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Match Preview: Liverpool v. Tottenham Hotspur, 11.28.10

Liverpool head to North London for the early evening kickoff on Sunday.

And, unfortunately for Noel, it's not yet a trip to the Emirates. Bide your time, though.

That link above has something that's sort of like a preview from the Spurs side of things---it's got musings on Harry Redknapp, Gareth Bale, the longshot possibility of the aforementioned groundshare, and which famed military figure the current iteration of Spurs most resembles. So I guess there's really actually quite little information about the football that can be derived from that link, but it's a much more interesting read than what's about to unfold.

We all likely know plenty about Spurs already this season, and in the past week they've managed a comeback win at the Emirates and a 3-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen at White Hart Lane. Efficient in their efforts to establish themselves as continental yet having some difficulty maintaining their status in league, Harry Redknapp's side pose just as big a threat as any other host team Liverpool have faced this season. That doesn't take anything away from the particulars that make Tottenham a quality squad, but when your manager has won only 7 away matches in his last 70 (thanks Natalya), the prospect of any match away from home is frightening.

Let's cover those particulars in brief, because Spurs obviously have their fair share of talent---Gareth Bale's the Warren Barton Player of the Millenium, so there's that, and there's a bevy of talent in the rest of the midfield as well. They could be without Rafael van der Vaart, who's struggling with an ankle injury, and Jermaine Jenas, who might miss with a calf problem. But they'll still have Bale, Luka Modric, and Aaron Lennon, which is more than enough to worry Liverpool's fullbacks.

Up front they're familiar enough, with Peter Crouch likely to feature, and Roman Pavlyuchenko or Jermain Defoe possibilities to partner the former Liverpool man. Whoever it is, they'll likely just fucking run around a bit in attack.

If there's anything worth noting as a major area of concern for Spurs, it's in defense---consistent injury worries have made life difficult, and they've only kept one clean sheet all season in league. Redknapp has recently gone with Alan Hutton, Younes Kaboul, William Gallas, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto across the back, and unless Michael Dawson makes a full return, that's what Liverpool will face in front of Heurelho Gomes.

1. Who will start for Liverpool?
2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?
3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

1. Who will start for Liverpool?

Johnson Carragher Skrtel Konchesky
Maxi Lucas Meireles Cole

---Joe Cole is apparently back and raring to go, and Lucas returns from his ban. Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, and Jay Spearing are all ruled out through injury.

---The back line seems to be somewhat solidified with the return of Glen Johnson---after his performance against West Ham, and the resulting self-congratulations from Hodgson, I'd imagine he's in for the long term. Like, January at least. Nothing like a public dressing-down followed by a good display to make a manger feel good about himself. Carragher and Skrtel continue to look like the first-choice pairing in central defense, and the steely-eyed Englishman will keep Fabio Aurelio from first-team football at left back.

---Hopefully the return of Lucas keeps Christian Poulsen out of the starting eleven, but I doubt there's any guarantees. The reaction to Poulsen's shift against West Ham was marvelous---all of a sudden suggesting that he's still average was blasphemy, everyone knew he had it in him, and he was just treated unfairly. Let's get real, it was the first time he wasn't a complete black hole, and it was against a West Ham side that barely had a pulse. So yeah, Lucas. If Joe Cole truly is ready to go, my guess is that it's he and Maxi in the pseudo-wide areas.

---We've seen two men up top since Dirk Kuyt returned for the Chelsea match, and tomorrow could be more of the same. It was the continually improving David Ngog against West Ham, but with this one being on the road in a large-ish match, my feeling is that we see Kuyt playing in a partnering/supporting role with Fernando Torres.

2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?

There's something to be said here about self-belief and self-confidence, but I can't figure out a way to say it without sounding like a complete sap. We've seen the glimpses of Liverpool as a forward-thinking side, even away from Anfield. But those have been drowned out by displays marred with the fear of losing---displays which, in a tragic irony, have been losses.

So there's a level of confidence I'd like to see Liverpool play with tomorrow, and I don't think it's a confidence that's completely incongruous with the level of talent in the squad. It's probably down to the level of confidence that Hodgson has in the squad, which, to this point, doesn't seem like much. If they can find a way to change that, I think the result is there to be taken. But if it's like Stoke or Wigan or Everton, it's going to be another away day horror show.

3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

For whatever reason, I'm saying 2-1 to Liverpool. I don't know if I've been bludgeoned to death by the "Spurs struggle after midweek Champions League matches" narrative or if I just really think Liverpool can grind one out; regardless, I think it's all three points for the Reds.

Tomorrow will be the first league match this season that I'll miss completely---my flight back home from the long weekend spans kickoff to the final whistle, so I'll be watching the recorded version after I get back. I'll still put the matchday post up with streams and links late tonight, but I'll have to rely on Noel or others to update team sheets and news in the comments. For those with service, it'll be on Sky Sports in the UK and Fox Soccer Channel in the US.

Hope you've all had a nice weekend so far, and let's all hope for a nice ending tomorrow.

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