By Padraig O’Callaghan – @AGameOfTwoHalfz
Liverpool welcome already relegated Huddersfield Town to Anfield for the third-last game of the 18/19 Premier League season.
A final push for the Premier League could see Liverpool amass 97 points and still not be Champions so will need to rely on other results to see them go top.
Liverpool have won their last nine games, their second longest winning streak of the season. A 2-0 win over Cardiff last weekend continued this excellent run of form. Second-half strikes from Wijnaldum and Milner set the red on their way to record 27th league win of the season.
Huddersfield are already relegated. It was only a matter of time when the Terriers were relegated. A lack of investment into the right areas in the summer added to what was already a very poor side meant that the season was only going to end one way when they kicked off in August.
Liverpool showed good patience in their victory over Cardiff City, numerous chances were created in the first half but were not taken. The Reds’ went into the break level but remained calm knowing chances would come.
Gini Wijnaldum broke the deadlock scoring his second ever away league goal after a routine devised up by the players at half time, a low corner was met by the Dutchman near the penalty area on the half volley and it left Neil Etheridge with no chance.
Sean Morrison had to chance to level seemingly misjudging the flight of the ball in front of an open net after Alisson was left in no man’s land. On closer inspection our Brazilian goalkeeper got a slight touch to divert the ball away from the Cardiff defender.
Liverpool had chances to go clear by two goals but like the first half failed to convert, James Milner did score the second from the penalty spot after Mo Salah was fouled to send Liverpool on their way to another three points and continue their winning run to nine games.
Huddersfield are on a seven-game losing streak and have lost 20 of their last 22 games, failing to score in 12 of them. Their past five league games have seen them lose all five, concede 16 goals and score five, three of which came in a 4-3 loss to West Ham after finding themselves 3-1 up in the 75th minute.
Over the five games their numbers are quite damming. They average 3.5 shot on target each game and only register 40% of the ball, completing 70% of their on average 300 passes.
Their top scorer is Karlan Grant, in his debut season the 20-year-old has scored four goals, 15% of their 27 league goals. For a player signed in January to be your top scorer pretty much tells you everything about Huddersfield’s season.
With the Terriers’ scoring rate its unlikely they will even venture into Liverpool’s half in the game and it could be an opportunity for Liverpool to increase their goal difference if the unlikely event that the League would be decided on goal difference.
With Manchester City winning the Manchester Derby, it now firmly makes Liverpool’s title rivals clear favourites with three games left. Barcelona are on the horizon next week, so Jurgen Klopp may look to prioritize Europe and rest a couple of players on Friday.
Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren have both missed out on the last two matches due to injury and both are probably unavailable for Huddersfield. Joe Gomez could start after making substitute appearances in the last two games.
Alisson Becker will start in goal as usual, if he keeps doesn’t concede, he will break Pepe Reina’s record for most clean sheets in a debut season. Joe Gomez will start ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back, the young Scouser has looked leggy in recent weeks and will need a rest ahead of a huge game next week.
Andy Robertson deserves a rest too but will start and come off later on in the game due to a lack of cover. Van Dijk and Matip will start in the middle and continue their strong partnership.
Fabinho may miss the game after picking up a concussion against Cardiff, it usually takes 7-10 days to fully recover from a concussion so it is likely he will sit out. Naby Keita will come in for the Brazilian starting next to Jordan Henderson with Gini Wijnaldum sitting deep. Divock Origi could start to rest Sadio Mane, partnering Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah up front.
Huddersfield manager Jan Siewert has no injury concerns ahead of the fixture and will likely already be planning for life in the Championship with his side.
Siewert has mostly used a 4-4-1-1 formation during his short stint at Huddersfield.
Jonas Lossl will start in net having kept the third fewest clean sheets in the league with five.
Smith, Schindler, Kongolo and Durm will form a back 4 and will look to try to keep Liverpool’s attack quiet, but that has been nigh on impossible for most teams in recent weeks.
Bacuna and Hogg will start in the centre of midfield, Aaron Mooy will start slightly ahead of the duo with Kachunga and Mbenza playing on the flanks. Mooy is Huddersfield’s most dangerous player but has limited ability, if we starve the Australian of the ball then Liverpool should have little defensive work to do.
Up front, Steve Mounie will be a lone striker and will likely get next to no service due to how both teams are playing at the minute.
Last five results
12/02/1972 – Huddersfield Town 0-1 Liverpool Division 1
12/12/1999 – Huddersfield Town 0-2 Liverpool FA Cup
28/10/2017 – Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield Town Premier League
30/01/2018 – Huddersfield Town 0-3 Liverpool Premier League
20/10/2018 – Huddersfield Town 0-1 Liverpool Premier League
Liverpool could field a team with half the players from the academy and still come away with a victory, 75 points separate them going into the match which shows the gulf in class between the two teams.
The pressure is off Huddersfield with their fate already decided though they seem to play like they were before their relegation was confirmed signalling how poor their squad is and how big a miracle their survival under David Wagner was a year ago.
With a tough game against Barcelona next week, killing the game off in the first half should be priority. Resting our full backs should be on Jurgen Klopp’s mind, Trent and Andy will be extremely important in Liverpool’s visit to the Nou Camp next week and they will need fresh legs to compete with one of the most dangerous sides in Europe.
I’m going for a 4-0 Liverpool win. Naby Keita could score his third goal in five games, Divock Origi will likely make an impact from the left while Salah will add to his tally of 19 goals this season with two goals.
Final score: Liverpool 4 (Keita, Salahx2, Origi) – Huddersfield Town 0