11am EST, live in the US on FSC
Last 4 head-to-head:
0-0 (a) 12.30.07
0-0 (a) 04.14.07
1-0 Liverpool (h) 11.25.06
1-0 Liverpool (h) 02.26.05
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-3 Chelsea (a); 2-2 Brum; 1-1 Chelsea (h)
City: 2-3 Fulham (h); 3-1 Pompey (h); 2-1 Sunderland (a)
Liverpool: Torres 22; Gerrard 11; Crouch 5; Babel, Benayoun, Voronin 4; Kuyt 3; Alonso, Pennant 2; Aurelio, Hyypia, Mascherano, Sissoko 1
City: Elano 7; Vassell 6; Petrov 5; Bianchi, Ireland 4; Benjani, Geovanni 3; Gelson, Johnson, Mpenza 2; Etuhu, Onuoha, Sturridge 1
Referee: Mark Halsey
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Hyypia Insua
Pennant Gerrard Babel
Torres and Skrtel both trained today after going off with injuries on Wednesday, but I’d still be surprised to see either start.
I’ve no desire to see an under-strength side, as in the last couple of league games or like the end of last season’s campaign, with Liverpool now out of the Champions League, but at the same time, some the young players need to be given a go, and key players like Torres and Skrtel shouldn’t be risked even though we’re so close to the summer.
First and foremost among the reserves, I sincerely hope we see Insua from the start. With Riise likely to leave and Aurelio injured, Insua has to be given games. He simply has to, even if Liverpool are looking to sign a left-back in the off-season (relatedly, yes, I saw the Barry article in the Echo and now BBC, but no, I’ve nothing new to say about it).
In addition, I’d hope to see Lucas or Plessis, or ideally both, in central midfield. The two played well as a unit in the reserves, and both look likely to see much more first team action next season. And it would be both Insua and Plessis' first game at Anfield. However, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see either Lucas or Plessis paired with Alonso, first because it’d be a sign that Xabi would be likely to be here next season, and second because he’s still playing his way back to form.
We also could see Mikel San Jose, who’s made the first team bench before this season, step into one of the center back spots. Maybe even Nemeth on the bench (hopefully), but I’ve been burned saying that in the last couple of previews.
But I hope to see established starters like Gerrard, Carragher, and Babel play as well.
For City, Richard Dunne should return from injury, but it’s most likely too soon for Micah Richards, Bojinov, or Garrido. Sven will most likely deploy a 4-5-1, as he has all season long, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they used Corluka to shadow Gerrard, as they did in the reverse fixture and similar to Makelele’s role in the CL semis.
There have been 4 goals scored in last six meetings between the sides, while the last two games have ended 0-0. With Liverpool playing out the season and City in some disarray following rumors of Sven’s sacking, there’s a good chance it’ll be another cagey display. But the opposite could easily happen: Liverpool looking to get back on the front foot after going out of Europe, while the City players try to save Eriksson’s job.
With fourth place assured, we’re all well aware that Liverpool’s pretty much just playing for pride. But pride can still be an excellent motivator, while some in the squad, both young and established, are playing for a place in the side next season. Plus, this is the last game at Anfield for the season, and I'd hope the team send the fans away happy.
These two games do matter. Not as much as we hoped at the beginning of the season, but they matter nonetheless. It’s crucial Liverpool end this troublesome season on as high a note as possible.