It's back to the League Cup for Liverpool just three days after their draw with Everton, where they'll look to advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Brendan Rodgers' former club at Anfield.
The disappointment from the draw on Sunday doesn't have too much time to linger, and neither will any result--positive or negative--for the next month and a half. The win over Reading kicked off a stretch that will see Liverpool play 15 matches in a little under two months, and they won't have a full week's rest until the break between the home dates with Aston Villa and Fulham in league in mid-December. That's a huge ask of such a small squad, and it's one that will demand that Brendan Rodgers use just about every able-bodied squad member at one point or another.
For some it's led to hopes that tomorrow produces promise but ultimately one less commitment; I haven't seen anyone overtly calling for a loss, but there's the inference that Liverpool would be better off without the League Cup on their plate at this point. I'm not sure that I'm quite there yet, but if there's anymore fitness issues come mid- to late-November, Liverpool are going to be struggling to keep their heads above water on more than one front.
Tomorrow isn't necessarily a match that Liverpool will expect to win easily, though, and if the squad Rodgers selects isn't invested, Swansea are more than capable of getting the result. They've been a little up and down under new manager Michael Laudrup, starting the season in superb form but stumbling through September with three losses and a draw in league. They've scored three apiece in each of their two League Cup wins so far, first over Barnsley in a 3-1 victory and next away to Crawley Town, where they got an injury time winner from Garry Monk to win 3-2.
Laudrup won't have Michel Vorm tomorrow after the goalkeeper suffered a groin injury against Manchester City, but Gerhard Tremmel's started both League Cup matches to this point and would have likely started tomorrow anyway, and Angel Rangel will serve a one-match ban for receiving his fifth yellow card in the loss. The new manager has opted for a mix of regular starters and backups so far, with Michu, Nathan Dyer, Danny Graham, Wayne Routledge, and Leon Britton, each of whom have started most of Swansea's league matches, getting a start in one or both of the League Cup victories.
Flanagan Carragher Coates Robinson
Downing Yesil Assaidi
We know that Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson are ruled out from comments Mike Marsh made earlier in the day, and they'll join Lucas, Martin Kelly, and Fabio Borini as confirmed absences. Marsh also alluded to a rest for a few other first-team regulars, so the easy money is that Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will be left out, with breaks likely for Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, and Nuri Sahin, among others.
Brad Jones was a little skittish against Everton, which is to be expected, and with injuries to Reina and Peter Gulacsi, he'll have a chance to settle back in. This would be a great match for Gulacsi to get some time, but with the young Hungarian left out of the derby squad, I doubt he's ready to go. Hopefully Jon Flanagan's back to fitness, as there's few other options available on the right, and this one's made for Jack Robinson to get a start. Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates should partner centrally after Agger and Skrtel took up what would otherwise be the second-choice pairing's minutes against Anzhi.
With Gerrard and Sahin likely to be rested, Joe Allen will probably get a chance to feature against his former side, and he'll do so alongside Jordan Henderson and Jonjo Shelvey. Both of the young English midfielders came on in substitute roles against Everton but should get starts here; there's a chance Suso drops back into the midfield after coming off at halftime at Goodison, and if he does that, Allen should be the one to make way.
I suppose Suso could also feature on the wing again, although in light of Brendan Rodgers' assertions that Stewart Downing will play a role in the squad, it seems more likely that he'll start on the flank opposite Oussama Assaidi. And there aren't really any other options than Samed Yesil unless Rodgers opts to go without a true striker, which he did in the win at Young Boys back with Dani Pacheco, Downing, Assaidi, and Suso sharing the attacking responsibilities.
The further in the competition Liverpool gets, the more minutes the fringe players will see, and in the case of a handful--Coates, Assaidi, Henderson, Shelvey, and Yesil especially--it's a mandatory prep time for first-team cover. In the case of each, one injury separates them from significant first-team minutes, and while there's an argument to be made that four of the five are ready for roles in the starting eleven, Liverpool's young German international will need minutes that matter if he's going to be able to spell Luis Suarez from striking duties over the crowded November and December months.
Tomorrow night's kickoff is set for 8:00PM GMT/4:00PM EST, and at the current time there's no listing for viewing options in the US or the UK. I'm sure something will pop up as the start time approaches, and if you're in a location with a confirmed broadcast (that's legal), please let us know and we'll be sure to include it in the matchday thread. We'll have team sheets included there around an hour or so before the match gets going, and we'll be around in the comments and on Twitter if you want to catch up.
Hope you're having a good start to the week, and that those of you or your loved ones affected by Hurricane Sandy in some way are safe and sound.