11 May 2007

Liverpool v Charlton 05.13.07

10am. Chances are the only opportunity to see this in entirety on US television will be Tuesday at 4pm on GolTV, which carries LiverpoolTV. GolTv is carried on ITVN, and a few digital cable packages I believe.

Liverpool: 3rd place; 67 points out of 37 games
Charlton: 19th place; 33 points out of 37 games

Last 3 meetings:
3-0 Liverpool (a) 12.16.06
0-0 (h) 03.04.06
2-0 Charlton (a) 02.08.06
2-1 Liverpool (a) 02.01.05

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 0-1 Fulham (a); 1-0 Chelsea (h); 1-2 Portsmouth (a)
Charlton: 0-2 Tottenham (h); 1-4 Blackburn (a); 1-1 Sheffield (h)

Goalscorers (league; more than one goal):
Liverpool: Kuyt 12; Crouch 9; Bellamy, Gerrard 7; Alonso, Fowler, Garcia 3; Agger, Gonzalez, Hyypia 2
Charlton: Bent 12; Ambrose, El Karkouri, Thomas 3; Hasselbaink, Reid 2

Referee: Dermot Gallagher

Guess at a squad:
Finnan Carragher Agger Riise
Pennant Gerrard Mascherano Kewell
Kuyt Fowler

The actual line-up may not be this strong, but it will not be like the last two league outings. Pay no mind to the fact that Charlton’s already relegated; there are still 10 days until the final, and Rafa will not want players to lose match fitness. If those like Gerrard, Carragher, and Kuyt don’t start, Athens will be their first game in 3 weeks. And not to rub salt in any wounds, but I’m glad that if Charlton had to be relegated, it was academic before this game. Hopefully we won’t see anyone charging into tackles and running around like madman as we did Monday.

The only real “back-ups” I’d like to see are Dudek and Fowler, as both will probably be playing their last game in a Liverpool shirt (although Fowler has a shout to make the bench in Athens). I still hold Jerzy’s poor performances this season against him – the Carling Cup match against Arsenal sticks out the most – but his comments over the past couple of weeks have not only softened my stance but made me want to see him amble towards the Kop clapping one last time. Unfortunately, news today from the official site casts some doubt on Dudek due on injury, but there’s always hope.

Fowler may very well come on as sub instead of starting; we’ve seen over the last two league games that he had trouble performing for the full 90 minutes, and hasn’t even shown the sharpness in front of goal that was on display last season. Either way, Robbie will certainly show up at some point to say goodbye to the Kop, unlike when Houllier forced him out in the dead of night to Leeds.

It’s also worth giving Kewell a start if Benitez holds any thoughts about actually giving Harry a run out in Athens. This is becoming a tricky subject to bring up, with Harry trying to be fit in order to limp off from his third straight final (I know, I know, but it’s too easy of a joke), and I’m happy to hold off criticism until Kewell sees some sustained actions, which he should on Sunday. I’ve said for a while now that Liverpool missed Kewell quite a bit this season, and I sincerely do hope that Harry proves it.

Even though Liverpool looked to get out of Fulham without any injuries, post-match Rafa revealed knocks to Reina, Gonzalez, Sissoko, and Arbeloa, and for that reason, I’m not expecting to see them on Saturday.

Charlton will be missing Scott Carson, who’s unable to start due to loan conditions, but otherwise, they’ll have a fairly full squad. And Pardew should have them pumped up for their last game in the Premiership for at least a year. But without them still fighting for survival, the game won’t be as hectic as it could have been, which certainly benefits Liverpool. I will also have my eye on Darren Bent. I hate mentioning transfer gossip, because it is just gossip, but with Liverpool always in the market for a striker and Bent probably being good value for money due to Charlton's relegation, it's something to watch.

So this is it. The last game of the league, and I’m hoping for no injuries, and a warm sendoff for a couple of players. Oh, and sealing third place in the Premiership. That’s somewhat disappointing given the quality in the team, but this league campaign was wrapped up ages ago. It truly is all about keeping players healthy for Athens, and then securing 3rd place.

So let’s see it done.


Anonymous said...

I gotta say, I'm not real interested in Darren Bent. I understand he's young, but I view him as a poor man's version of a pre-knee injury Michael Owen -- but with less of a knack for goal-scoring and a bit more pace.

Looks like Rafa is bringing in a 20-year old Brazilian wonderkid midfielder this summer who is expected to challenge for playing time. While I'm glad to see collection of talented youth continue, one has to wonder when do we reach a saturation point in the center of midfield?

nate said...

Ha, I was writing about Lucas as you posted this comment.

I pretty much agree with your view of Bent, but he's still got a goal-scoring knack, and may represent the kind of bargain + blend of experience Rafa goes for.

I don't necessarily think it'll happen, it's just one of the few things that I'm willing to even voice speculation on.