10 May 2014

Liverpool v Newcastle 05.11.14

10am ET, live in the US on NBC Sports

Last four head-to-head:
2-2 (a) 10.19.13
6-0 Liverpool (a) 04.27.13
1-1 (h) 11.04.12
0-2 Newcastle (a) 04.01.12

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-3 Palace (a); 0-2 Chelsea (h); 3-2 Norwich (a)
Newcastle: 3-0 Cardiff (h); 0-3 Arsenal (a); 1-2 Swansea (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Suarez 31; Sturridge 20; Gerrard 13; Sterling 9; Skrtel 7; Coutinho 5; Henderson 4; Agger, Allen, Flanagan, Moses, Sakho 1
Newcastle: Remy 14; Cabaye 7; Gouffran 6; Ben Arfa, Sissoko 3; Sh Ameobi, Cisse 2; Anita, Debuchy, Dummett, Taylor 1


Guess at a line-up:
Johnson Skrtel Sakho Flanagan
Henderson Allen
Sturridge Suarez

No matter what happens, at Anfield or any other ground, make no mistake. Tomorrow is a celebration, not a eulogy.

The odds of Liverpool lifting the Premier League trophy in a little more than 24 hours are on the wrong side of slim and none. Yes, partly due to last week's naive capitulation at Palace, partly due to an inability to break down a resilient Chelsea the week before, and partly due to a handful of regrettable incidents we can point to over the 35 previous game weeks. We will probably rue the missed opportunities all summer long.

So be it.

It's still been a phenomenal season that's surpassed all expectations. Tomorrow damn well should be a celebration.

There's really only one lineup question. Liverpool are playing the 4-4-2 diamond; Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Flanagan, Gerrard, Sterling, Sturridge, and Suarez seem certain starters. And Henderson, finally, belatedly, man-I-wish-he-had-been-available-for-the-last-three-matches, will return from suspension. So, who does he replace: Allen or Coutinho?

That Lucas started ahead of Coutinho at Palace – with Liverpool scoring three, including one from Allen – is probably a fairly big hint. Yes, that was away from Anfield. Yes, in the end, it ultimately didn't help, as Liverpool conceded three in the final 11 minutes. Allen's arguably in better form, Coutinho's arguably more of a help off the bench, with Liverpool wholly lacking in attacking substitutions (*glares at Moses, Aspas*). But maybe Coutinho gets the nod, at home against struggling opposition, where Liverpool will expect to monopolize possession and attack at will. Henderson and Coutinho utterly dominated midfield a year ago in the 6-0 win at Newcastle (even if Henderson ostensibly started on the left), with Coutinho providing throughball after throughball; the Brazilian was notably absent for this season's reverse fixture, ending 2-2 with Liverpool unable to put a man advantage to full use (*glares at Moses again*).

Well, maybe there are two lineup questions. There's also a slight possibility Agger comes in for Sakho, although I've said that for about a month now and still it hasn't happened. And, if he does, let's hope it's a "we've conceded nine goals in Sakho's last four starts and the last time we kept a clean sheet was the last time Agger started" change and not a "everybody say goodbye because Agger's probably getting sold" change. It better not be the latter.

Meanwhile, the Geordies have been on cruise control for nearly two months, all but guaranteed to finish somewhere between 8th and 10th since early March. And they subsequently lost six straight – five without scoring – before beating hapless Cardiff 3-0 at home last week. Newcastle have won just five of 18 matches since New Year's Day. Liverpool have won 14.

A week ago, Newcastle played 4-2-3-1, with Remy cutting in from the left: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Anita, Tiote; Sissoko, Gouffran, Remy; Ameobi. But Pardew could also choose to pack the midfield, bringing in Gosling for either Ameobi or Gouffran, or the defense, playing five at the back as he did in losses to Swansea and Stoke. I suspect it'll one of those two options – if forced to guess, probably the stronger midfield – in an attempt to nullify Liverpool's control of proceedings. Papiss Cisse and Davide Santon are out injured.

So here we are. The last game of an incredible season. The last game of the season, and it still means something. For the first time in a very long time. Liverpool are actually on television in the UK on Sky Sports 2, and are on one the main US stations, not relegated to Bravo or CNBC or one of the other spillover stations. On the last day of the season! The Premier League will have to bring a second Premier League trophy to Anfield *just in case*. Amazing.

Enjoy it, no matter what goes on in Manchester. Hopefully, there will be many more of these to come.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

You'll believe us now.

We're gonna win the league.

Andy Carroll. #/Legend.

Stewie you need to put yourself about. You may have fired in 5000 aimless crosses after you were blinded in both eyes by your own badassness. You may have shushed the Kop out of that mindless air-headedness. You may have blasted 500 wayward shots into the parking lot. You may have rocked that left back position like a sieve. But, today everything is changed. All is new again. Today you are going to own the back of Hart's net. Hat Trick, Stewie. You are the man. You and big Andy WILL run Vinny K ragged. I'm envisioning a 5 Nil thumping. City fans will love you for it. That Qatari World Cup manipulating Platini has already lightened them of that extra 50 million pounds. He has also promised to have Pep text Ibrahimovich to inform him that he will not be able to play in Europe next season. City fans are expecting a 5 Nil City drubbing tomorrow. Don't feel bad about it. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Own it.

I have it on good authority that LSD will crawl on his knees from Liverpool to London, beg your forgiveness for all those mean things he has said and the even meaner things he has thought and been too timid to say, and put you on his broad shoulders, and crawl back to Anfield for that heroes homecoming that you will so richly deserve. Heck, Trev has even promised to write an Epic Trilogy that will immortalize you in the History of the club. Think about it Stewie. Immortality. Few of us get this chance. Don't waste it.