Liverpool v Tottenham, Premier League, January 10, 2010
“I want to keep breaking these records so I am always in the history books of one of the greatest clubs in the world – and in the memories of the people… I want as many as we need to get fourth spot and win the FA Cup, because that is the aim of the whole team now, to ensure we can be successful this season.” â€“ Fernando Torres.
â€œHe is good but there are many good players in England. He is only one of them. You don’t have to be scared of him, otherwise you can’t play.â€ â€“ Sebastien Bassong on Torres.
With weather bringing English football to a standstill this week there has been no shortage of big talking in the press. As a result it should come as little surprise that the threat of Fernando Torres and Liverpoolâ€™s Champions League challenge has been touched upon as this match could be decided by the former and will have a huge bearing on the latter. (Liverpool are 2/1 to finish in the Top Four.)
Spurs travel to Anfield looking to repeat their win on the opening day of the season against Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Harry Redknappâ€™s side produced one of their best displays of the season and the Merseyside giants have struggled to pick up momentum since the defeat back in August.
Despite the fact Tottenham havenâ€™t won at Anfield in the league since August 1993, Harry Redknappâ€™s side travel to Anfield in great form and determined to hold on to fourth position. Heurelho Gomes has not conceded a goal in the last five games (Spurs are 5/1 to keep a clean sheet) and Spurs have been in excellent form since their surprise 1-0 defeat to Wolves. (Liverpool are 15/2 to win 1-0.)
Aaron Lennon is expected to miss out with the groin injury picked up in the win over West Ham which means Liverpool will have to deal with a Croatian on either wing, in Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar. The former Portsmouth schemer is in fine fettle, claiming a brace in the FA Cup last week against Peterborough and now looks to be one of the buys of the summer transfer window. (Spurs are 5/1 to score in both halves.)
Of the two ex-Liverpool strikers returning to Anfield, Peter Crouch should get the nod up front alongside Jermain Defoe, leaving Robbie Keane kicking his heels on the bench once more as Redknapp goes with his preferred strike force. With Gareth Bale stepping in for the injured Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Redknappâ€™s only dilemma is whether to start Sebastien Bassong or Ledley King alongside Michael Dawson in central defence.
This decision could be crucial as Fernando Torres is still Liverpoolâ€™s main danger man, as he proved with his last minute winner at Villa Park in their last Premier League match. Rafa Benitez has long been confident of a top four finish and if the Spaniard is to be proved right he will need his side to win this and close the gap with Spurs to one point. (Liverpool are 4/1 to win both halves & 4/1 to draw the first half and win the second.)
Liverpool have undoubtedly picked up a little since the demoralising defeat at Fratton Park. Wins over Wolves and Aston Villa, although unconvincing, have kept them in the race alongside the likes of Spurs and Manchester City and they undoubtedly have the quality to beat anyone on their day as they proved against Manchester United in October.
With Glen Johnson still out with a knee injury Stephen Darby should get the nod at right back after a solid display at Reading last week (Liverpool are 15/8 to keep a clean sheet) and, if his move from Atletico Madrid is completed in time, Maxi Rodriguez could make his debut. The Argentine winger has not played 90 minutes since September and it would be a surprise if he came in and took the place of Dirk Kuyt.
Increasingly desperate Liverpool fans will be hoping Steven Gerrard can make the difference in a midfield battle that could decide the game against Wilson Palacios. Spurs have every reason to feel confident but there has been a nagging suspicion for a while that the race for the Champions League spot will go down to the wire and Liverpool usually pull out their best performances when they really have to.
101gg predicts: Liverpool 2 â€“ Tottenham 1 (8/1)
Full match odds here.