By Christopher Boulay
It’s been nine matches, but Luis Suarez is finally able to be selected by manager Kenny Dalglish. Kenny has to be thrilled with this, as one of the most difficult matches of the season is on the horizon – home versus Tottenham.
Liverpool looks like a completely different side in recent weeks, and the club should give Tottenham all it can handle. But cliches aside, this could be the most difficult match of the season so far. In the 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane early in the season, Liverpool had absolutely no answer for the impressive play on the wings from Gareth Bale. Whether the Welsh superstar plays in defense or in midfield, he is guaranteed to cause the Reds issues.
Tottenham will need a significant effort from Bale, as the club is likely without Rafael van der Vaart, Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe, Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon. Any of them being able to make an appearance will boost their chances greatly, but Harry Redknapp’s boys still have a plethora of options.
American Brad Friedel has been spectacular in net for Spurs, and he should be joined by Benoit Assou Ekotto, Ledley King and Younes Kaboul in the back. Bale could be in a multitude of positions, but if he goes into the midfield, a lack of striking options could leave Tottenham with a packed middle of the pitch. Scott Parker, Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar could all see action.
Expect former Everton man Louis Saha to get the start up front if Defoe and Adebayor are unable to go.
For Liverpool, Steven Gerrard is likely back after receiving the match against Wolves off to rest. He could be joined by Charlie Adam in the center of the pitch, a partnership Dalglish has preferred, as of late. In addition, Craig Bellamy, who has scored seven goals in his last seven matches, may be able to partner with Suarez. If the two can get down to business quickly, it could not only be trouble for Tottenham, but could send a very intimidating message to the rest of the Premier League – namely Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle.
With Chelsea’s draw with Manchester United on Sunday, a win for Liverpool puts it within one point of fourth place, and ahead of both the Magpies and Gunners. A draw is likely the minimum that would be acceptable, with the three other candidates for fourth place getting important cogs back over the next week, with the African Cup of Nations nearing completion.
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur
When: Monday, February 6, 2000 GMT / 1500 EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League Table: Liverpool 7th (38 points), Tottenham 3rd (49 points)
Last Premier League Match: Wolves 0-3 Liverpool, Tottenham 3-1 Wigan
Probable Liverpool Starting XI:
DEF: Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique
MID: Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Downing
FW: Suarez, Bellamy
Subs from: Doni, Kelly, Coates, Carragher, Flanagan, Aurelio, Shelvey, Spearing, Henderson, Carroll
Probable Tottenham Starting XI:
DEF: Assou Ekotto. King, Dawson, Kaboul
MID: Bale, Parker, Modric, Livermore, Kranjcar
Subs from: Cudicini, Walker, Rose, Sandro, Adebayor, van der Vaart, Defoe, Lancaster
Interact: What’s your final score prediction? What’s your predicted starting eleven? Comment below.