White Hart Lane, London
November 28, 2010, 9:25 PM IST
Winning has kind of become Tottenham’s joie de vivre this season. A 3-0 thumping of Werder Bremen in the Champions League, following a well deserved victory over North London rivals Arsenal last weekend would have placed them in the favourites’ seat when Liverpool travel to White Hart Lane this Sunday. Spurs are sitting pretty in the 6th spot, just 6 points away from league leaders Chelsea; and a win for Harry Redknapp’s men will see them edge closer to the top of the table. Welcoming news such as the mayor backing the North London club for a new stadium and Gareth Bale’s inclusion in the 55-man roster for the FIFA/FIFPro World XI 2010 has only buoyed the spirits – 3 points against Liverpool will further broaden the smiles at White Heart Lane.
Up, up and away!
Liverpool, after a stuttering start to their revival this season, are steadily managing to find their footing. Last Saturday’s victory over West Ham United proved that Steven Gerrard’s preclusion is, after all, not as bad as one thought it would be. But Roy Hodgson admits that Spurs are now an “expensively assembled” team that may prove to be a menace come Sunday. However, just a single clean sheet in the league so far this season leaves vulnerabilities in the Spurs’ defense and the Reds will look to capitalize on that. Liverpool have picked up 13 points in the last 6 league games, second only to Manchester United, and will arrive at White Hart Lane brimming with confidence and self-belief – which is why this fixture promises to be a cracker of a game.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After a resounding victory over Bremen in the Champions League, Redknapp’s men are bound to experience some fatigue. But that shouldn’t be a problem for a team like Tottenham which has considerable squad depth. However, Ledley King(groin), Michael Dawson(knee), Tom Huddlestone(ankle) and Jamie O’Hara(back) will spawn the stands for this game as they continue to nurse injuries. Gareth Bale and Rafael Van Der Vaart should be match fit after their initial injury concerns prior to the home game against Bremen. Defoe’s return from injury means he might land his second start in two months following his ankle surgery.
Spurs have never been shy of playing open, attack-minded football and Redknapp will stick to his mantra even this Sunday especially when his team’s previous victory at home against the Reds was a result of the same style of play. With Bale, Modric and Van Der Vaart hitting top form, it is going to be a tough game for the Liverpool defence.
Probable Starting Line-up: Gomes, Gallas, Kaboul, Hutton, Assou-Ekotto, Bale, Jenas, Modric, Lennon, Van Der Vaart, Pavlyuchenko.
Roy Hodgson had welcomed a one week break for his team; the break gave him ample time to prepare his players to walk away with 3 points from White Hart Lane. Liverpool continue to be without Daniel Agger though – the strong defender is out due to a calf injury. Joining him will be captain fantastic Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and youngster Jay Spearing (ankle).
The good news for Liverpool, however, is that Joe Cole is set to feature in the game after a lay-off due to a hamstring injury. Also returning to match fitness is Fabio Aurelio who hasn’t tasted much of first team action so far this season. The game on Sunday will also see the return of another Brazilian, Lucas. He returns to the squad after serving a one-match ban following his red card in the game against Stoke City.
Liverpool had put up a much better and convincing performance in the game against West Ham last weekend and Hodgson will surely look to replicate the same this time around. White Hart Lane hasn’t been kind to the Reds over the past few fixtures, but sitting 9th in the table, Liverpool have a mountain to climb and thus are bound to take the game to Tottenham right from the start. Hodgson has done his best to take some pressure off Fernando Torres but his words will carry credence only if Liverpool performs as a team on Sunday.
Possible Starting Line-up: Reina, Glen, Carragher, Skrtel, Aurelio, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi, Kuyt, Ngog, Torres.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Gareth Bale (Tottenham): Presently, Gareth Bale can’t help but make headlines with his every move; he continues to enhance his reputation in the world of football by the day. At the Lane, he will be looking to give the Liverpool defence the run for its money.
Tottenham Hotspur 2 – 2 Liverpool
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
– Uday Telkar