Joe Allen's going to have to be the man in Liverpool's holding role for a while.
Noel Chomyn, manager over at SBNation's Liverpool Offside blog, was gracious enough to take the time to answer five questions ahead of tomorrow's league match against the Reds. We'll have all his answers for you after the jump, and also, don't forget to take a trip over to The Liverpool Offside for all of your Liverpool needs!
Onto the questions!
1. What are your feelings on Brendan Rodgers so far? Is he an improvement on late-period Kenny Dalglish, or is it too early to tell?
We're huge fans of his approach. At least in theory. In practice it's far too early to tell and the start of the season's been a bit of a mixed bag. Still, as much as we were inordinately fond of Kenny Dalglish because, well, he was Kenny Dalglish, it can't be claimed that his first full season back in charge was anything but a complete disaster in the league by the time it ended. There was no plan being worked towards, no cohesive foundation being laid—at least not one likely to lead anywhere most would have wanted to go were they not caught up with being sentimental—and worst of all, the seeds of failure had been clear from before the 2011-12 season started for anyone who cared to look.
Now at least there appears a plan most can embrace; an ideal for the club to strive towards. We're all nervous and uncertain and embarrassingly schizophrenic because that's what we do best, and for every positive moment there's a depressing reminder of all that went wrong last year, but things are at least starting to look up. Sort of. Except for when they aren't.
Well there's Luis Suarez, who will be all kinds of awesome (expect the one related to finishing) along the way to pissing off lots of opposition fans. And we'll play a 4-3-3. But beyond that nobody really has a clue.
Because after Suarez we've got Fabio Borini, who had a decent season for Roma last year and is supposed to be something of a poacher—something we desperately need—but at 21 years of age nobody's quite sure if he's ready to step in and help lead a side back into the top four. And because next on the list after him might be Oussama Assaidi, who scored a lot in the Eredivisie, came cheap, and hasn't played a minute for Liverpool yet. Unless next on the list is 17-year-old Raheem Sterling, who is 17-years old.
3. One player that Arsenal were on the cusp of bringing to London was Nuri Sahin, who ended up at Anfield instead last week. How excited are you for his arrival, and how do you see him fitting in with Gerrard, Henderson, et al.?
Moderately? No doubt he's a fantastic talent, or at least he was for Dortmund, but that he's only arriving on loan makes it hard to feel any great excitement. He should fit in with Rodgers' approach, though—though given how little he's played at Madrid and the change of leagues that might take some time—and it's hard to argue that he doesn't make Liverpool a better side. In fact, if he's ready he probably walks into a midfield trio alongside Joe Allen and Gerrard against Arsenal. Still, if the excitement of Sahin arriving on a permanent move would have been somewhere up there, then his arrival on loan is just, you know, mostly kind of nice and stuff.
4. Speaking of Sahin, Lucas suffered another unfortunate long-term injury last week. He's a wonderful player when fit; how do you see LFC coping with his absence until December?
With Lucas out, Joe Allen becomes the the club's primary holding player for the next few months, and the early returns are at least promising. He's not in the same league as Lucas—or at least the Lucas who made Yaya Toure look like a pub player back in the autumn of 2011—but nobody in England right now is, and Allen does read the game well, is positionally responsible, and will steal the ball off more than a few opponents before they know he's there.
5. And finally, do you have a prediction for Sunday's match?
Arsene Wenger will complain about a great injustice.
Thanks again to Noel, and here's to a good match tomorrow!