Spurs on a high

2010-11-26 14:37

London - Although Tottenham are only three points and three places above Liverpool in the Premier League standings, the home team are in the unfamiliar position of being the overwhelming favourite when the sides meet at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Tottenham's comeback win at Arsenal last weekend and midweek qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League have lifted players' confidence following an inconsistent run.

"After Saturday, I think the players know we can do something," defender William Gallas said. "We have the quality, so what we have to understand is to believe in ourselves and go on the pitch and fight for 90 minutes."

In the long term, the club are hoping for a trophy or two. For now, a third straight home win over Liverpool will do.

Victory could take Spurs to the brink of fourth place, where they finished last season to reach the Champions League for the first time. Wednesday's 3-0 win over Werder Bremen clinched a place in the next round and the north London club could even top their group ahead of defending champions Inter Milan.

So, a match against a team that have won only once away from home this season should pose few fears.

"The away form has been bad for a long time," Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said. "We've had one good victory and a couple of reasonable draws but I'm afraid in this league away victories are hard to come by.

"We've not been a lucky team so far, whatever we've got we've had to battle for."

With Rafael van der Vaart doubtful for Sunday's match, Peter Crouch could keep his place in attack to renew his partnership with Jermain Defoe. Defoe has played as a substitute in the last two matches following two months out with an ankle injury.

Midfielder Jermaine Jenas is likely to be out with a calf injury that forced his early substitution against Bremen, while defender Michael Dawson is resuming training following knee ligament damage but is not yet ready to play.

"We had some great individuals when I was at Liverpool, and we managed to reach the Champions League final, which was fantastic, but as a group of players I don't think I've played with better," Crouch said. "It's not just the team, it's the squad. We've got so many international players waiting to get on and get a game.

"It's just a pleasure being part of it."

Liverpool is rated a 3-1 outsider by bookmakers to win the match but beat last-place West Ham 3-0 last weekend to bounce back from a 1-1 draw with Wigan and 2-0 defeat at Stoke.

"I don't think mentality comes into it," Hodgson said. "I believe if we continue to play the way we did against West Ham we may get one or two but it is the level of performance which counts."

Hodgson will be without captain Steven Gerrard because of the hamstring he tore playing for England last week but Joe Cole could return after being sidelined since October 31 with a similar problem.

With Bolton hosting Blackpool in one of Saturday's eight matches, Tottenham could need victory to keep pace with the surprise fifth-place Trotters.

Manchester City are at Stoke trying to build upon last week's 4-1 win at Fulham, who host Birmingham. Arsenal will try to avoid a third straight defeat at Aston Villa, while Everton host West Bromwich Albion.

West Ham host Wigan and Sunderland is at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Manchester United can take sole possession of first place if they beat Blackburn and Chelsea then fail to win at Newcastle on Sunday.