Tottenham Club Focus - Midfield battle the key at against Liverpool
Tottenham Hotspur visit Anfield tonight in a crucial Premier League clash; the third place high flyers taking on seventh placed Liverpool with both sides looking for three points. A Liverpool victory would see them move up a place just behind Chelsea and Newcastle United in the hunt for fourth, whilst Spurs will be looking for three points to keep them in touching distance of the two Manchester clubs and re-establish a nine point gap to Chelsea.
Spurs have won their last three meetings against Liverpool, including a 4-0 humiliation of the Reds earlier this season at White Hart Lane – the heaviest defeat for Liverpool since manager Kenny Dalglish’s return. However, that match may have acted as a catalyst for the Reds, who since then have had one of the most consistent defences in the league. Liverpool are also unbeaten at Anfield this season, though much to their frustration have drawn seven of their 11 home games. In fact after 11 home games, Liverpool have only twice amassed fewer points in the 19 seasons since the inception of the Premier League.
Spurs have several injury concerns, with Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe, William Gallas and Tom Huddlestone unlikely to make the trip, and both Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor in a race to recover from recent injuries. However, considering the importance of the game, both may well start. The concerns though may well see new signings Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen on the bench. Liverpool can call on Luis Suarez with the completion of his eight match ban for the racial abuse of Patrice Evra, though lacking match fitness, the Uruguayan may start on the bench. Steven Gerrard should also return after being rested for the Wolves match.
The key maybe Liverpool’s midfield selection and whether Dalglish sets up the team in a defensive mode or more attack minded. The Scot, wary of the pace of Bale may deploy the hard working Dirk Kuyt on the right wing over Jordan Henderson or Craig Bellamy to negate the Welsh flyer. Dalglish may have headache in central midfield, with the choice of which combination of Charlie Adam, Steven Gerrard and Jay Spearing to use. Gerrard may start, but the selection alongside him may be a determining factor in the match. Charlie Adam leads the Reds in assists but both him and Gerrard are attack minded and should leave plenty of space behind them for Spurs to take advantage of. The Lilywhites of Bale, van der Vaart and Luka Modric, certainly have the ability to do so. With Lennon out, manager Harry Redknapp may select Sandro and Scott Parker to sit in front of the back four and push Luka Modric further forward, also exploiting any gap. Spearing has covered for the injured Lucas in a defensive mode and may do so here with Adam on the bench. This may reduce Liverpool’s attacking threat in the centre where they have been strong, with Adam supplying through balls but is not guaranteed to succeed as Spurs with 85% average pass accuracy, pace and movement have the ability to overcome any team.
The match should be closer than earlier this season, but Spurs may need to be at their best and more clinical to take three points and continue their winning run over the Reds.
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