Friday, September 12, 2008

Gerrard, Torres Ready to Return for
Liverpool against Manchester United

Yes Manchester United fans, you will have Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to kick around tomorrow when Liverpool hosts United at Anfield.

Gerrard, fresh off of groin surgery, and Torres, recovering from a hamstring ding, have been cleared in anticipation of tomorrow's derby. That clamor you hear are the Mercysiders jigging themselves silly.

Gerrard's return is an eye-opener. He was expected to miss this game and the Reds' Champions League opener this week. It will be interesting to see how much he plays against United. Expect him to start; whether he finishes is another story.

Rafa Benitez will have a full side against United with the Reds atop the table with Chelsea.

"[Gerrard and Torres] came through a full training session this morning. It wasn't a very hard session, but they will both be in the squad. It's important for us to have these two players of quality who can change a game. I'm not surprised they are available because the medical staff have done a good job and the players have been working really hard with the physios to get fit."

Not to fall into the trap of over-hyping games in September, but this is a big one (duh). United has four points from two matches, and dropping three more tomorrow won't be good for its overall title hopes, and may indeed rush Cristiano Ronaldo back from the sidelines. Sir Alex Ferguson says Ronaldo is fit and will return for this week's home Champions League match against Villareal at Old Trafford. Like Gerrard, Ronaldo's recovery is ahead of schedule.

Liverpool needs to win if it's going to snap its Premier League title drought. With Chelsea having beefed up, the Blues may be the bigger target this season. But there's something to be said for moral, emotional victories. United are a big hurdle for Liverpool, one that needs to be leapt at home.

With United certainly slumping out of the gate, this might be a likely outcome. The difference may rest on the bench, not where Gerrard and/or Torres may be sitting, but in Benitez. The Liverpool boss isn't the best game-day guy in the Premier League, and in a close match, how he moves the chess pieces may dictate the outcome.

1 comment:

nate said...

As much as Liverpool's needed Ste and Torres, and as much as Liverpool needs a bloody win over United in the league, part of me really hopes neither is rushed back.

I can't help remember last season against the Arse when both Torres and Alonso were rushed back, and even though Liverpool got the draw, both players were off the pace and ended up missing more time. That's the last thing Liverpool needs this season.

Thanks for the links, Starting11