10am EST, delayed in the US on FSC at 7pm. Weak -- a few days ago it was supposed to be on at Noon. Meanwhile, FSC’s website says that the Boro/City game will start at 6:30pm. So yeah…
Last 4 head-to-head:
2-2 (h) 10.07.07
1-0 Liverpool (a) 12.30.06
3-0 Liverpool (h) 09.23.06
1-0 Liverpool (h) 01.14.06
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 1-0 City (h); 2-3 Chelsea (a); 2-2 Brum (a)
Spurs: 1-0 Reading (a); 1-1 Bolton (h); 1-1 Wigan (a)
Liverpool: Torres 23; Gerrard 11; Crouch 5; Babel, Benayoun, Voronin 4; Kuyt 3; Alonso, Pennant 2; Aurelio, Hyypia, Mascherano, Sissoko 1
Spurs: Berbatov, Keane 15; Bent 6; Defoe, Jenas, Malbranque 4; Huddlestone, Kaboul 3; Bale, Chimbonda, Lennon 2; Dawson, Gardner, Gilberto, O’Hara 1
Referee: Uriah Rennie
Shockingly, Rennie’s been given the fewest fixtures of any Premiership referee this season (tied with Keith Stroud on six). This will be his last game in the Premier League, as he’s retiring due to age at the end of the season.
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Skrtel Insua
Kuyt Gerrard Babel
Even though it’s the last match of the season, with little to play for and the game likely to be representative of that (like last week’s home finale against City), I still think we’ll see a fairly strong side, if not what’s become Benitez’s “favored” XI.
Given that Torres is a goal away from breaking van Nistelrooy’s scoring record for a foreigner in a debut season (and two more would catch Adebayor for top scorer as a striker), he has to be a nailed-on starter. Similarly, Reina will have played in every minute of Premiership if he completes the game on Sunday, and has now won the golden gloves for most clean sheets (David James, one behind, looks set to miss Pompey’s match).
Meanwhile, I’m not sure how many reserves (including Lucas) will feature after winning the reserve championship on Wednesday. Hopefully Insua will, as Riise is expected to leave the club, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Norwegian receive one last bow (although the fact he didn’t get one at Anfield makes that somewhat doubtful). And honestly, despite the season he’s had, there’s no way one could argue Riise doesn’t deserve a final appearance if he is on his way out.
It could also be the last match for a few others. You’ve probably seen the rumors surrounding both Crouch and Pennant, while today brings “news” of Juventus' interest in Alonso. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again -- I’ll be stunned if Alonso departs (I definitely don’t want him to), and if he leaves, it’ll be of his own accord. But of the others mentioned, I have to believe at least one or two will exit.
Both Aurelio and Agger returned to training this week, but I’d be very surprised to see either risked.
On the official site today, Benitez made mention of dropping “silly points” in the reverse fixture at Anfield and little could be closer to the truth. In the lead after 13 minutes through Voronin, Liverpool gave up two identical Keane goals from long balls and Berbatov flicks on either side of halftime before Torres equalized in injury time. It wasn’t the first time Liverpool were susceptible to defensive miscues this season and it wouldn’t be the last.
Make no mistake, even with Berbatov seemingly on his way out he’ll still probably play, and Liverpool will still have to be wary of both his and Keane’s prowess in the box.
Spurs will look to close out the season on the right foot at home, even though they’ve seemingly mailed it in since winning the Carling Cup. Four out of their last five games have ended 1-1 (Blackburn, Boro, Wigan, Bolton) before beating Reading 1-0 last week, while Liverpool’s unbeaten in their last six in the league.
A win on Sunday would see Liverpool reach 76 points, their second-highest total under Benitez and an increase of eight points from last year’s mark, despite all the insanity surrounding the club. It’s not what we’d hoped for by any stretch of the imagination, but after Benitez’s exit looked possible in the fall and the dire league stretch throughout the winter, it’s not a bad outcome either. I’d imagine many fans will be happy to see the end of this campaign (I certainly will be), but it’s still imperative that it ends on the right note.