08 May 2010

Liverpool at Hull 05.09.10

11am ET, not on TV in the US. Don’t even think it’s delayed anywhere, which doesn’t bode well for streams tomorrow. RAWK and Twitter are usually helpful, but your best bets are probably MyP2P.eu and Empire of the Kop

Last 4 head-to-head:
6-1 Liverpool (h) 09.26.09
3-1 Liverpool (a) 04.25.09
2-2 (h) 12.13.08
4-2 Liverpool (h; League Cup) 09.21.99

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 0-2 Chelsea (h); 2-1 Atletico aet (h); 4-0 Burnley (a)
Hull: 2-2 Wigan (a); 0-1 Sunderland (h); 0-2 Villa (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 18; Gerrard, Kuyt 9; Benayoun 6; Ngog 5; Babel 4; Johnson 3; Aquilani, Kyrgiakos, Maxi, Skrtel 1
Hull: Hunt 6; Bullard 5; Geovanni, Vennegoor of Hesselink 3; Fagan, Folan, Zayette 2; Altidore, Atkinson, Boateng, Cairney, Cullen, Dawson, Ghilas, Kilbane, Marney, Mouyokolo, Olofinjana 1

Referee: Andre Marriner

Guess at a squad:
Mascherano Carragher Ayala Agger
Gerrard Lucas
Benayoun Aquilani Babel

It’s almost over. Finally.

I again apologize for the extended silence, but there’s been little to do but speculatively worry about the future. A moot game is actually a welcome distraction, especially if it carries the bonus of seeing some youth players. Getting time for the likes of Ayala and possibly others, as well as keeping a clean sheet so Reina ends the season with the most in the league, is all I really want to see out of tomorrow.

Unsurprisingly, more injuries will impact the starting line-up. Maxi and Carragher went off last weekend, with Carragher’s twisted ankle less likely to keep him out than Maxi’s thigh problem. At the same time, both Johnson and Ngog are carrying knocks which could preclude their participation; I especially doubt Johnson will play with the World Cup imminent.

Were Ngog fit – and honestly, I haven’t seen any new news on that front – I’d guess him up top with Kuyt on the right. But there are few other spearheads than Dirk if the young Frenchman’s missing. It’d also allowed both Benayoun and Babel to start on the flanks. While I’d be thrilled to see Pacheco start, I doubt it’s likely. He plays the same position as Aquilani, and I don’t think the Spaniard can or will start on the flanks. But I’ll be thoroughly annoyed if he doesn’t come off the bench.

And if I could suggest someone other than Masch at right back, I would. But Johnson’s injury lingers, Kelly’s out, and Degen’s Degen. That it’s Hull and the last game of the season may make Degen more likely (in what would probably be his last match for the club), but I’d still rather Mascherano play there instead, especially since it’d allow Gerrard, Lucas, and Aquilani to all start as well.

Thanks to Georger for the heads-up that Under-18s left-back Jack Robinson will be on the bench, hopefully joined by Pacheco and possibly Amoo. The fullback crisis and that it’s the last game of the season are why young Robinson’s making the bench, but I’m thrilled none the less. He’s been highly-touted in the Academy, and has been earning rave reviews for nearly 2 years now. In November 2008, The Times speculated he’d be a member of the 2018 World Cup – the youngest forecasted starter, no less. Were he to play, he’d be Liverpool’s youngest debutant, beating that Taffy Judas Midget Manc.

Hull, already relegated, will look to save a little face by going out of the Premiership with a bang. And caretaker manager (or whatever his title is) Iain Dowie will be looking to keep his job next season. Folan and Bullard are injured, in addition to long-term casualties Zayette, Ashbee, Garcia, and Hunt. US striker Jozy Altidore remains suspended for the rest of the season after hilariously head-butting Alan Hutton two weeks ago. Rightly, Hull will continue to give young players like Atkinson and Cullen a look-in, which hopefully will be mirrored by Liverpool including the likes of Ayala and Pacheco – or even Robinson – at least at some point.

The last game of the season is usually played at friendly pace, and I doubt this’ll be much different. It’s been a long, disappointing season that every player (and fan) will be glad to see the back of. At best, Liverpool can finish sixth, and only if Villa lose to Blackburn while Liverpool beat Hull, which would push the Europa League campaign forward a few much-needed weeks, the difference between starting in July and August. That, coupled with some pride, will hopefully be enough motivation.

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