Liverpool - Spurs Preview: What’s So Special About Home Advantage?
Eighth is looking likeliest, which I think we’d all have accepted after Two Points Eight Games™. While AANP could not be bothered to work out exactly how well we’ve done this calendar year, I’d expect Spurs would be somewhere near the top of any table based solely on 2009 form. Home form all season has been spot-on, the record of only conceding ten goals in nineteen games mildly astonishing.Liverpool’s home record is similarly impressive – unbeaten in the league at Anfield all season - adding a few inches to our already tall order of European qualification (which requires us to win and Fulham to lose at home to Everton).
A Digression Which Rather Hijacks The Entire Article
So does home support make all the difference? There certainly is something to be said for the full-blown, cacophonous atmosphere of White Hart Lane making the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. Never been to Anfield, but the Kop’s reputation is presumably well-earned. For sure then, the players ought really to get a kick out of that sort of atmosphere. Indeed, even at amateur level, just having a few hot lady-friends chirping in with the occasional squeal can add a little motivation. (Me, shallow? Never.)
However, the cynic in me has been motoring away all season, and is unwilling to yield any ground now by simply accepting that “home advantage” is some sort concrete phenomenon we all accept without demur. It only seems to be a concept, existing solely in people’s minds, much like the notion that ugly people are actually beautiful inside. Home advantage seems to equate to having more bald fat shouty men than the opposition, which might add an extra dose of adrenaline, but doesn’t strike me as a good reason to drop a striker and play five in midfield.
I can appreciate that it would be rather intimidating to play at a ground of 30,000 people, all of whom are screeching abuse – but it’s not a fist-fight. The good souls in the stands don’t get to set foot on the turf, and therefore their contribution ought to be limited.
Star Trek definitely gains something from the big-screen experience, but would still be a cracking action film if watched on dvd in a mate’s living-room. One suspects that the dvd version will have the same plot. And yet, venue influences a team’s game-plan. It’s an unspoken agreement before a match that the onus will be on the home team to have first crack at wresting the initiative. The away team sets out its stall to “soak up the pressure”, “silence the crowd” and other clichés from the beaks of parrots.
It’s not a particular complaint, more an idle musing on a hungover Saturday afternoon. Still, as with suggesting to parents that new-born babies actually look shrivelled and hideous, I imagine it’s not an argument I’m going to win. Accepting that away form will typically be worse than home form is just one of those quirks of life we accept and work around.
(Nevertheless, while some people yearn for nuclear disarmament and an end to third-world poverty, I idly dream of the day when teams dismiss the concept of “home advantage” and instead do their damnedest to come out of the traps all guns blazing every game, irrespective of location.)
The Little Matter Of The Football Match
The curious question of whether Robbie Keane would have been allowed to play against a Liverpool team for whom he stood to win a Premiership medal is now irrelevant, so we can instead watch again for clues as to what strike-force ‘Arry will adopt next season.
And a scary final note - in 24 hours or so the three-month break begins. Not sure I’m quite ready to go cold-turkey.