09 May 2008

Liverpool at Tottenham 05.11.08

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)

Goalscorers (league):
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
Alonso Mascherano
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.


Mike Georger said...

interesting question now is who is going to get the 6 and 7 numbers now that riise and kewell are gone?

obviously barry gets six if he comes in. but if not i say let masche have it if he wants it, and let babel have seven

Ace Cowboy said...

One last season preview, eh? Great job all year, Nate. Pleasure reading your pre-gamers and post-matchers.

Let's go out on a high note.

nate said...

A bit presumptuous there, eh Georger?

I've made my feelings on Barry known, albeit mainly in comments, but the clearer it becomes that he's Rafa's #1 target, the more okay I am with it.

Plus, Martin O'Neill (who I truly do have ages of time for as a manager) is about to flip his shit. He seems scared out of his gourd he's going to lose his captain. Which, given my sick sense of humor and overall capacity for schadenfreude makes it even more delicious.

“Even Rafa said perhaps his English is not clear - well my English is pretty clear. I didn’t get A-Level English studying Thomas Hardy for nothing and it is pretty clear and used in the correct grammatical sense.”


Classy way to take a cheap shot at a foreigner manager who's won more than O'Neill can even dream of.

As said further down that RAWK thread, last I checked, you don't use double negatives in proper English.

nate said...

the RAWK thread linked above has already been merged with the existing barry thread (those RAWK mods are always on the ball)

is the post I'm referring to

Mike Georger said...

what, presumptuous that he gets six? if he were to come in thered be no doubt, hes worn it at villa for a while and riise is obviously leaving. and kewell has all but been released at this point

whats proper english for 'way to lose at home to wigan and cost yourself fifth place'?

nate said...

Presumptuous in that, for all the amusement of the chase, it still remains to be seen that Liverpool will actually get Barry, especially given O'Neill's rants and Lerner's checkbook.

If the player wants to come, Villa will probably be strong-armed into selling, but you know me, Georger, I don't fully believe transfers until there's a signature on the contract and the player parading around Anfield with a scarf aloft.

Aravind said...

Barry coming in, and linking well with Gerrard will be good for England..
Btw, bye bye Uriah Rennie