Liverpool will be without both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge this coming Sunday when they travel to White Hart Lane for a pivotal showdown with Tottenham Hotspur. It may not even matter. The man who is currently playing as well as is anybody, yes including any and all footballers who call Spain home, will be on the pitch.
Spurs have quite the task ahead of them.
Tottenham vs. Liverpool preview: Geez, Luis
Manager Andre Villas-Boas is facing multiple dilemmas, his first being who to start in his back line. Jan Vertonghen, Vlad Chiriches and Younes Kaboul are all dealing with injury problems. Etienne Capoue has played well in the role, but that was in games against Sunderland and Anzhi.
This match will present a much more difficult challenge for whoever is tasked with playing in the Tottenham defense.
Luis Suarez is in the midst of the best run of play of his Premier League career. It isn't just his goal tally that is impressive. It is how he is finding the back of the net.
Suarez is burying highlight reel golazos. He's hitting pinpoint strikes and doing so with ease. Even his positioning inside the attacking third has been spot on.
I cannot imagine a patchwork back line slowing Suarez down. That, unfortunately, is all that Villas-Boas has available to him, maybe until January. All signs point to Suarez again having a big day unless goalkeeper Hugo Lloris stands on his head.
The France No. 1 has done it before.
Tottenham vs. Liverpool preview: Up front
AVB also has a difficult decision when it comes to who he plays up top. Logic, as of Thursday morning, would have suggested that Jermain Defoe would be the obvious choice. Defoe hasn't been an unstoppable force, but he has been far more consistent than has Roberto Soldado, who has often been left out on islands during Premier League games.
Then came Thursday evening. Spurs routed Anzhi 4-1 on the last match day of the Europa League group stages. That victory included a hat-trick netted by Soldado.
Part of Villas-Boas starting Soldado against lesser competition was to get the Spanish international some confidence. Nothing breeds self-trust in a striker as does scoring goals. Unless fitness is a concern, Soldado deserves the nod; but only if Villas-Boas provides him with the right lineup.
Soldado starting alone up front hasn't worked out for Spurs this season, and neither has AVB teaming him up with inverted wingers. The Tottenham boss found the right combination against Anzhi. He now needs to do so on a consistent basis.
Tottenham vs. Liverpool preview: Prediction
Fans and analysts alike undersold how difficult it would be for Villas-Boas to get a feel on what is a new-look squad. Tottenham's last few matches have shown hints that he could be figuring things out. That will only prove to be accurate, however, if AVB implements the information that he hopefully will have learned over the past couple of weeks.
Suarez, though, is on a different level.
Suarez has the goods to carry Liverpool to a result on a normal day. He's been anything but normal during this latest stretch of play. Suarez isn't just playing to keep Liverpool near the top of the table and in a Champions League place.
He is also looking to earn himself a big payday, either with his current club or with a team capable of winning on the world's biggest stage.
The atmosphere at White Hart Lane on Thursday was electric, and Tottenham will have a major advantage against Liverpool if that is the case on Sunday. My lack of trust in the team's defending holds me back more so than does anything else. This one could be a lot of fun for the neutral.
Prediction: Spurs 2-2 Liverpool