Tottenham v Liverpool
Barclays Premier League
16th Aug 2009
Kick Off : 16:00
Ground: White Hart Lane
The new season has finally arrived, Liverpool kick off the 2009-10 campaign this Sunday against Tottenham at White Hart Lane – the sixth season in a row where Liverpool have been given an away trip for their opening match by the Premier League. After a long Summer with the interminable saga surrounding Xabi Alonso finally over, Benitez will now be turning his attentions to Sunday.
Tottenham at White Hart Lane will provide a very stern test. Liverpool suffered just two defeats throughout the whole of last season and one of those defeats did come in London against Spurs. Since Harry Redknapp took over at Tottenham last October, Tottenham‘s home form under Redknapp has been extremely impressive, winning 10, drawing four and only losing one game which moved Tottenham from the relegation zone into eight position in the table.
Spurs have been relatively active in the Summer transfer window so far, Sebastien Bassong signed from Newcastle United for an estimated Â£8 million and is likely to make his debut on Sunday.
Redknapp has also signed Sheffield United pair of Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker for an estimated combined total of Â£10 million, while Peter Crouch will get a good reception from the travelling Liverpool supporters after re-joining Tottenham for a reported Â£10 million.
Spurs have enjoyed a relatively successful pre-season where they opened their campaign with a 3-0 away win at Exeter City. They then travelled to AFC Bournemouth where they recorded another 3-0 win and then trashed Peterborough United 4-0. They then took part in the Wembley Cup where they were held 1-1 to a Barcelona second string side but lost their second game 2-0 to Celtic at Wembley.
Tottenham then travelled to Asia where they comfortably won the Barclays Asia Cup beating West Ham and Hull. Their pre-season was finished off in style with a good win and performance against Olympiakos winning 3-0 with goals from Pavlyuchenko, Corluka and Defoe..
Tottenhams Team Prediction
The injuries to both Johnathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson is a welcome boost for Liverpool, Gareth Bale and Alan Hutton have also received treatment on their injuries this week and also look likely to miss out, while Ledley King is expected to return following his 45 minutes of action against Olympiakos.
Gomes will take his position in goal for Spurs, while Corluka will probably take the right back position, Bassong is likely to make his debut at centre back alongside King while i’d expect Assou-Ekotto to occupy the left back position.
Jenas missed Tottenhams pre-season game last weekend through injury but id expect him to return with Lennon, Modric, Jenas and Palacios forming their midfield.
However, the forward positions will be interesting, Crouch is likely to start against his former club, but will Defoe or Keane partner him?
Liverpools Team Prediction
The major questions will be who will start in defence in-front of Reina, but news from Melwood suggests Rafa has avoided one pre-season catastrophe with the news that Jamie Carragher emerged from Saturday’s friendly defeat to Atletico Madrid with only a minor twist to his ankle while Martin Skrtel also looks set to return in time for our trip to While Hart Lane after featuring in a behind closed doors friendly against Oldham at the Academy on Wednesday afternoon.
I’m looking forward to seeing Glen Johnson make his Premiership debut for the Reds at right back ‘“ our third most expensive signing in Liverpools entire history and our most expensive English player ever bought! Johnson will bring a new dimension to Liverpools attacking play, hes comfortable on the ball and i’m hoping to see him over-lap Dirk Kuyt on the right and deliver crosses into the box, he has the vision to create chances and deliver pinpoint crosses or pull backs from the bylines. Young Emiliano Insua is likely to keep his place at left back.
Midfield is likely to see Mascherano and Lucas, both players will play a pivotal role on Sunday, keeping possession will be the key. The game could be won in that midfield area, Spurs are very strong upfront at the moment and are capable of good quick balls into feet and are capable of some dangerous interplay.
Lucas has began to show his full potential during pre-season and his recent mistakes last year will have provided him with a steep learning curve so its vital the young Brazilian bounces back for the start of this season and believes in himself to fulfil his undoubted promise.
Kuyt will undoubtedly start out on the right with Benayoun likely to start on the left, with Gerrard and Torres upfront.
Player to watch :
Well its got to be Robbie Keane for me, Robbie Keane found goals hard to come by during his six-month stint on Merseyside last season but the Irish striker will be desperate to find the net on Sunday.
Key head to head :
Like Liverpool, Harry Redknapp has seen his backline hit hard by injury over pre-season. With Bassong likely to make his Tottenham debut, Bassong will be looking to impress and become the bedrock of the Tottenham defence this season but he faces a tough challenge on his debut and will have to keep a close eye on Fernando Torres. Torres has an all-round game to trouble any defence with his pace, dribbling, ability in the air and clinical finishing.
Last Five Meetings
24/05/09 Liverpool 3-1 Tottenham (Premier League)
12/11/08 Tottenham 4-2 Liverpool (League Cup)
01/11/08 Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
11/05/08 Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool (Premier League)
07/10/07 Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham (Premier League)
Since the inception of the Premier League, Liverpool have won 16 and lost eight of the 33 meetings with Tottenham home and away, however, Liverpool travelled to White Hart Lane last year twice in the Premiership and the League Cup and lost both games. I envisage a close 2-1 win for Liverpool with a special Torres goal and a goal from Dirk Kuyt to give us a much needed win to start our season!