Two re-shaping teams square off (see what I did there?)
The narrative for this one is pretty easy. Two new managers, two clubs under-performing (depending on what the expectations were from various sources), two teams struggling for form, direction, and success. Oh, and I suppose there's the subplot of Clint Dempsey playing against the team he seemingly wanted to join but didn't. But I think everyone's past caring about that at this point, and his tepid performances in North London have helped to tamper that down.
You start to struggle to find oxygen when you remember this is Liverpool's fourth match in 11 days. And pretty much all of the first-choice team (or the seven or eight who are locks for that title) have been involved in all before this and will almost certainly have to be involved again at White Hart Lane. If Liverpool's thin squad was ever going to crack, you feel like it's approaching now.
There are too many questions facing the lineup changes. The first on my mind is whether Gerrard can get this match. I don't think he can, but I don't think he'll be dropped either. Both he and Allen have been gasping lately, and against a pretty dynamic Dembele you'd like some fresh legs in there. But the only fresh legs are Sahin and Shelvey. Jonjo plays too far forward which would mean Gerrard in a deeper role, and Sahin hasn't been up to the pace of these high-intensity league matches. None of that makes you feel better. The guess here is after three straight matches, or the majority of them, Henderson is sat in favor of Shelvey and Gerrard will try and combine with Allen behind him. The Captain must maintain his discipline, because a counter of Bale, Lennon, Defoe, and Dempsey with Dembele behind could be devastating.
The next is how Rodgers wants to deal with Welsh Jesus. Widsom is apparently fit, but do we really want to see him in charge of shackling Bale? It'll either be Sterling or Suso in front of him, I don't know how much support that'll really be (though Sterling hasn't shirked his tracking back very much at all, but still he's 17). The conservative approach would be to keep Johnson at right back and slide Enrique back to his natural position, though you lose what he's brought up top. I think that's what happens, with Suso going back to a flank on either side of Suarez. The other option is the three at the back that we've seen before to give Wisdom the support of a centerback behind him. But that lineup has been punchless in its last few outings, so I'm skeptical we'll see that.
This also seems like a lot to ask of Sterling, but there's really no other option. Assaidi hasn't been trusted with a league match yet, and this isn't the time or place. Joe Cole? Stewart Downing? Yeah, you wouldn't count on it.
As for Spurs, you feel like any combo of Dawson, Caulker, and especially Gallas can be gotten at. Vertonghen is a danger from fullback for sure. Defoe is in sizzling form, and Sandro is a bit of a beast as a holder. It would be the stiffest test Shelvey has seen if he's the most advanced.
This season has yet to see a signature win. This would most definitely qualify, considering the manner of the last two defeats at this ground. The humiliating experience of Paul Konchesky and the disappearance last year (and of course, Charlie Adam). A win puts Liverpool right on Spurs' shoulder, one point behind. Four points from these two fixtures would have been taken before they started.
I'm tired of being patient or calming myself down after matches. I want something genuine to hold onto. You do too. Go and fucking get it, Reds.
This is also your thread, and the match is live on ESPN3 if you can get it. You probably can at work. Should up your productivity.