Number one of 38: Spurs v Liverpool
Spurs v Liverpool Preview
And so it begins.
Home to Liverpool. It’s more of a fluttering than a buzz, with the butterflies in my gut. I love that nervousness you get pre-match mixed up with a little adrenaline and plenty of boisterous confidence wrapped up in unequivocal undying love for all things Lilywhite. No matter the mis-adventures and disappointments and transitions, you can never say its boring supporting Tottenham. For a club outside the top 4 we don’t do too badly with the finances and the ability to attract top class players. It’s what we do with it (or don’t) on the pitch when it matters that has us pulling our hair out and sighing with the knowledge that we should be doing so much better. Money get’s spent, money always get’s spent – but now and again we need to see some end product. So here we are again, at the beginning with 38 games ahead of us.
And up against another ‘nearly team’ who always look towards next season.
Harry has a clean slate. No mess to tidy up. The players have banished the lack of effort and direction of those opening eight games of season 2009 with what followed after. We’ve been re-built to some degree, reclaiming the basics and earning the points won, with belief. That’s Harry and his man-management. Hug here and a hug there.
We deserve a better start this time round. And what better way to start by claiming victory against Liverpool. I’ll settle with a clever point. Played us off the park last season at the Lane, but we dug deep and battled on and won it. That type of commitment elevated us. That same type of commitment with assured confidence should see us sharing the play across 90 minutes this time round. Reckon it will simply come down to who takes their chances. Not an easy game for Bassong, with Torres no doubt being Liverpool’s key player. Gerrard apparently a doubt (no shocker if he’s fit to play). But disappointingly Carragher is also 50/50 for the game thanks to an ankle injury. He always seems to score. For us. No Aquilani either for the Reds. And the fact Alonso is no longer with them is something to smile about considering how good he was at the Lane when they were last here (in the Prem), controlling the game with his exquisite passing.
Bassong will need to be a rock. Tough ask for him on his ‘debut’. The worry is whether his nerves will get the better of him. Back in the Prem, but at least he has a unit around him, unlike the calamity at Newcastle. King should be able to give him the confidence to hold it together. Corluka will have to keep Babel at bay. That one might be tricky.
Palacios must boss the midfield, and everyone around him has to work their socks off as Liverpool will not be pushovers. The key here is: Who will partner Wilson in the middle, with JJ ‘injured’? We have to match their effort, and stop them from playing possession football. Hassle, pressure and break their play up. Might be the perfect game for O’Hara to impress. Mascherano and Lucas the likely centre pairing for them, but with Gerrard likely to play it means that we need to be busy to stop them from powering forward. Wilson will have to do battle with Mascherano and have his eyes on Stevie Me. Which means O’Hara has to step up to the job in a big way.
When we do have the ball – give it to Luka and Aaron. Modric took his time to settle to life in the Prem and now he’s more than ready to dazzle from the off. Remember what Berbatov did for us in his first season? Moddle can have the same type of impact in his second. When he ticks, the rest tock. As for Lennon. Just give him the ball. Hope Harry has told him to run at the fullbacks. Early yellow card for bringing him down and Aaron should make sure he keeps on running at them. Doesn’t always do this enough when an opposing defender gets booked.
Keane will have a point to prove (if played). To himself, the fans and Rafa. Pav – who has looked sharp in pre-season also has a point or two to prove everyone. Harry, me, you and the critics. Refreshed from the summer months, no idea if he can speak a word of English yet, but hopefully his composure and his shots on goal are vastly improved. You can tell Defoe just wants to go out there and rip it up. Having Crouch will be about 100 times more effective than Darren Bent. But Harry may well opt for the Russian ahead of the Robot and Robbie. He does love a goal against them.
But most of all, where the truth sits ready to jump up and either hug us or slap us, we have to show that we want it. Liverpool will want to win this, especially with what Chelsea and Arsenal did on Saturday and Utd likely to win their game. And most will fancy their chances. Two league defeats throughout the whole of last season.
But one of them did come at the Lane.