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Premier League Preview: Liverpool - Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT Anfield, Liverpool
The scene is set for an intriguing game as an underachieving Liverpool entertain high-flying Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Wednesday night. With neither side successful in their last league outing, four points separate the fourth-placed Lilywhites from the seventh-placed Reds.

Although the spotlight will be firmly focused on the hosts, Harry Redknapp’s men will view this match as an opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and their opponents. A victory will reaffirm the opinion that they are serious contenders for the much sought after Champions League place.

Liverpool will at least be hoping not to lose and to regain some pride after last weeks’ shocking result, and performance to match, against Championship strugglers Reading. All is not well within the halls of Anfield - Ryan Babel Twittering his way into trouble, and rumours of bust-ups between Steven Gerrard and Rafael Benitez rife. A result against Tottenham may just help to ease some of the worries harboured by the Kop faithful.

The omens look good for the home side as Redknapp looks to break a duck that has seen him walk away from Anfield without a single victory. Spurs have failed to beat Liverpool in any competition since 1998. However, the Londoners’ away form is respectable as they remain undefeated in their last four away games. They were also victorious against their hosts in a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane on the season’s opening weekend.

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool

Jan 16: Stoke City 1-1 Liverpool
Jan 13: Liverpool 1-2 (AET) Reading (FA Cup)
Jan 2: Reading 1-1 Liverpool (FA Cup)
Dec 29: Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool
Dec 26: Liverpool 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Tottenham Hotspur

Jan 16: Tottenham 0-0 Hull City
Jan 2: Tottenham 4-0 Peterborough United (FA Cup)
Dec 28: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham United
Dec 26: Fulham 0-0 Tottenham
Dec 19: Blackburn Rovers 0-2 Tottenham

TEAM NEWS

Liverpool

The onus is on the Liverpool frontline to fill the boots of attacking absentees Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun. Nabil El Zhar and youngster Martin Kelly are still sidelined with ankle injuries along with England international Glen Johnson, who will miss out due to a knee injury.

The much-maligned Ryan Babel should return to the squad after being left out of the trip to the Britannia Stadium at the weekend. Alberto Aquilani, Albert Riera and new signing Maxi Rodriguez will be pushing for a first-team berth.  

Starting XI (vs Stoke City): Reina; Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Insua; Degen, Lucas, Mascherano, Aurelio; Kuyt, Ngog.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs will be without the services of Aaron Lennon, Jonathan Woodgate and Alan Hutton, who are all suffering from groin complaints. Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Carlo Cudicini are also unavailable with hip and wrist injuries respectively. Meanwhile, Tom Huddlestone and Ledley King remain doubtful.

Jamie O’Hara is an option for gaffer Redknapp after returning from a successful loan spell at Portsmouth. Peter Crouch may start alongside Jermaine Defoe to face his former employers.

Starting XI (vs Hull City): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Bale; Modric, Huddlestone, Palacios, Kranjcar; Defoe, Keane.


PLAYERS TO WATCH


Liverpool

Maxi Rodriguez could make his full debut for Liverpool after signing from Athletico Madrid on a free transfer. The Argentine international will be looking to provide some much-needed attacking zest having scored eight times in 24 appearances for Los Colchoneros this term.

The £20 million Alberto Aquilani is yet to set the Premier League alight and the pressure is mounting on the Italian to justify his hefty price-tag. With Steven Gerrard absent, there is a desperate need for Aquilani to recapture some of the form he displayed during his Roma days.
  
Tottenham Hotspur

Luka Modric, the Croat conjurer, has successfully reclaimed his first-team place in the Tottenham side after recovering from a broken leg. He will be called upon to add attacking guile to a side that have failed to net in two of their last three league games.

Two former Liverpool players return to Anfield in the forms of Robbie Keane and most notably Peter Crouch. The bean-pole striker is poised to make his 300th club start in a career that saw him net 42 goals in 134 games for the Merseysiders. His aerial threat will be a constant thorn in a shaky Liverpool rearguard.

PREDICTION

A victory for either side will give a huge psychological boost in the race for fourth place. Spurs have a poor record at Anfield - they have not won there in the league since 1993 - but with more tried and tested attacking options than their hosts, the goal threat possessed by Redknapp’s men cannot be overlooked.

Liverpool at home by no means guarantees a victory these days, as Reading’s success in the FA Cup clearly demonstrates. The absence of the triumvirate that is Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun will be significant, but with home support, the Reds may have just enough to eke out a goal from somewhere. Both sides will desperate to win, or at least not to lose. Thus, this has all the makings of a draw.   

Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

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Paddy’s Prediction – Liverpool vs Spurs!


Having won comfortably in the reverse fixture at the start of the season and considering Liverpool’s current form, Spurs are tastily priced at 2/1 to do the league double over the Reds for the first time since the days before the Premier League.


Liverpool – 11/8
Draw – 9/4
Tottenham – 2/1

Liverpool First Goal


D N'Gog 6/1
D Kuyt 13/2
R Babel 8/1
M Rodriguez 9/1
N El Zhar 10/1
A Riera 12/1
A Aquilani 16/1
 
Spurs First Goal


J Defoe 11/2
R Keane 13/2
P Crouch 7/1
M Dawson 40/1
S Bassong 50/1

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