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After a month that saw the league campaign kind of falter, the FA Cup one surge with a win over Man United, a Final clinched with a two-legged victory over City, Liverpool get a breather this month with everyone's favorite second club coming for a visit, followed by the dinner party atmosphere they're sure to find at Old Trafford on Saturday, a ticket to the quarters of the FA Cup on offer, and that clinched Final. Then again, it's better than not having anything matter, doesn't it?
Liverpool, outside of Lucas, have the full squad to pick from. And with Chelsea dropping more points this morning in most hilarious fashion (or it would have been had they not bent over and presented a point to that opponent), there is ground to be gained in the chase for fourth. A win at Anfield on Monday and Liverpool will be all of two points back, though with Newcastle in between.
Because of that, we should see whatever Kenny thinks is the full-strength team right now, with Luis Suarez unlikely to be thrown right into it after a month of kicking it old school. The back line you know, and in midfield you can expect Kenny to try to outnumber what has been the dynamic force of Scott Parker and Luka Modric. That has to mean Spearing-Gerrard-Henderson, though Charlie Adam could find himself in there somewhere. But considering his love-hate relationship with ball retention and defending, I don't think that's likely. Up top and out wide, Dirk Kuyt's appetite for all the things most players hate probably sees him picked to help keep Welsh Jesus/Yahweh/Vishnu in check. Craig Bellamy is too sizzling to leave out, and now that we might actually have Andy Carroll unclogged and somewhat firing, you might as well ride that wave as far as it goes.
For Spurs, there are injury concerns. Van der Vaart, Adebayor, Defoe, Lennon, and Walker all have injury concerns, and Gallas and Huddlestone are definitely out -- though they don't matter much. That's most of Spurs' attacking impetus, with Adebayor having his normal effective first season for a club before his brain and mouth get in the way. Louis Saha could even see a start if all these injuries rule those players out.
But it's midfield where Tottenham become so electric, and they're pretty much full strength there. Modric, after stamping his feet and screaming to get to Chelsea, finally got over it and resumed kicking everyone's ass, with Parker providing the platform. Though on paper he's a bit advanced in age, Parker's legs were saved by a couple years of fetching tea at Chelsea. Aside from that stretch, he's been a wonderful player for Charlton, Newcastle, and West Ham, though two of those got relegated on his watch.
And then there's the greatest player ever, who's having his best season and is more than just a winger. Maybe Kenny will opt for the greater defensive shield of Martin Kelly to deal with him, but that's unlikely. Brad Friedel will have the chance to play a great match against Liverpool, everyone does, behind King and Kaboul. At least until King's kneecaps get up and walk out on their own, always a possibility.
The reverse of this fixture was the worst of the season. Liverpool never really bothered to show up, and got stink-fisted. Spurs have pace all over the pitch, if even close to remotely full strength, which is a problem for the Reds. They have a couple finishers in ruthless form. However, if Spearing and Gerrard can remain disciplined and determined, they can choke out Modric and Parker, and that will throttle a lot of Spurs' attack. But if they get to gung ho and leave Modric space, it's going to be Pepto time.
Big month, needs a big start. Liverpool have lost the leeway in losing points at home, or at all really, with those fixtures that leave us shaking and sweating from earlier in the season. A win, and the pursuit of 4th is well and truly on.