May 19th, 2013; 16:00 GMT
It is going to be emotional afternoon at Merseyside this weekend as Liverpool host QPR. As the curtains to this Premier League season draw to a close, one of Liverpool’s greatest stalwarts bids adieu to the beautiful game and to the club he has been loyal to for 16 years. As the two sides line up outside the tunnel for the guard of honor as a mark of respect for Carragher’s endless contribution as player and leader, the league positions for these two sides are pretty much sealed for this year.
Liverpool will remain seventh no matter the result of this game but will look to end the season on a high under the new manager. It has been a topsy-turvy campaign for Liverpool, with unexpected draws and results’ failing to vindicate the style of football Rodgers is trying to preach at the club. Nonetheless, the Reds have been in a decent run of form, being unbeaten in their last seven games. A win against QPR on Sunday will no doubt be the cherry on the cake; also, a fitting farewell to the great Jamie Carragher.
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes splashed a lot of cash this season to bring in some sort of heartbeat to the club to help them sustain Premier League status. But here we are, at the end of the season, and QPR have won just four games this entire year and find themselves at the disturbing bottom of the league table. A loss against Liverpool will confirm a 20th spot and an end to a forgettable campaign for the team from Loftus Road.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Brendan Rodgers will be omitting Captain Steven Gerrard from this game after the No.8 underwent a shoulder injury last week. But irrespective of his presence or absence for this game, it will be Jamie Carragher wearing the captain’s armband against QPR. Luis Suarez will be serving his fourth game ban out of his ten-match suspension.
Centre-back Daniel Agger is ruled out due to a back problem while Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling and Martin Kelly continue to be sidelined till pre-season at the least. Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel could make his return to the first team to accompany Jamie Carragher at the back after missing last week’s game against Fulham due to illness.
Liverpool will come out all guns blazing against QPR in this game. Expect a flurry of attacks from the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Downing right from the start. The idea will be to subdue QPR right in the beginning and take the game away from them before they can even get their act together.
Expect a four-man defence this week as compared to the three-man line-up last week against Fulham. Carragher and Skrtel will take charge at center while Andre Wisdom and Jose Enrique could start at right and left-back respectively.
The midfield is unlikely to change – with Henderson on the right, Lucas in the center and Shelvey deployed around the left space. Up ahead, it will be Coutinho, Sturridge and Downing who’ll take charge of splitting the QPR defense. Daniel Sturridge has been in a good run of form since taking over the responsibility from Suarez and will be looking to increasing his goal tally in this game.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-3-3): Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique; Henderson, Lucas, Shelvey; Coutinho, Sturridge, Downing
Harry Redknapp has a lot to ponder if he wants to get three points at Anfield this weekend. One of his key winter signings, Loic Remy was arrested on suspicion of rape which puts him out of contention for the starting XI.
On the injury front, Redknapp is still missing the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips, DJ Campbell, Christopher Samba and Adel Taarabt while first-choice keeper Julio Cesar remains doubtful for this fixture, allowing Robert Green to fill in for the Brazilian.
Apart from former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse coming in, in place of Loic Remy, expect an unchanged squad by Redknapp for this fixture. Midfielders Jermaine Jenas and Stephane Mbia will be the key players to deliver for QPR against Liverpool. Jenas’ experience coupled with Mbia’s strength will be the linking factor between attack and defence.
Up ahead, the pairing of Cisse and Zamora could cause some problems to the Liverpool backline since both are differently styled players – Cisse likes to move around with the ball and beat defenders before taking a shot on goal while Zamora can be difficult due to his bulky presence and strength in the air. It is likely that Carragher will be lined up against the fellow England international. If QPR are to give themselves any chance of a win or even a draw, it is vital that both these attackers are fed through the right channels.
Probable Starting Line-Up (4-4-2): Green; Bosingwa, Hill, Onuoha, Traore; Townsend, Jenas, Mbia, Hoilett; Cisse, Zamora
- The Reds are undefeated against QPR at Anfield in the Premier League (W4, D1). Indeed Liverpool have won 18 of the 21 league meetings on home soil (D2, L1).
- Liverpool have scored the most Premier League goals since January 1 (39).
- The Hoops have scored only one goal in their last 455 minutes of Premier League football, Loic Remy’s penalty against Newcastle last time out.
- Only Derby County (one in 2007-08) and Sunderland (three in 2005-06) have won fewer games in a Premier League campaign than QPR this season (four).
Player to Watch Out For
Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)
There was no doubt about this, was there? Right from the time he steps out to the guard of honour, his every tackle, his every header, his every bout of yelling at his teammates to fall in line and buckle up, will be the last a Liverpool fan will ever see. Expect an atmosphere lit up by the pulse of one of the game’s most dedicated servants. This Sunday is all about Jamie Carragher at the Mersey.
Liverpool 3 – 0 QPR
QPR’s recent record as well as their record against Liverpool doesn’t really give them the upper hand in this fixture. One draw and four losses in their last five games add to the fact that they have failed to win against Liverpool in 19 out of 22 times that these two sides have met. And considering there is a historic event on the cards for the Liverpool folklore going into this game, they would definitely want to give it all for the retiring ‘Mr. Liverpool’.