Liverpool will be aiming to continue keeping pace with Manchester City and return to the Premier League summit when they host Huddersfield Town at Anfield.
Just three gameweeks remain for the curtains to fall on the 2018-19 Premier League season. With the contenders for the title refusing to budge, the race seems to be going right down the wire. Liverpool will hope to ensure they do their part when they welcome Huddersfield Town to Anfield on Friday night.
Liverpool just cannot seem to do much wrong in the Premier League this season. The Reds have been beaten just once so far, although eight stalemates have meant that they are lagging behind Manchester City by two points. The Merseyside outfit however, continue to keep pace with the defending champions, with Everton the last team to deny them all three points, last month.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp’s men also have the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona to look forward to, the first leg of which will be held next week. Huddersfield, on the other hand, have been one of the worst sides across Europe this season and by far the poorest in the Premier League.
The Terriers have seen their fate sealed already and will definitely finish rock bottom of the division, having managed to win just three of the 35 games they have played so far. The last of those victories came two months ago, and they have since been beaten in each of their seven fixtures.
The reverse fixture, played at the John Smith’s Stadium in October last year, saw Liverpool hand a 1-0 loss to Huddersfield, thanks to a first half goal by Mohamed Salah. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
In addition to their incredible form all throughout the season, what has also helped Jurgen Klopp get his preparations in order is the fact that he has rarely been beset with injury troubles. Ahead of the visit of Huddersfield on Friday, the Liverpool boss only has two first-team players unavailable apart from long-term absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
While Fabinho ought to miss out due to the head injury sustained against Cardiff City last weekend, Adam Lallana has a minor muscular injury to deal with. Klopp is unlikely to risk Fabinho ahead of the crucial Champions League first leg encounter against Barcelona.
The Brazilian’s absence means Georginio Wijnaldum is likely to continue in the no. 6 role for Liverpool, although Klopp might one change in a bid to continue keeping his players fresh. Jordan Henderson could make way for James Milner, with Naby Keita retaining his place.
Up ahead in attack, another shuffle is in order, with Mohamed Salah likely to be kept on the bench so as to conserve him for the Barcelona fixture. In his stead, Divock Origi ought to start, with Sadio Mane moving out to the right flank. Roberto Firmino will keep his place in the false nine role, with Xherdan Shaqiri expected to be the first substitute to give either Firmino or Mane an early night off.
In defence, Dejan Lovren is available after recovering from illness. And, he Croat could return to the starting lineup to hand Joel Matip a rest. Another defender who is due some rest is Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the fit-again Joe Gomez finally getting a start since recovering from his injury. Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson though, should keep their places, as should Alisson in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita; Mane, Firmino, Origi
Jan Siewert has seen the fitness concerns surrounding his squad ease up considerably, with Adama Diakhaby in contention to return after recovering from a hamstring injury. Jonathan Hogg should also be available after shrugging off a knock. But, the Huddersfield manager will continue to remain without Ben Hamer (knock) and Laurent Depoitre (foot).
Depoirte’s absence does not hurt much, with Diakhaby, Steve Mounie and January signing Karlan Grant all at Siewert’s disposal. Grant has been in scintillating form since joining the Terriers in the winter, so much so, that he has already become the club’s top scorer for the season.
The 21-year-old striker was also the one who gave Huddersfield a glimmer of hope after appearing off the bench against Huddersfield last week, and he should return to the starting lineup to lead the line for the visitors. Meanwhile, the match could also see Siewert keep faith in the 4-4-1-1 formation instead of taking the easy way out with a back-five.
Aaron Mooy is likely to play off Grant and will be the chief creative threat for Huddersfield, while also posing danger with his prowess on set-pieces. Behind him, Elias Kachunga will be another player who will be tasked with supporting Grant with him bombarding run from the right flank.
Alex Pritchard should start on the left side of the Huddersfield midfield, with Juninho Bacuna a certain starter in the middle of the park. Bacuna’s partner will be determined by Hogg’s ability to shrug off his knock. If the veteran is not fit enough to start, Philip Billing is likely to be the player to replace him.
At the back, there are unlikely to be many changes, with Terence Kongolo and Christopher Schindler forming the central defensive partnership. Erik Durm should continue on the left side of the defence, but Florent Hadergjonaj is expected to come in as the right-back. Meanwhile, Hamer’s absence means Jonas Lossl will be the man in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Schindler, Kongolo, Durm; Kachunga, Bacuna, Hogg, Pritchard; Mooy; Grant
1. Huddersfield Asian Handicap +3.5 @ 1.575
2. Liverpool Clean Sheet – YES @ 1.53
1. Over 0.5 Cards in First 10 Minutes @ 10.00
- Liverpool are unbeaten in 13 meetings with Huddersfield, with the Terriers last getting the better of their hosts 60 years ago in a 1-0 win (W10 D3).
- Liverpool could win 10 consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since a run of 11 in a row under Rafael Benítez from March to May 2006.
- A loss on Friday would see Huddersfield equal the club record of eight consecutive league defeats, set earlier this season from December 2018 to January 2019.
- Liverpool’s tally of 88 points is a Premier League club record. The most points earned by a team finishing as Premier League runners-up is 89 by Manchester United in 2011-12. They were beaten to the title by Manchester City on goal difference.
- Liverpool have gone 38 Premier League fixtures without defeat at Anfield, the division’s second longest unbeaten home run behind Chelsea’s 86-match streak.
Player to Watch
A season that promised a lot has become one of frustration for Joe Gomez. While he did enjoy a rise in stature at the heart of the Liverpool defence in the first half of the campaign, a leg injury and subsequent complications have means he has not started a game since the 3-1 win over Burnley back in December of last year.
Now back to full fitness, the young defender has a crucial role to play in the run-in, even though he is unlikely to usurp either Joel Matip on Trent Alexander-Arnold. But, his availability means Jurgen Klopp can afford to rest the aforementioned key players without the quality dropping.
On Friday, Gomez will give the Liverpool boss the luxury of giving Alexander-Arnold a night off, having come off as a substitute last week against Cardiff City. As far as the player himself is concerned, he can end the season on a high, aiding the Reds’ bid to lift the Premier League title for the very first time.
Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield Town
Liverpool could not have asked for an easier game to be a part of their run-in. Having said that, nothing can be taken for granted in the Premier League, not even with sides that have shown that they are several levels below those that can hope to survive the rigours of the English top-flight.
But, even with a few players resting on the night, the Reds should have more than enough quality to not just keep Jan Siewert’s men at bay, but also hand them a comprehensive defeat. Sadio Mane has been in fine form lately, particularly at home, and he should have a say in the proceedings.
The match could also see a few fringe players shine and make a case for themselves for the final few games. All in all, it looks like this could be a stroll for Liverpool, who should coast to a 3-0 win on Friday to return to the top of the Premier League table.