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Before The Wheel Is All That's Left: Liverpool v. Reading

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Liverpool return after international break with a wheezing car

Jamie Squire

KICKOFF: 3pm BST, 10am EST

TV: FoxSoccer2Go Live, at 2:30 EST on FSC delayed

Now that that one pin has been pulled on the Liverpool automobile, and Brendan Rodgers as Daffy Duck has to get it to January before he's just floating on air holding a steering wheel as the squad falls apart around him, the team is basically going to have to be made up from here on out.

Tomorrow, Liverpool could be or are definitely without Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique, John Flanagan, Fabio Borini, and Andre Wisdom due to injury, and Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Glen Johnson, or any of their top central defenders due to fatigue. You could add Sahin to that list as he started his first international this cycle on Tuesday for Turkey. But that's ok, there's only three games this week.

The most likely scenario sees Suarez start, pretty much because he has to. Personally, I'd kind of like to see Gerrard kept in reserve for Thursday after his elongated stay in Warsaw. But then he'd have to manage two matches in four days, the second of which being a Merseyside Derby. But is that harder than the two matches in four days he'd be asked now, with the first coming in not exactly around the corner Poland? You decide. Plus, Gerrard has able and younger replacements in Shelvey and Henderson. Suarez does not.

In defense, wouldn't be shocked to see Carragher paired with either Agger or Skrtel, as Jamie was just lounging around during the break. But seeing as how the league is clearly Rodgers's priority, as it should be, expect Gerrard, Skrtel, and Agger to be out there and we'll worry about Thursday Thursday.

Reina seems like a true doubt, which is weird because I can't remember the last match he missed due to injury. Seems like it almost has never happened. And hey, as long as Reading don't cross the ball Brad Jones should be somewhat ok, right?

As for midfield with Gerrard, we know Allen is going to be a cert in every league match and Thursday because it's at home, so just put that down in ink. Sahin is probably the more likely even though he didn't carry that brief glimpse of form over to the Stoke match. Shelvey is available again in the league, he could be another.

Liverpool catch a break in that they get to play a game at home against a team worse than them after internationals, which seems like it never happens. Reading are in what would be the relegation zone, not having won a match all season. Remember when we could laugh at such a thing and not sheepishly look at Pool's one win at this point in any season?

The worrying thing is that Reading have been better away from home this year so far, though it might not be reflected in points. They came right at Chelsea in the second week of the season, and were unfortunate to lose. They lost a tough one to WBA and beat QPR at Loftus Road in the League Cup. They drew with Swansea in Wales last time out. Whereas at home they were thumped by Spurs and got a draw against Newcastle. So marginally better. Whatever.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but Liverpool should score tomorrow. Reading haven't managed a clean sheet all season and have only held an opponent to less than two goals twice in all competitions. They will be something of a defensive challenge, as they've only failed to score once as well. Pavel Pogrebnyak has provided problems before, he's got two goals on the season.

I'm sorry, but any defense with Ian Harte in it by definition sucks. You have to make that count. Liverpool simply have to start winning at home now. Well, they had to start winning at home long ago. What it is now I don't even know.

This will also be your thread for the game.