So the latest instalment of the title race unfolds this weekend. We are at Fulham today and The Mancs face Villa tomorrow.
Both games are vital to each team but, even at this comparatively late stage of the season, it’s very tempting to read too much into the game. Even if things do not go our way tomorrow there is still along way to go. We should take comfort from the fact that the Mancs, through their last couple of results, have shown themselves to be as vulnerable as any team and not the all conquering, untouchable, monoliths that dominate the Premiership in an … er an all conquering, untouchable, monolithic way !!!
At work everyone keeps asking about this Saturday. They seem to think I’ll be more and happy about this then say I was a few months back when the destiny of the title was actually in our own hands, I guess part of the intrigue for them it is also seeing the Mancs falter? My stock answer to such questions has been this, though deep down I do not really subscribe to all of it…..
Liverpool – let’s hope that Fulham, having now achieved 40 points feel that the pressure is off. Perhaps after the Mancs victory there will be a feeling of after the “Lord Mayors Show”? Let’s hope that Rafa manages to banish thoughts of Chelsea on Wednesday from his mind, concentrate on the game in hand and field his strongest line up. If we really go for it like we did against Villa and get something around the same result at half time he should be able to rest players in the second half?
The Mancs – well who cares about them but since people ask! Clearly they are going to be weakened by the three suspensions (Vidic, Scholes and Rooney) and Berbatov is injured. Villa, stung from the thrashing at Anfield, will be keen to make amends! Perhaps Fergie, with a Champions League game on Tuesday, will be thinking about the strength of his line up? I don’t understand why they didn’t bring this game forward to Saturday, presumably it was to give players time to recover from the internationals?
Anyway there it is, my “water cooler” explanation, blurted out with more hope than expectation. Will it ALL come true? Our cat has more chance of wining the Grand National! For example, the Mancs could be galvanised by the weeks rest, and we might lose our momentum? All we can really ask for is that the Reds win, get top spot on Saturday night and keep the pressure on the Mancs?
Meanwhile Rafa signing his new contract is beginning to pay dividends. Both Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt have agreed two year extensions to their existing deals. As I’ve said before, football contracts have been proved not to be worth the paper they are written on but this is still great news as it shows each players present commitment to the club. Said Rafa
“To have announced new deals for Steven and Dirk on the same day shows how hard everyone is working and that we are moving forward quickly as a club. These are very positive messages and I am very happy.”
Add to that news that some of Rafa’s backroom staff have also been locked in with new deals and it looks like, after countless rumours, we are finally trying to establish some stability, on the playing side at least.
Prediction for today? I’ve a feeling it could be a cake walk or one of our embarrassing struggles. Traditionally we don’t do well in the league after International and European games but needs must now. Now is the time to stop the talking and produce the results and with spirits high and our good form of late why shouldn’t we end up victorious to the tune of 2-0?
Enjoy the game.