Weather permitting Spurs travel to Anfield this Sunday afternoon for what is the first in a long line of â€˜big gamesâ€™ between now and the end of the season.Â As the countdown to May and the shakedown for Champions (yes please) and Europa (no thanks) League places approaches the importance of each ninety minutes will be magnified and pored over until almost all perspective is discarded like an under performing â€˜new David Beckhamâ€™.
Seeing as though the Scousers are battling with ourselves, Villa and Man City for the fourth to seventh spots, the significance of this match speaks for itself with no extra hype needed. Since being written off after the ten man loss to Pompey at Fratton Park, Liverpool have staged something of a mini fight back by seeing off Wolves on Boxing Day and then winning at Villa Park, so whilst weâ€™re dealing with a wounded animal, weâ€™re not dealing with one thatâ€™s given up by any means and Sebastien Bassong in particular should be careful about who heâ€™s verbally poking. Theyâ€™ll be viewing this game as a way they can measure themselves against one of their main competitors and Iâ€™m sure will be well and truly up for it.
Our run of defeats and draws at Anfield famously stretched back to the year of the sinking of the Titanic until Garth Crooksâ€™ winner in 1985. After a brief hiatus that also saw league wins there in 1986 and 1993 weâ€™ve resumed our dismal record of regular gubbings interspersed with spirited draws. Our recent away form has been better on paper than on grass (or snow); Heurelho Gomes was the major factor in us getting points at Ewood and Craven Cottage.Â Whilst we had our fair share of possession in both games we made very few chances. With no Lennon weâ€™re likely to show off a new (to the Premier League) midfield with Modric and Kranjcar playing wide of Huddlestone and Palacios. Corluka will probably return at right back meaning that all three Croatians will start for the first time. The lads in the West stand at the Wolves game with the â€˜Crottenhamâ€™ flag will be well chuffed.
Itâ€™d be great if we finish this game talking about Gareth Baleâ€™s attacking qualities, itâ€™s more likely though that his defensive prowess will be under the spotlight as he takes his place on the left in place of the injured Assou-Ekotto. Having Kranjcar instead of Modric in front of him will work in his favour, such are the wandering tendencies of our number 14. Assuming that Ledley hasnâ€™t done himself a mischief in the last fortnight Harry will have a choice to make at centre half. Bassong and Dawson have been performing so well together that either will feel himself unlucky if dropped but the option of having Kingâ€™s experience on the field will be very tempting.
Up front weâ€™ll have at least one striker whoâ€™ll know the home dressing room better than the away as either Robbie or Crouch will partner Defoe up front. Whichever one it is, letâ€™s hope that they get on well enough with referee for Sunday Howard Webb to the point where he doesnâ€™t feel too guilty when he awards us the dodgy spot kick he owes us after Old Trafford last year. If we play as well as we can though, we wonâ€™t need any help from the ref to put another nail in Rafaâ€™s coffin and tack on another three points to our total.
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