Kenny’s back at Anfield – as manager – for the first time since he got his old job back. The opponents are Everton; it’s the derby and the world is watching.
Watching from closer quarters than usual are Liverpool’s new owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG, formerly NESV) who have seen a couple of games before now but are set to attend today’s game in force – with up to nine members of the consortium said in the director’s box.
The first game FSG attended as Liverpool owners was the Goodison derby earlier in the season. Having seen their side beaten at home to Blackpool in the last match before the takeover, Reds fans the world over were buoyant that the previous regime had been ousted, hopeful of a new, brighter future. And they expected some signs of that joy and hope to show itself on the pitch, for those in the Red shirt to be up for a game that nobody in that shirt should need any help getting up for.
As it was Liverpool played like Hicks and Gillett still owned the club and that administration was still inevitable, Everton beating a Reds side that looked like it wished it was somewhere else. And with one or two exceptions, that’s how Liverpool played up until last weekend’s decision to finally oust Roy Hodgson and bring Kenny Dalglish in as caretaker until the end of the season. That defeat means Everton are looking to achieve the unthinkable and do the double over the Reds. They’ve probably got the covers printed for the DVD already.
Kenny’s return has improved the mood at Anfield immeasurably – certainly something that will be visible from fans today as the hastily-planned flag day for Kenny brings extra colour to a fixture rarely lacking in colour.
A surprise in the line-up is Jay Spearing come back from injury to start what is always a bruising encounter, the youngster getting Poulsen’s place in midfield.
Martin Kelly put in such a good performance in midweek and last Sunday that it would have seemed unfair to leave him out and he gets a start. Glen Johnson starts at left-back in favour of Fabio Aurelio who is on the bench.
The highly-promising front-man Dani Pacheco is named amongst the subs, alongside Joe Cole who is still to live up the hype that surrounded his arrival in the summer.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Spearing, Meireles, Maxi, Torres, Kuyt
Subs: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Cole, Aurelio, Shelvey, Pacheco, Babel