It doesn't really mean anything that Liverpool will play the last match of 2012 tomorrow. It's not like the next game will signal the beginning of a "clausura" season that you would see in South America for instance. But at least for the supporters, there is a mental relief to having the calendar flip after this one. Because it seems nothing went right this year. Even the one triumph, the League Cup, was won in the most agonizing way possible to the point where I'm not sure jubilation even entered the conversation. I wonder if there won't be the same sort of refreshing of the mind for the players as well.
But there's one more match to be won, and another bad taste to be washed out of the mouth. Yes, Liverpool are seemingly playing a lot of bounce-back matches these days. But that's what happens when you're an inconsistent team in transition. I'd like to believe there will be less of these in 2013. I'd like to. I really would.
For this one, Brendan Rodgers is going to have to ring the changes. I would expect both Lucas and Gerrard to be out of the starting 11 on this one. Lucas's recovery injury almost mandates it, and so do Gerrard's aging legs. With another match approaching on Wednesday, Gerrard can't get both of them. Maybe this is more out of hope than expectation, because Gerrard was so nowhere against Stoke, and at least part of that has to be due to fatigue. That should see Allen and Henderson come in, and I would hope it would have Suso as the point of the midfield triangle. Shelvey had himself a pretty nothing match at The Britainnia and could use the break. But I doubt both Shelvey and Gerrard sit. That would cause a Nuri Sahin sighting, and I don't think anyone's prepared for that.
In an ideal world, you could sit Suarez too. But the world we live in is not usually the world we want. So Suarez can bring his dragging tongue out there, with Sterling replacing Suso and Downing probably getting a chance to continue on his run of competence. There aren't too may other choices.
When the first choice backline has been fit and ready, they've played. I expect no different here.
And QPR are there for the taking. My feelings on Harry Redknapp are known to those of you who have been with me for a while. I don't care that he once got Spurs into the Champions League, while the British press ignore how he failed to do so again after a titanic collapse to Arsenal. If he weren't English and didn't look like he just rolled out of the pub with the media and wasn't so good at blowing his own horn, this guy would have no regard. He's a fine manager, but that's it. And he benefited at Spurs from having Luka Modric run things, and it took him forever to let him do that. I can't wait for him to get QPR relegated this season and blame everyone but himself, because that's what's going to happen.
The threat from QPR comes from two enigmatic players, Taraabt and Cisse. Cisse is not the physical battering ram that have given Agger and Skrtel problems. His threat of pace and shooting from Mars is something that Liverpool's defense can handle. Taraabt will either run things or be completely absent. He plays in that spot that Lucas would patrol if healthy and Allen has had trouble at times covering, and that's right in front of the defense. But Harry's just as likely to shift him out to wing, and whatever fullback has to deal with that will also know he'll have free run in going forward.
Anton Ferdinand has never been able to mark a corpse and is living off his last name. Ryan Nelson was terrible and he's hurt anyway. Quite simply, Liverpool will have to go out of their way to lose to this outfit. But they've done just that against Villa and others, including at QPR last season.
Just end this year already. We're ready for the next one.