Today’s afternoon kick-off sees Liverpool welcome Tottenham to Anfield for what is, for Brendan Rodgers’ men, a chance to take pole position in the Premiership. If ever there was a must win game for LFC, then we’ll be seeing it come 4pm this today. After yesterday’s results, Liverpool have the top spot there for the taking and if the team is going to have any hope of lifting the title this season, then this is the chance to get one hand on it.
The weekend could not have gone any better for Liverpool upto now. Chelsea were done over 1-0 by a hungry Crystal Palace side who are fighting tooth and nail to remain in the top flight. Manchester City faltered at Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium. I remain positive. I don’t believe Tottenham or Tim Sherwood have what it takes to overturn Liverpool or Brendan Rodgers. Before Tottenham’s win over Southampton last week, they hadn’t won since the 1-0 home victory over strugglers Cardiff. The fact that all of the games since then and last week have been against what you’d generally call “Quality” opposition (Chelsea, Arsenal and Benfica), it’s only natural to conclude that Tottenham struggle against this type of opposition. The type in which Liverpool one can definitely count Liverpool.
Tactically, it’s almost a given that Rodgers will start with the same side that’s been doing so well since the turn of the year. The only change I can see is perhaps Raheem Sterling starting in place of Philippe Coutinho but then, that’s something I’ve expected for the last few games and it hasn’t come about. Expect the home side to press high up the pitch and pressure the Spurs midfield. Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger will have to be at their combative best and obviously, avoid the individual errors that have cost the team goals in recent weeks. The right tactics though, are only one element of what is required.
I recall the ex-Liverpool winger John Barnes being asked in an interview “What is the secret for Liverpool’s success?”. Barnes’ response was “Well firstly, we have the best players and secondly, the Gaffer just tells us to go out and enjoy ourselves”. So for a start, Liverpool don’t have the best players. Perhaps the best strikers and one or two midfielders arguably, but in defence certainly not. Thus Barnes’ first point is irrelevant for the current team. However, what they can do is to go out tomorrow and enjoy themselves and I’m glad that Rodgers has put that point to the team ahead of tomorrow’s match via the Liverpool Echo.
Nobody knew that the team would be where they are at the beginning of the season. As underdogs for the Premiership – which they undoubtedly are – they shouldn’t be feeling the pressure. That’s the job of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenall but not Liverpool. They’re in the mix and clearly have a chance but I’m not convinced that Liverpool will win the title. Mainly because there’s no depth in the squad. All it takes is a 2-match yellow card ban (Steven Gerrard), an injury to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge or indeed Gerrard, and then the title challenge will likely be as over as Austin Rover. The squad is right now four or five key players – not squad players – short of being genuine title material and Rodgers knows this.
The bottom line is, Liverpool FC have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The apparent nervousness on Wednesday against Sunderland from both the team and supporters should not be. In reality, we’ve got to be happy we got this far. Surely that’s worth celebrating.
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