By Christopher Boulay
The Reds close out the season in Wales, as Liverpool hopes to leapfrog Everton for the seventh spot, and finish the season on a high note. But it won’t be easy, as the final hurdle of the campaign will be Swansea, a surprisingly difficult side for any challenger this season.
Liverpool is still smarting from the tough loss in the FA Cup final at the hands of Chelsea, but at least some of that pain was alleviated in the following Premier League match. The 4-1 win was helpful, but it just further proved how inconsistent the side has been throughout the season. With that in mind, a win away to Swansea on Sunday could give further hope going into the summer that the club can turn its fortunes around.
Steven Gerrard may miss the game due to being rested for Euro 2012, and Martin Skrtel is likely to miss after reports of the Slovak underwent a minor surgical procedure this week and will start his summer break early. In their places, a combination of Jay Spearing, Jonjo Shelvey or Jordan Henderson would likely be placed in the midfield, while either Jamie Carragher or Sebastian Coates could be slotted into the center of the defense.
Andy Carroll may get one more opportunity to impress Roy Hodgson before Euros, and he likely will couple that with another chance to convince Liverpool supporters that he will be a constant threat both domestically and abroad for the club in years to come. Luis Suarez will likely feature in his final match before a much-deserved break.
Maxi Rodriguez also may see time, in what is almost definitely his final match for the club. While he may have been an unpopular choice for selection during his time at Liverpool, the unfortunate case of Maxi Rodriguez will likely go down as “what could have been” by many supporters. Surely, he will be missed. His decision to leave would not be able to be criticized by any fan.
The lineup could be drawn up in a number of ways tomorrow, as it is all depending on the way manager Kenny Dalglish will want to approach the match. Could he be gunning for the strongest 11 on paper that is available, as a win could get Liverpool to seventh? Or, will he look to play some of the younger players, who could have larger roles in the side next season?
Either way, it isn’t likely that Dalglish or the players will take Swansea lightly. There may not be many complete stars at the club, but these players have proved many wrong. Nicknamed “Swansealona” by some for its technical (and frequent) passses, the Welsh side has proven that it fully deserved its place in the league this season.
Brendan Rodgers has pulled off a small miracle at Swansea, and if he can keep it going next year, the club may be building a foundation to stay in the top league for the foreseeable future. Michel Vorm has been massive for Swansea this season between the sticks. It is likely he will show more of the same tomorrow. Danny Graham leads the club with 13 goals, but this club will lull another side to sleep with its constant passing before striking. If Liverpool wants a positive result at the Liberty, it will need to start with a solid attack, as well as the Reds controlling the play. This may not be an easy fixture, but it is one that if Liverpool can win, it can show some real grit to end the campaign.
Liverpool v Fulham
When: Sunday, May 13th 1000 EST/ 1500 GMT
Where: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales
Premier League Table: Swansea 12th (44 points), Liverpool 8th (52 points)
Last Premier League Match: Liverpool 4-1 Chelsea, Manchester United 2-0 Swansea
Projected Swansea Starting 11:
DEF: Williams, Caulker, Monk, Taylor
MF: Dyer, Britton, Sigurdsson, Gower, Allen
Subs from: Tremmel, Tate, Rangel, McEachran, Sinclair, Lita, Routledge, Moore
Projected Liverpool Starting 11:
DEF: Kelly, Agger, Coates, Enrique
MF: Downing, Shelvey, Spearing, Maxi
FW: Suarez, Carroll
Subs from: Doni, Aurelio, Johnson, Carragher, Wilson, Coady, Wisdom, Gerrard, Eccleston, Sterling, Kuyt, Bellamy
Interact: What’s your final score prediction? What’s your predicted starting eleven? Comment below.