18 May 2013

Liverpool v QPR 05.19.13

11am ET, not live on the US. Live on Fox Soccer 2Go, and delayed at 6:30pm ET on FSC.

Last season, Fox televised every match on the final day other than the one on espn2. There were matches on Speed, on Fuel TV, on pretty much every cable station Fox owned. This season? Nothing extra; just the standard three televised matches. Because what the fans want isn't worth shit now that Fox lost the PL contract. Good riddance, you terrible, terrible network.

Last four head-to-head:
3-0 Liverpool (a) 12.30.12
2-3 QPR (a) 03.21.12
1-0 Liverpool (h) 12.10.11
2-1 Liverpool (a) 02.11.96

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-1 Fulham (a); 0-0 Everton (h); 6-0 Newcastle (a)
QPR: 1-2 Newcastle (h); 0-1 Arsenal (h); 0-0 Reading (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 23; Sturridge 10; Gerrard 9; Henderson 5; Agger, Downing 3; Coutinho, Enrique, Skrtel, Sterling 2; Borini, Cole, Johnson, Şahin 1
QPR: Remy 6; Taarabt 5; Zamora 4; Cisse 3; Jenas, Mackie, Townsend 2; Bothroyd, Granero, Hoilett, Nelsen, Wright-Phillips 1

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Skrtel Carragher Enrique
Henderson Lucas
Downing Coutinho Shelvey

All's well that ends?

As has seemingly been written around this time in each of the last four years, it's been a long season. At least, in comparison to the previous campaign, it's gotten better as the season's gone on. There has been obvious progression, especially after Sturridge and Coutinho joined the club. Is that enough to make up for the lack of trophies, last season's sole consolation?

Tomorrow's focus will rightfully be on Jamie Carragher, who'll captain the side in his 737th appearance for Liverpool, 508th in the Premier League. His final appearance for Liverpool. When Carragher hangs up his boots, he'll have played in 81.8% of the 901 Liverpool games since he made his debut against Middlesbrough in January 1997. All the tributes the club have planned for tomorrow, all the fully deserved complimentary articles featured on the official site don't come close to encapsulating what Carragher's meant to this club, what Carragher's done for this club. It's imperative he's sent off with the best possible result, and "imperative" isn't a word I use lightly.

Otherwise, the major question is whether we'll see more experimentation. Last week's 3-6-1 trial worked and didn't work; Liverpool were far better when reverting to the more familiar 4-2-3-1 but the benefit was in the experiment, as well as in playing time for the likes of Coates and Wisdom.

Even with little to play for other than pride, I expect there will be fewer changes tomorrow, both in tactics and personnel. Skrtel should return from illness, partnering Carragher in central defense. If Liverpool play three at the back again, I suspect Coates will make way, with the more versatile Wisdom as one of the outside center-backs and Skrtel as the sweeper, but I still don't think that formation's likely. I also wouldn't be opposed to Wisdom starting in place of Glen Johnson, who – more than any other player – has shown the effects of the long season.

One of Henderson, Shelvey, and Borini will probably be the odd man out in attack. Both Henderson and Shelvey can play in central midfield or on the flanks, while Borini's finding his way back to fitness. I suspect that it'll be as Liverpool started the second half against Fulham, with Henderson in a deeper role and Shelvey deployed on the left but often cutting inside. But Henderson and Shelvey's versatility could allow them to switch roles, or one could be left out so the returning Borini can receive more playing time after spending the majority of the season injured.

Otherwise, no matter any experimentation, Reina will play, Lucas will play, Coutinho will play, Sturridge will play. Both Downing and Enrique – along with Henderson, two of Rodgers' greatest man-management successes this season – should play. Even in the last match of the season, the lineup still very much writes itself, especially in certain positions.

As for QPR, we'll start with this, as it's still incredibly hilarious.

Not quite.

QPR have won four league matches under Redknapp of the 24 played, and have never been higher than 19th in the table. They'd need to win tomorrow with Reading also losing to West Ham to get out of 20th position. And they're winless in their last eight, with two draws and six losses, further evidence of the overpaid and overhyped side's inability to even pretend at staying in this league. This mercenary side deserves to finish rock bottom.

Julio Cesar, Chris Samba, and Shaun Wright-Phillips will miss tomorrow's match through injury. You'd think Loic Remy also wouldn't play after being arrested on suspicion of rape earlier in the week, but QPR have announced that he's available for selection.

Which means tomorrow's XI will most likely be Green; Boswinga, Onouha, Hill, Traore; Townsend, Jenas, Mbia, Taarabt; Remy, Zamora. But it's not as if Redknapp's wanting for options; Hoilett, Mackie, Granero, Park, and Fabio, among others, have all proven (at least in previous campaigns) that they're decent footballers. Which makes QPR's plight all the more egregious. And all the more hilarious.

I had hoped that QPR would stave off relegation until the final day. It'd have been throughly enjoyable had it been Liverpool who got to swing the sword of Damocles. Still, we'll have to make due with sending Jamie Carragher out in some style, in front of a grateful Anfield appreciative of his 23-year tenure with the club, and appreciative of the small, tentative strides that Liverpool have made over the course of the season.


Wet Celery said...

I realize that Downing will probably play despite my opposition, but let me say that I don't see any reason for him to see the field. We know what we are going to get from him next season, a good depth player who starts the odd game here and there. Why not give Borini a game as he has much more to prove, and quite frankly, he's a player I like quite a bit more than Downing even with such limited appearances. Or maybe I should say that I am rooting for Borini to succeed; either way he should start in my estimation.

nate said...

It defies all expectation, but LFC have been better with Downing providing balance on the right over the last few months.

I completely understand what you're saying, and if there's any time to try Borini on the right in Downing's role, it's tomorrow's match, but Downing truly has improved over the latter half of the season, and LFC's attack has improved accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Taarabt is out for the hoops!

nate said...

For sure? I read that he might miss out due to death of his grandmother, but none of the articles I saw seemed sure, so I didn't mention. Also, forgot to mention.

Wet Celery said...

I know what you mean, which is why I will "allow" Downing to stay on for next season. But I think we can both agree that he isn't long for the starting 11, which is why I don't see the point of keeping him there now. We could instead try something that has the potential to be better while we wait for his upgrade in the summer. Failing an upgrade, I think Borini can do Downing's job but with more goal threat, which we will need for our top 4 hopes. I suppose I'm holding out hope that Borini will be a similar player to Kuyt, who I love.

Anonymous said...

Last game for Carra and Skrtel? I honestly cannot see him being part of Roger's plans, if there was any time for him to cement himself in a team it was this year. But he hasn't and let a guy who is retiring tomorrow take his place (taking nothing away from what Carra has done for te club).