Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish brought the smiles back to Anfield when he came back as manager last month – but a bombshell dropped by a striker seen as a hero nearly wiped that smile back off again.
That striker no longer plays for Liverpool, his image removed from the back of the Kop earlier today as the Reds continue their journey into a new era. Lots of records were broken on the last day of the transfer window, the two that matter are the two that brought Liverpool a new number 7 and a new number 9.
That new number 9 is Andy Carroll, the £35m acquisition from Newcastle. He’s not ready to play yet, due to an injury he brought with him, but he’s going to be paraded on the pitch ahead of kick off. It’s not every home game you’ve got a club record signing, the most expensive British player in history, to show off to your supporters.
The new number 7 was also a record signing for the club, but only until the Carroll signing was complete. Luis Suarez is wearing the shirt Kenny gave him, Kenny’s old number, and will be welcomed onto the field for his debut. He needed a work permit and international clearance, all of which came through in time for Kenny to get him into his squad. He’s on the bench tonight.
Another player back in the squad is Jamie Carragher, returning from a dislocated shoulder and set to make his first appearance since the departure of Roy Hodgson. He’s also amongst the subs tonight.
Carragher and Suarez both lack match fitness – Suarez was serving a 7-game suspension in Holland before signing from Ajax – but Suarez is almost certain to feature at some point, with Carra likely to get some time on the pitch if the manager feels it’s appropriate.
What remains to be seen is exactly how the team lines up. Any number of formations are possible with the players named as the first eleven; it’s not even clear how many will be starting at the back.
Martin Kelly and Glen Johnson have played right back and left back respectively in recent games, but there’s a possibility that Johnson will be starting in a more advanced role tonight.
It’s also possible that Kenny has decided to go with three centre-backs – Soto, Skrtel and Agger all start – with Kelly and Johnson playing as wing-backs and Aurelio playing in a central midfield role.
In the absence of either of the two new strikers from the start, the manager has started with Kuyt, with Gerrard likely to start just behind.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Lucas, Meireles, Aurelio, Gerrard, Kuyt
Subs: Gulacsi, Carragher, Poulsen, Shelvey, Suarez, Maxi, Ngog