Friday, November 26, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines - The view from White Hart Lane

As a part of a new series of articles on The Anfield Opinion football journalist and Spurs supporter Ben Hardy has answered our questions on the upcoming fixture at White Hart Lane. 

Spurs come in to the game having recently won two high-profile games against current European Champions Inter Milan and local rivals Arsenal. Do you feel - given Liverpool’s poor away form - that a win is almost a certainty for your side on Sunday?

Nothing is ever a certainty in this game. Yes, we are strong at home and yes Liverpool have performed poorly away from Anfield this season. Yet we have seen Liverpool win convincingly against Chelsea and Spurs lose at home to struggling Wigan.

Confidence is in abundance around White Hart Lane, from the players to the fans. For the first time in the Premier League era, Tottenham are the favourites in this tie and I’m sure Harry Redknapp’s team has nothing but a win firmly fixed in their minds. However, as we have seen so many times already this season, Spurs can suffer badly after a mid-week European match with poor results against Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic.

The fans would expect a win and they are being realistic in doing so, but it is certainly not a nailed on result.

Rafael Van Der Vaart has without question been one of the best players in the league this season, especially at White Hart Lane. How big an impact will his absence from the side have on Spurs should he miss the game?

It’s clearly bad news that the manager only rates him 50-50 for the game and would no doubt be a massive blow to have such a quality player missing. 7 goals in 7 White Hart Lane appearances is not something that can be achieved easily. His ability in the opposition box is outstanding and combined with his sublime touch and skill makes him one of the most dangerous players in world football and a massive loss for Tottenham.

 However, his absence has given Redknapp the opportunity to revert back to 4-4-2 and start with the fit again Jermain Defoe, who is always likely to cause trouble when he is partnered with his old pal Peter Crouch. It also gives Luka Modric a bit more freedom and the license to become the play maker and join in with the attacks.

Based on his season so far many Liverpool supporters feel Gareth Bale will be your main threat on Sunday. Who do you think, aside from Bale, can cause Liverpool the most problems? 

It’s true that the source of most of out attacks and goals is from the left hand side but hopefully it’s the right side that can cause some problems for Carragher and co on Sunday. Alan Hutton is enjoying a good spell in the team in which he’s shown some good attacking performances. Aaron Lennon is threatening to show good form after a good performance mid-week, and with Hutton behind him, it’s a position we can exploit against the Reds, especially if Liverpool start to switch their focus on stopping Bale.

Modric always carries a threat from the centre of midfield and Jermain Defoe will want to get back to scoring ways after coming as a substitute in the last two matches. Peter Crouch may feel he has something to prove against his former team, and with Defoe pushing for a start, he will be hoping to kick start the partnership and be one to inflict damage against Hodgson’s team. All of these players have the ability to pull out a man of the match performances and win us the game.

With Steven Gerrard out of the side travelling to London, Liverpool are far from full strength. Is there any players who you really fear going in to the game? 

Apart from the obvious threat of Torres and Joe Cole, for me, David N’gog is someone who can cause our defence problems.

Whether he starts or comes on from the bench, he is player who is always looking to get in behind players and get shots on target. We have already seen glimpses of his class this season, and his pace and energy give him the potential to be a match winner.

Finally, can we have a score prediction? 

1-1, We look to go into the game as favourites, however I feel the European hangover looks set to kick in once again. I’m sure Peter Crouch would love to get on the score sheet against his old club and I think he will.

You can follow Ben on Twitter.


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