Tottenham will be expected to showcase their title credentials following last week’s 3-2 derby day victory against Arsenal.
With the Premier League as unpredictable as ever, manager Harry Redknapp believes that Spurs have as good a chance as anybody to claim the ultimate prize, and given Chelsea and Manchester United’s far from convincing form of late, who could argue with him?
Up until last Saturday’s victory at the Emirates, their first win at Arsenal in 17 years, Spurs had notoriously failed to achieve a result against any of the traditional top four away from home, but the result against their North London neighbors is a perfect example of how Harry Redknapp’s team has progressed under his guidance.
The destruction of European Champions Inter at White Hart Lane in the Champions League, just two weeks prior to that derby day victory, pinpoints the fact that this Tottenham team have to be taken seriously as the season enters its crucial stage.
Liverpool has embarked on a small road to recovery in recent games following a dismal start to the season under Roy Hodgson.
The highlight of their campaign thus far was a recent victory over Chelsea at Anfield. However, they then dropped four points on their travels to Wigan and Stoke City, before a convincing victory over West Ham United at home provided three much needed points.
Consequently, they are now just six points off fourth place, and victory over Spurs could inspire the kind off run that is needed if the team are to live up to the expectations of their supporters, who have endured a torrid 18 months. The key, clearly, is to improve their hitherto tepid away form.
Rafael van der Vaart is rated at 50-50 in his bid to regain match fitness in time to face Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. The Dutch international, who has arguably been the signing of the season so far since his £8 million switch from Real Madrid, did not play on Wednesday night as Spurs eased their way into the last 16 of the Champions League.
Fellow midfielder Jermaine Jenas is considered a major doubt for Harry Redknapp’s high fliers after limping off in the 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen.
Jermain Defoe is vying for a return to the team after impressing as a second half substitute in the remarkable comeback win against fierce rivals Arsenal at the Emirates.
Harry Redknapp also welcomes back Michael Dawson but is still without long term injury victims Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Jamie O’Hara.
Probable starting XI: Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Defoe, Crouch.
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is contemplating whether to reinstate Joe Cole into his starting line-up. The former Chelsea man has missed the last five games for the gradually improving Reds.
Captain Steven Gerrard is still injured after damaging his hamstring during England’s defeat by France last week, but Fabio Aurelio is back and Brazilian midfielder Lucas returns to the fold after serving his suspension.
Jamie Carragher will make his 450th appearance in the Premier League when he captains Liverpool in Gerrard’s absence.
Probable starting XI: Reina; Konchesky, Carragher, Skrtl, Johnson; Maxi, Meireles, Poulsen, Cole, Kuyt; Torres.