Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stopping to catch our collective Scouse breath

With Alonso's foot, Insua's international break and Gerrard's legal wranglings all as settled as can be for now, next up on the docket is something Liverpool fans haven't been able to think about since last year: Premier League football.

Away to Stoke on Saturday. Honestly, if Liverpool comes out flat at all or appears unprepared, they need re-evaluating. The home draw to Stoke was the first alarm bell of the season. If this bunch is taking itself and this title chase seriously, they should boss this sucker on Saturday from pillar to post. My only concern is Alonso, as the midfield tends to get a little edgy and off-kilter at times when inferior opponents stretch five across and start badgering and bullying whoever's on the ball for the Reds. My guess is Alonso sits and Lucas joins Mascherano in front of the back four. Even in his inexperience, Lucas has too much quality for Stoke. He just needs the self-belief.

Then there's Stevie, who should do fine. Torres is back, Kuyt and Riera – it just looks a well-rested Liverpool side that has all the needed motivation to handle this one. I'm excited for it and hope my mid-week view holds up come Saturday.

Also, United hosts Chelsea on Sunday. Meh ... no, I kid. Here's hoping for a scoreless draw. Or, dare I say it, a Chelsea away win. Does that actually serve Liverpool's interests right now?

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