Liverpool Look to Shake off Bad Luck in North London: Tottenham Preview

It’s all fun and games until someone loses to Spurs
It’s a bit awkward to talk about; after sections of Reds fans spent the summer drooling over Tottenham’s spending spree, Liverpool go into their first encounter of the campaign with the London side sitting three points and four places below them in the table. Don’t let your obvious amusement get out of hand though – we’re coming face to face them on Sunday.

It’s the middle of December, and despite some expected stumbles, Brendan Rodgers side continues to punch above their weight, but they’re going to need to find a way to win on the road if they want to keep the chasers at bay. Liverpool’s results on the road this season haven’t been anything to write home about; couple that with the fact that White Hart Lane has been less than hospitable  in recent seasons and there’s real cause for concern. Three points for the home side has become the de facto result with the Reds winless in their last six visits, and if they’re not careful, it could quickly become seven.

Then again, Spurs home form hasn’t exactly been sparkling this campaign. With a good start to the season behind them, Andre Villas-Boas spent the autumn tinkering with his side in an attempt to bring his new charges up to speed with the rigors of the Premier League and they experienced a dip in form accordingly. Although they seem to be back on track with a run of five games unbeaten, they’re going to have to dig deep on Sunday if they want to get their Champions League ambitions back on track.

Since being thrashed 6-0 at the hands of a rampant Manchester City side, Villas-Boas has steered his side to a draw with the Citizens neighbours, as well as wins over Premier League strugglers Fulham and Sunderland. While the Reds are coming off three matches in the span of a week, Tottenham was in action last night when they rounded off the Europa League Group Stage with a 4-1 win over Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala – a game which saw summer recruit Roberto Soldado score his first hat-trick for the club.

It also marked the £26mil striker’s first goals from open play since his move from Valencia this summer; a fact that hasn’t been lost on the Spurs boss who confirmed that even his three-goal tally may not be enough to keep the Spaniard in the side. “We have to think about it,” said Villas-Boas regarding Soldado’s chances of featuring against Liverpool on Sunday. “Now it’s about putting the best possible strategy of the game and seeing what we can do.” Maybe “seeing what we can do” will include making Roberto watch endless tapes of Luis Suarez while Jermaine Defoe starts in his place; to be fair, it wouldn’t be a bad idea..

15 goals in 10 games? You’d be smiling too
If Spurs want to stop Brendan Rodgers side, they’ll be faced with the monumental task of keeping the Uruguayan at bay; an almost impossible feat considering his recent run of form. Suarez now has a staggering 15 goals from only 10 Premier League matches this season and when you consider that Tottenham have the same tally collectively as a team in 5 more matches, there’s an extra sense of awe added to his obvious threat. Still, the Reds aren’t the same side that started off the season with three wins anymore with injuries blighting the options available to them.

Steven Gerrard is the most recent casualty after pulling up against West Ham United last weekend and the Reds skipper will spend the next 4 – 6 weeks on the sidelines. He won’t have to worry about being lonely though as both Daniel Sturridge and Jose Enrique will be around to keep him company as they work through their respective ailments. Thankfully, Jordan Henderson has shaken off a knock he picked up during the win over the Hammers and will be ready to face Tottenham this weekend; he’s expected to join Joe Allen and Lucas in the middle of the park as the Reds boss finds out exactly how well his side is going to cope without their captain.

The heart of the defense remains anyone’s guess; Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan look like they’re nailed on to start on the flanks while Simon Mignolet is the obvious choice in the net, but any one of Liverpool’s center halves could feature against Spurs. The duo of Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho combined well to keep their visitors relatively quiet last Saturday, but the Slovakian’s luck turned on him once again as he scored his second own goal of the week following a mistake against Hull City the previous Sunday. Former Arsenal man Kolo Toure will be itching for a recall against one of his oldest foes while Daniel Agger has shaken off the illness that kept him out of the lineup last weekend. Put any of those names in a hat and pick two – that’s about the best we can do.

Up front seems to be a bit more settled though with Luis Suarez ready to add a few more notches to his headboard; he’ll no doubt be joined by Philippe Coutinho, but the other flank is questionable with youngster Raheem Sterling missing a number of chances against both Norwich City and West Ham United. The more experienced Victor Moses could get the nod ahead of the 19-year old, but the Nigerians form hasn’t exactly inspired lately. No matter who starts, they’ll have to be ready to take their chances when they’re presented – there will be no room for error come Sunday.

