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Liverpool-Tottenham Hotspur Preview

AP - Sports

Premier League top-four hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool meet at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon in one of the highlights of the festive fixture list.

Liverpool (9-3-3) have been playing sensational football at times under Brendan Rodgers this season, and go into the last round of matches in second place in the table with hopes of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in five years. However, the Merseyside club have lost their last five league games at the Lane - being outscored 12-4 - and manager Brendan Rodgers is aware that Sunday's game is a massive test for his side.

"They are difficult games," said the Liverpool manager. "When you go away from home you are going to be up against it but our approach is the same. We go into every game to play well, to work the ball and work hard when we don't have it.

"You are asked different questions away from home and we just need to cut out the mistakes we make because it hasn't been teams who have opened us up, we have conceded disappointing goals or own goals. If we can cut that out then we know we have enough ammunition to get goals."

If the narrative is to be believed, then Tottenham (8-3-4) have been lurching between underachievement and crisis so far this season, yet the new-look Spurs side remain very much in the mix for the top four and would draw level with high-flying Liverpool with a win on Sunday.

Andre Villas-Boas watched as his team made it eight wins from eight games in the Europa League this season with a 4-1 crushing of Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday evening. Perhaps more significant than the result was a hat trick for high-profile summer signing Roberto Soldado, who has been on the bench for Tottenham's two most recent league games - 2-1 wins at Fulham and Sunderland).

"It was extremely important for him to get back to scoring," Villas-Boas said. "I'm extremely happy for him. He's been waiting for a moment like this and it finally happened tonight with a hat trick. It will be a major boost for a player who has been very professional and deserves the respect of the fans.

"We always wanted to give this game to Roberto after two games in a row for Jermain (Defoe), who was deserving of his chance as well. Now it's about putting together the best possible strategy for the game and seeing what we can do."

Tottenham have a pile-up of injury concerns at centre-back, with Jan Vertonghen (ankle) and Younes Kaboul (hip) definitely out and Vlad Chiriches (knee) doubtful. Danny Rose made his first appearance for three months in the win over Anzhi so could be in-line for a start at left-back, while midfielder Etienne Capoue has played at centre-back for the last two games and could partner Michael Dawson if Chiriches is unavailable. Emmanuel Adebayor (knee) and Harry Kane (back) remain out for Spurs.

Jordan Henderson (ankle) and Daniel Agger (illness) are fitness concerns for Liverpool, while Rodgers is also without captain Steven Gerrard and striker Daniel Sturridge (ankle) until the new year. The absence of two of Liverpool's star players for the busy festive period will put even more pressure on Luis Suarez to continue his stellar form of late.

"Luis is in great form at the moment, his quality and energy and robustness is where he comes into his own," enthused Rodgers. "He is remarkable and is up for every game so there is no worry there."

The away team dominated possession in both games between these sides last season, but the home team won on each occasion. Liverpool's 3-2 win at Anfield in March ended a run of five straight games without a win against Spurs.

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