KICKOFF: 4pm EST, 8pm BST (daylight savings is a bitch)
TV: ESPN 2
NO YOUR BLUENESS: Royal Blue Mersey
I can't decide if this is the worst or best possible time for the Derby at Anfield. There's a side of me that says this kind of occasion can snap Liverpool back into life, because if the Derby doesn't do it, what will? On the other side here, it seems like Liverpool only have things to lose, not win. Even a win would just be a win over a club that we don't consider the Reds biggest rival by a longshot, the league season is pretty much still shot, the questions will still remain, and I don't know that the stink of the last two weeks will wash away.
Then again, I know it will be a lot better than losing it. So let's not do that, eh?
My first concern is that Gerrard's fitness will allow him to slot into the starting lineup while launching Charlie Adam via cannon into the Irish Sea. With Henderson's youth I think you can get away with a three-man central midfield of Spearing-Gerrard-Henderson. However, with the tempestuous nature of these affairs, I wouldn't be shocked if Spearing is dropped to keep him from boiling over, which has happened before. Why Adam would be considered a cooler head is anyone's guess, but here we are. Or Henderson can't make two matches in four days, and would make way. Or he would be shunted out right again, where he's wasted.
My other plea is to forget the 4-2-2-2 which really hasn't worked all season, and please try and stick with a 4-3-3 with Andy Carroll spearheading the attack. I'm still a little miffed he got dropped after the Final when he was putting something of form together in favor of Dirk Kuyt who just doesn't provide much these days. And with Carroll, at least people were getting ahead of him into the box. He occupies defenders if nothing else. When Kuyt and Suarez lead the line, they both drop deep and no one gets into the box. I don't care who's the 3rd on the line, just as long as there is one.
We know Carragher will partner Skrtel this time, so everyone duck. Johnson probably doesn't make it back, so Martin Kelly probably continues to deputize.
As for Everton, this might not be the time to catch them. They haven't lost since Jan. 11th, though only one of those wins came away from Goodison. They pantsed Spurs at home on Saturday, with Jelavic scoring his first goal for the club with a very tidy finish.
There are some of the same dangers they've had for years, i.e. Cahill and Fellaini on set pieces. But now with Coleman and Drenthe scorching the touch lines, that's a worry too, especially with Enrique having a bit of a dip in form. More worrying for the red side is that Everton haven't given up more than a solitary goal in a match in this streak, with Neville-Heitinga-Distin-Baines being a pretty formidable back line. And Tim Howard is still capable of a delirious match.
The cliche is that form goes out the window with these matches, and I'd like to believe that. But I just don't. If Liverpool fluff a couple chances early, the same doubts and frustrations will creep back in, as well as Everton's bouncing confidence at the moment. And it always makes me queasy that these matches just mean more to Everton, because these are the dates they circle. Hasn't mattered much at Anfield, where Everton haven't won since 1999, but I still have that fear. Oh, and there's the little matter of the team might be playing to keep Moyes at Goodison, because it's starting to sound like he's genuinely looking for greener pastures. I'd take him as Liverpool boss in a heartbeat, but he'd never take the job and I know that.
Thanks to the shortened gap between matches, the Q&A I did with Royal Blue Mersey will be up in the morning before the match. There will be a gamethread, and I'll be on the twitter.