they're pretty much a shark turned over. This reeks of a 0-0.
Feel free to use this as a gamethread for the match, and for their takes check out We Ain't Got No History (Chelsea) and The Busby Babe (ManUre)