Liverpool Vs. Tottenham Hotspur
This Premiership clash will be billed as the battle of the one man show; Suarez vs Bale.
Luis Suarez has scored four of Liverpool's last seven goals from open play. Stuart Downing told ESPN: 'Suarez must be a nightmare for defenders. He can be quiet in games and you've got to out of nothing. You saw that with his goals today, top quality finishes. He's been brilliant for us all season.' be on your toes at all times because he can score anything" We all know Bale`s record over this season so you can see the media hype starting already. Suarez form has now seen his pay go past £120,000.00 a week, over half a million a month not bad for a club whose owners (Fenway Sports Group) revealed accounts showing the club lost £40.5m in the 10 months to 31 May 2012!! 70% of that loss being players wages.
Liverpool have not beaten Spurs home or away since January 2010, when Dirk Kuyt scored twice at Anfield in a 2-0 win in 2010, in our last five meetings Liverpool have taken just one point from us.
Reading through the Liverpool Echo the other day to gauge the mood music in Merseyside for this match Jamie Carragher is urging the Liverpool supporters to turn out give it plenty on Sunday as Carragher feels that Spurs have had the "Indian sign" over Liverpool for too long. In reality Liverpool are playing for next season although their fans have a lingering hope still of a top 4 place but they will need a fantastic run-in to overhaul a 12 point deficit, especially as they have failed to take maximum points from any of the teams above them this season.
Liverpool 's nine goals in their past two wins have underscored by the two clean sheets. The signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have given Liverpool more options to win games. It has been said that if Suarez had an off day Liverpool would not win. The addition of Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho playing along side "El Pistolero" means that Goals are back on tap so keeping a clean sheet this Sunday will be an achievement!
Liverpool`s last victims were a very average Wigan and I don`t think Swansea`s mind was exactly on the job either when they got stuffed 5-0 at Anfield the other week as they prepared for Wembley. So the visit of Tottenham will be considered a test for the Bin Dippers to see if they can beat teams above them not the so called "lesser" teams below them.
We now enter what has been described as a "season defining" set of games. Arsenal was the opener and we took care of them, Inter Milan was considered a real test but we out-muscled the Italian club on Thursday night and took one big step toward the last 16.
So! Back to the Premiership! Liverpool will be a lot tougher. One thing is for sure Liverpool will not be sitting back and letting us come on to them they will be in our faces from the start. Liverpool are much better organised, and they will attack Spurs in waves. The first 20 minutes on Sunday will be key, it will be a typical Liverpool game where Liverpool go for us right from the start to try and get an early goal. They will look for spaces in front of our back four and try and play slide balls through the channels for Suarez to get on to the end of. I think they know we have the height at the back to beat an aerial attack so I am not expecting long balls in from Gerard or too many crosses from the wide areas. Gerrard has 13 assists to his name this season. I expect a lot of their attack to be played on the ground and shots coming in from outside the box. Jose Enrique has silenced his critics with his recent form and their back four is now looking more solid.
Liverpool will probably also have a strategy for Bale as they have not had a game since Wigan and will probably have worked on how to keep Bale quiet during their week off. Brendan Rodgers will be thinking stop Bale and you stop Tottenham so they will hope that Liverpool`s organisational set up will take care of Bale.
Whoever AVB chooses as the CB pairing on Sunday they had better keep it very tight because Suarez will be in and around our 18 and 6 yard box on every opportunity. Dembele will probably have to play deeper and take more of a DM role with Parker to protect the back four. I expect Daws to pair with Vert and BAE and Walker to close down the wings.
Liverpool will be without Borini or Jones but Sturridge and Kelly will be available. Adebyour will be fit but Dempsey is still a doubt. The worst bit of news is Aaron "Turbo Man" Lennon is a doubt for Sunday's Barclays Premier League game at Liverpool after suffering a hamstring injury during Thursday night's win over Inter Milan. Lennon covered every blade of grass against Inter. Losing Lennon at this point of the season will have an influence on how we play the next few games until he is fit again.
Siggy is starting to come into form and could take the Lennon role, with maybe Bale going to the left which means we could bring Ade up front with Defoe in the hole. Holtby is making me more nervous every time I see him and does not look like a player for this type of game.
We are in for a battle on Sunday and it may mean grinding out a result. We need to break up Liverpool`s passing game which means someone cutting off the supply coming from Gerrard and making sure we do not give Suarez space. Although we dominated most of the games against Inter and Scum we still had lapses of concentration where they got in behind us. Suarez will be waiting for those moments and I can`t see him squandering the kind of chances we have been giving out recently.
The question is where are Liverpool`s weaknesses and can we exploit them and how does AVB set us up against a team that is going to attack us from the off. It will be a high intensity game with Liverpool looking to dominate possession and restrict the game to our own 3rd which may mean us catching them on the break. A few free kicks in and around their 18 yard box for Bale would be handy especially if we have to use set pieces to get a chance for a shot on goal.
12 Premier games without defeat and this one is number 13! Get a result from this game and its Fulham at home and Swansea away for the rest of March!