When you’re fighting for Champions League qualification, every match is important and facing your closest chasers takes on an extra edge. Although stumbling at White Hart Lane has become almost expected, Brendan Rodgers hasn’t been one to conform to old ways; the Northern Irishman has banished the Stoke City hoodoo, beaten Manchester United for the first time and done away with the residual curse of Roy Hodgson with a 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion. Beating Tottenham at the Lane and keeping our top four chances alive isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities – I’m going to venture a guess and say it’s going a very good possibility.

Steven

Think we’re going to shake off our problems in London and take full points on Sunday? Or do you think our injuries are going to be a major determent to our cause? Let us know in the comments or give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter; we’ll be around.




Steven McMillan

Can’t find up from down or tell black from white, but doesn't care cause it’s all Red to him. When he's not pissing and moaning about all things Liverpool, he’s chatting nonsense with his multiple personalities — or his “entourage” as he likes to call them.

7 thoughts on “Liverpool Look to Shake off Bad Luck in North London: Tottenham Preview

  • December 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm
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    A good read and quite a fair assessment, this game will tell us a lot about both teams Champions league credentials. Being a Spurs fan I can honestly say that it could go either way. I would expect Spurs to have the majority of play and have more shots etc BUT, you have Saurez, the most lethal striker on the planet at the moment and that’s a great asset to have. I get the feeling that Spurs are gradually getting it together and we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, should be a great game just hoping we can keep Saurez contained!!

  • December 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm
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    Thanks for stopping in!

    We’re going to learn a lot about both sides I think; whether or not we can cope without Gerrard will be the main factor for for. We looked good when he went off against West Ham, but your lot are a whole different story. If we can’t get Suarez the ball, he probably won’t be a factor.

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Spurs come out on top — either way, it’s going to be an entertaining, if not heart stopping, swear inducing, match.

  • December 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm
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    Enjoyable article and good to get the perspective of a Liverpool supporter on the upcoming game. As a Spurs fan I have a much greater familiarity with the way Spurs have been playing, but I have seen Liverpool several times this season, including the recent Hull game, so I have quite a good feel for how you are playing also

    I think quite clearly from our point of view it comes down to stopping Suarez, as without Sturridge (who I rate highly) and Stevie G, I don’t think you have anyone else who can really hurt us. I like Coutinho also, but he is not really a goal threat.

    Personally, I rate Suarez so highly, I would man-mark him with Sandro and of our two likely starting CB’s, I would have Capoue assigned to him also, as he is a lot more athletic than Dawson.

    Elsewhere around the park, like the other poster, I feel we will control a lot of the possession. I prefer our central midfield duo of Dembele and Paulinho, with Lennon and Townsend or Chadli tracking back deep, over Allen, Henderson and Lucas, although I think Lucas is a good player.

    Lennon has been running into a good vein of form recently and I think Flanagan will have his hands full, with Lennon’s pace and trickery.

    One potential weakness of yours that I have perceived is with Mignolet’s distribution. No doubt he is a good shot stopper, however I have seen him several times play his own man into trouble when put under pressure and sometimes with no pressure he has shown poor judgement in his throwing. [Mind you if you had seen the Man City game you could have said the same about Lloris on occasions!]

    Predictions? Honestly a close one to call! Your away form has not been great of late and we have a good record against you at WHL in recent years. However, you have Suarez! So if (and it’s a big if!) we can deprive Suarez of the ball then I will go for 1-0 to us.

  • December 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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    Sakho and Toure will probably start as Sakho was too good to drop and Skirt has let the mistakes creep back into his game. I instantly thought Liverpool would loose this game when I found out that Gerard will be out, but then I thought about it.

    The stats of Lucus in terms of Ball winning and Passing means he must be doing something very right.

    Allan seems like he might be back at his best, and again his ball winning and passing stats are very good.

    With those 2 I don’t see much creativity but it will be really hard to have more of the ball then Liverpool even though Liverpool are away from home.

    I think this game is going to end 0-0 or 0-1

  • December 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm
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    When Gerrard went off against West Ham and Lucas came on, the midfield trio of Allen, Henderson and Lucas controlled the match much better than when the skipper was on — I don’t have much a doubt that we can cope and won’t be overrun with those three playing, the only thing I worry about is chance creation.

    Gerrard has been either top or right near the top of the league for chances created and we’ll miss his range of passing.

  • December 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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    You’re certainly not wrong; I think you’ll control the midfield, but I have to disagree about Coutinho. He’s better at creating without question, but you give him a sight of goal and he’s going to have a crack.

    Dembele and Paulinho will make it interesting in the middle. I don’t think we’ll be overrun by any means — not like the days when you had Modric in the middle — but this will be a great test for us.

  • December 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm
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    Yes before today he was number 1 for assist with 6

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