How much do Liverpool want second place? Enough, but maybe not as much as they want the FA Cup, which they are in the final of in six days’ time. Rafa Benitez has gone for Jerzy Dudek in goal for today’s clash. Is it for the sake of resting Reina, protecting an injured Reina, or for sentimental reasons? There’s no news of Reina being injured or in need of rest, so it could well be for the benefit of giving Jerzy Dudek a send-off from his Anfield career. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see Jerzy in the Reds’ squad for next season.
In defence Rafa has chosen his strongest back four – Riise and Finnan either side of the immense talents of Carragher and Hyypia. It’s the same story in midfield – the born-again Harry Kewell is back from a minor injury and will play on the opposite wing to skipper Steven Gerrard. Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko look after the centre of the field. Up front are two players who in their prime would have been impossible probably even for Chelsea to afford – Robbie Fowler and Fernando Morientes. Fowler knows he’s staying, he’s about to sign his one-year contract this week, but Nando is still subject to a lot of speculation.
A strong-enough bench for Liverpool means that they can bring on Cisse or Crouch if they are looking for some extra attacking bite, but with Traore and Kromkamp there too then they have a chance to take it easy should results at Fratton Park and Old Trafford not be going their way.
A win for Manchester United today would mean they finish second, regardless of Liverpool’s result. Any other result from Old Trafford gives Liverpool a chance of that second place.
Full team: Dudek, Riise, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Kewell, Gerrard, Alonso, Sissoko, Morientes, Fowler. Subs – Reina, Traore, Cisse, Crouch, Kromkamp.