English Premier League: 5 Predictions for the Liverpool vs. Tottenham Match
A week ago, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez complained that his team lost 3-1 at White Hart Lane not because the Tottenham side they faced was a vastly superior team, but because of the transfer window.
If that's the case (it's not), then Mick McCarthy and Wolverhampton must have faltered under the pressure of January as well. They lost 3-0 to a Liverpool team that surely had no transfer speculation whatsoever to deal with.
But now that the nauseating high school-caliber gossip of the January transfer window has (thankfully) ended, Wigan can focus on their quest for relegation and the rest of England can focus on playing football.
And while a win is a win, both Tottenham and Liverpool will have to forget their romps against the lesser sides. They can expect a more steadfast challenge on Monday when Spurs travel to Anfield in the return fixture of their September 14th matchup.
Monday's match is certainly not as high profile as the one that precedes it (Manchester United's miracle comeback at Chelsea for those who missed it). But it is every bit as relevant in both the title hunt and the fight for fourth.
The Anfield faithful will be baying for Lilywhite blood as they look to avenge the 4-0 thrashing they received in London, while Kenny Dalglish and Co. will look to continue their uphill battle to secure European football of any kind. The Red half of Merseyside has experienced a roller-coaster season and a win against Tottenham could help to steady them.
For Tottenham, the match is an opportunity to crawl two points closer to second-placed Manchester United, whose spirited effort against the Blues ultimately saw them lose ground in the title hunt. It's also a chance to continue a stellar run against the Reds.
So with that said, here are five predictions for the Tottenham's trip to Liverpool.
The First Half Will End 0-0
Only Luka Modric's seventh-minute rocket separated the two sides at halftime in September.
Even after Charlie Adam earned his trip to the locker room a half hour into the match, Tottenham failed to find the back of the net again before the 45-minute mark. And that was at White Hart Lane.
While Tottenham are certainly the more potent side at the moment, Anfield is a notoriously hostile environment. With the Reds fans spurring their team on, I doubt Tottenham will find a breakthrough before the whistle.
Having said that, Liverpool don't have the ability or the belief to break down Tottenham's athletic back four either. With Luis Suarez' probable return to the starting XI, Liverpool might have the better first half, but they will continue to struggle in front of goal.
The first forty-five minutes will ultimately see a cagey midfield battle with Liverpool playing for revenge by battering Tottenham's players and earning a few cards in the process. There may be two or three decent-to-solid chances, but nothing more.
The Reds Will See Red
Much like the September match, Liverpool will see at least one man sent off.
He was not at his brilliant best the last time these two teams met, but Gareth Bale's left-wing runs were dangerous enough to draw the two fouls that saw Martin Skrtel receive his marching orders. And with his new-found freedom to roam the pitch, the Welshman will look to terrorize the entire Liverpool back line, drawing more than a few fouls in the process.
As Tottenham slowly edge ahead in the overall play, a frustrated Liverpool will resort to hard tackling and desperate defense. Eventually, someone will get caught out, make a rash challenge and earn a second yellow.
Who gets sent off will depend on where Bale focuses his attacks, but Tottenham's No. 3 will certainly play a role in it. There are two possibilities:
1. Gareth Bale will draw in a late tackle as he blazes by.
2. The Liverpool defense will focus too heavily on Gareth Bale and leave someone else open, which will result in a desperate/professional foul.
My money is on Charlie Adam, who has a penchant for hard fouls against Tottenham.
Andy Carroll Will Score
I seem to be in a very slim minority when I say that Andy Carroll will eventually live up to his potential, if not his ludicrous £35 million price-tag.
He works as hard as anyone in the side and has progressively gotten better with his passing—his flick-ons have become a potent source of offense for the Reds. Over the past few months, he has looked more and more confident on and off the ball and within Dalglish's pass-and-move system as a whole.
And last week, he finally ended his scoring drought against Wolves in a Man of the Match performance.
Thus far, his Premier League goals for Liverpool have come in pairs—two against Manchester City last season and two in two starts last October. On Monday, he will continue that form.
However, his goal won't be anything more than a consolation...
Tottenham Will Win 3-1
It may be because of a man advantage, it may be because of Gareth Bale's brilliant form or it may just be because they are the better team at the moment. But after 90 minutes, Tottenham will run out a relatively comfortable win.
Spurs' form against Liverpool the past two seasons has been outstanding (nine points from 12) and Liverpool have not improved enough to make anyone think Monday will be any different. The return of Luis Suarez actually looks like it may disrupt any chemistry the current lineup is forging. His tendency to dance in front of goal rather than make a decision will cost them.
It won't be another four-goal domination, but Tottenham have more than enough talent and momentum to see off the Merseyside club to make it four wins in a row against the Reds.
As for the scorers for Tottenham, Scott Parker will open his Tottenham account, Adebayor will end his run of seven games without a goal and Luka Modric will continue his goal-scoring form against Liverpool. I expect Bale will be responsible for creating a goal or two as well.
Scott Parker Will Be Man of the Match
Industry in the midfield will decide this game and there's no one better than Scott Parker.
At first, he'll be tasked with halting Luis Suarez' mazy runs and he's more than capable of doing just that. His endless energy and determination are more than enough to frustrate the easily flustered Uruguayan striker. And, as always, Parker will be called upon to stifle the opponent's passing game, which he does so well.
But as the momentum in this game leans more and more toward the away side, Parker's consistent and smart passing alongside the dynamic Luka Modric will open up Liverpool's defense, paving the way for Bale and Co. to lay siege to Pepe Reina's goal.
I expect he'll earn himself a yellow card at some point, quite possibly on Suarez. That means he'll have to be substituted late on for Tottenham's closer, Sandro, in the face of a last-ditch Liverpool effort.
But he's not afraid to get his hands dirty; and against a Liverpool side hunting for revenge, that's just what Tottenham needs to earn their three points.