LIVERPOOL

v

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Anfield, Liverpool

May 15, 2011, 20:25 PM IST

***

The Doppler Effect has struck both the teams. While one team made its worst start in over half a century, the other was reveling in joy as they qualified for this season’s Champions League. And although Liverpool and Tottenham could have had plenty to boast about, a premature end to the season leaves both the teams right between the sea and sand.

Having recently signed a 3-year deal as Liverpool manager, Dalglish has moved on from the post of caretaker manager, which seemed more of an understatement looking at the magic he has weaved at Liverpool. Irrespective of how this season ends for the Reds in terms of the Premier League standings, the more important thing here is that this was a season of transformations in more than one way. Having had new owners, a new manager and new backroom staff in the form of Steve Clarke, a much required positive ambience has been restored. Things having been made so easy for Kenny, his job remained of propelling Liverpool as high on the table as possible. With just 3 losses in the 16 games he has so far been in charge of, Dalglish has again surpassed everyone’s expectations. And now that a European spot is lurking around, the Reds have set their sights on it but for them to clinch that spot, they would have to defeat Spurs at Anfield.

The King is Here to Stay

The smiles on Harry Redknapp’s face have slowly faded as the season has progressed and what seemed to be one of their most promising seasons in a long time turned out to be a poison ivy. After been knocked out of the Champions League, Spurs lost their way in the league too. They have now garnered 1 win in their last 13 games in all competitions and it is such slump in form that has got Redknapp’s men to a point where they have to fight Liverpool out of all clubs to keep their hopes of qualifying for Europe alive; this, after they also missed out on the 4th spot which is now sealed by Manchester City. To make matters worse, Tottenham have several key first-team players missing for this fixture and given the form that Liverpool are in, it is going to be one of the toughest games of the season for Harry at Anfield.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool

The most expensive British player in the history of the league returns to the squad after recovering from a knee injury. However, Andy Carroll might take the bench, looking at Dirk Kuyt’s and Suarez’ menacing form. Raul Meireles, who was substituted in the game against Fulham last week due to a minor calf injury, should also be match fit for this game. Besides the inclusion of these two names, the rest of the patients on the list still continue to be precluded from the squad.

Looks like everytime a Liverpool player gets injured, Kenny Dalglish somehow manages to perform better with a depleted squad. Even with Andy Carroll’s absence against Fuham, Suarez was a machine, making his marauding runs every now and then from midfield. It was goals, goals and only goals right from the word ‘Go!’. The Reds converted their chances to perfection to gain an early lead and sealed the game against the Cottagers. Well, expect Liverpool’s approach in this game to be no different.

Pepe Reina has safeguarded his future but more importantly, he needs to stay on his toes in order to save the Tottenham shots flying in from everywhere. Modric, Van der Vaart, Palacios – everybody knows the potential these players have from long range, which means that Pepe Reina will be one of the most active Liverpool players on the pitch on Sunday. On the attacking front, Maxi Rodriguez’ phenomenal form over the past 3 games will surely give Liverpool the impetus they need to win the fifth spot for themselves.

Probable Starting Line-up: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Johnson, Flanagan, Spearing, Lucas. Meireles, Suarez, Kuyt, Carroll.

football formations

Probable Team Lineups

Tottenham Hotspur

The Lilywhites will be travelling to Anfield with a highly depleted squad on paper. Many players have picked up injuries over the past few games and Harry Redknapp is now a worrying man. Starting from the back, first choice goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes has been ruled out for this game after picking up a back injury recently. Hence Carlo Cudicini, who replaced him in the previous game against Manchester City, will be guarding the Tottenham goal this time around too. Coming to central defense, William Gallas, who has been inspirational for Spurs this season, will not feature in Tottenham’s remaining games due to a calf injury. In addition, Jonathan Woodgate, Alan Hutton and Assou-Ekotto are also a part of the injury checklist.

When Harry met Trouble

Looks like The Grinch came in early this year for the London club. Gareth Bale, the PFA player of the year, will also not participate for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury. England internationals Tom Huddlestone and Jermain Jenas have also been ruled out of the game, having picked up ankle and thigh injuries respectively.

However, the good news for all Tottenham fans is that of the return of Ledley King. The centre back has been out of action since mid-October last year.

Tottenham know that they need to gather all 3 points against Liverpool, but having been winless in the last 13 games has raised question marks over their strength. This would mean that central midfield would be the most important area on the pitch. Corluka and Rose will have a big task when they come up against Suarez. If Carroll gets a starting spot, then Redknapp needs to put on his thinking cap and see how he can keep Carroll at bay.

Probable Starting Line-up: Cudicini, King, Dawson, Rose, Corluka, Modric, Palacios, Sandro, Lennon, Crouch, Van der Vaart.

TheHardTackle’s MAN TO WATCH OUT FOR

Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

El Pistolero

The Uruguayan has been in sublime form at his new club and is a tireless worker, who is as involved in setting up goals as he is in scoring them. His first touches and trickery will fit naturally into Dalglish’s philosophy of pass-and-move.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Liverpool 2 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur

When Liverpool reach the kind of form that they are in now, it is more often than not impossible to break their momentum and beat them emphatically. Tottenham’s recent run of poor results is testimony to the fact that even with a world-class midfield, there is still a killer instinct lacking in the Lilywhites.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PLAST