Britannia Stadium, Stoke
24 May 2015, 14:00 GMT
When one thinks of this game, words like a inconsequentiala , a pointlessa and a why bother?a spring to mind. But dona t let such thoughts sway you. Herea s a list of things that can happen during the match that will make the 90 minutes of watching minimally motivated footballers worthwhile:
- Steven Gerrard might just score a goal (well, a penalty if wea re being realistic) in his final match in the Barclaya s Premier League
- Raheem Sterling might decide to bite a Stoke City player, hoping that this would finally convince the Liverpool management to sell him in the summer.
- Either of Jurgen Klopp or Rafa Benitez might be spotted in the audience, smiling and shaking hands with FSG head John Henry, while Brendan Rodgers is seen perspiring furiously and looking increasingly uncomfortable as the match proceeds.
So you see, this really is a game that one must not miss.
Stoke City – Team News and Tactics
For this game, Manager Mark Hughes will be without Bojan Krkic and Victor Moses, while Stephan Ireland is also a doubt.
Hughes is a smart man. Hea s not going to go out there trying to prove a point by attacking Liverpool FC head-first. No, hea s seen the match tapes, and knows all he needs to do is to keep his defence tight and organized, and hit Liverpool on the counter attack. And in Jonathan Walters, Marko Arnautovic and Mame Biram Diouf, he has just the men he needs to do just that.
Hughes will go with his usual 4-3-3, with central midfielders Steven Na Zonzi and Glenn Whelan alternating between covering their back-4 and moving forward to support the more attack minded Charlie Adam. With Liverpoola s back-line a shaky mess, as it has been everytime Mamadou Sakho has been absent from the side, Arnautovic and Walters could have a field day exploiting the spaces left behind when Liverpoola s wing-backs charge forward. Add to that Charlie Adam whoa s in great goal-scoring form, Liverpool should ensure they give Lucas Leiva a start to keep the Scotsman.
Liverpool FC – Team News and Tactics
Mario Balotelli and Mamadou Sakho are both unlikely to start, while Daniel Sturridge has probably moved a big screen TV and his X-Box into the recovery room hea s spending most of 2015 in. Otherwise Brendan Rodgers has most of his first team options available, having clarified Raheem Sterling will be available for selection against Stoke.
Rodgers is likely to retain his 3-4-3 formation, with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson paired in central midfield. While Lucas Leiva is the one who lends the team most balance, Gerrard has to start his last game for LFC, and Henderson is the only one with the energy and drive to compensate for the captaina s slow legs. With Rickie Lambert not expected to be too effective against a tight defense, Raheem Sterling should start as the forward most attacker, flanked by Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana.
A lot will be riding on whoever leads the line for Liverpool, be it Raheem Sterling, Rickie Lambert or any other. Liverpool have regularly had games where they played well, but failed to score and eventually lost points. They must bury their chances this time around, else they could have a repeat of the embarrassing 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace last week.
- Raheem Sterling has scored only one goal in the last 10 games.
- Charlie Adam has scored 4 goals in the last 7 games.
- Jordan Henderson has the best goals + assists total (15) for Liverpool this season, with 9 assists and 6 goals to his name.
Player to Watch: Steven Gerrard
All eyes will be on Steven Gerrard this evening. His last game for Liverpool FC. The team are losing their captain, their talisman, their very own living legend. And the outcome of the game will depend vastly on which Gerrard shows up. Will it be the man who has time and again dragged this team to victory, often single-handedly? Or the one who at times has looked like a liability on the team this season?
Prediction: Stoke City 0 a 1 Liverpool FC
With both teams very little left to play for, there is a big risk that this will turn into a hugely dull affair. But the players and fans of Liverpool FC would be aware of just how momentous this occasion is, and that might just give the team that extra push.