How can we analyse a Liverpool game without mentioning the title race? Most felt Liverpool had the potential to challenge for the title at the start of the season, but few would have predicted the Reds actually emerging victorious. Talk of winning the league seemed like nothing more than lofty aspirations spewing out of the red half of the city, but what Brendan Rogers has fusioned together in Merseyside is a team of players who are compelling to watch and are full of entertainment value. They pass, they move, they swap flanks, they keep the ball; these are all credentials that you add to a formula to create champions. But this season has been one of many twists and turns at the top of the table: we’ve had the downfall of Manchester United, Arsenal’s fall from their position as early leaders, and the re-emergence of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. It is a season where anyone can beat anyone, but if Liverpool win all of their games from now they will win the league. In their way stands two grand slam fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea, if they can bat them aside then they deserve to win the title, that is of course, if the season doesn’t take yet another twist.
After the Englishmen of Southampton’s scintillating displays on Saturday, it was down to the hopefuls of Liverpool and Tottenham to step up to the plate today. Roy Hodgson could do a lot worse than trying to emulate the way that this Liverpool side play and where they won’t all be certain starters, they can all play their part. A front line that includes Daniel Sturridge is bound to provide goals, and although he was more of a creator than a finisher against Spurs, he still got into positions that, if he was picked out, he could have capitalised on. If he worked with Wayne Rooney and Adam Lallana for once we might be looking at English frontline who could create havoc. Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson both had solid games and you could easily run out of superlatives when trying to describe Steven Gerrard’s passing range. Jon Flanagan is the only player who would struggle to get a ticket to Brazil, especially with the abundance of decent left-backs England currently have – although his versatility could help his cause. As for Spurs’s England contingent, it’s harder to comment on them based on Sunday’s performance as they were all below par. Danny Rose is another English left-back who is likely to miss out on the plane to Brazil and Aaron Lennon has failed to play his way into Hodgson’s plans this time round. Michael Dawson came on halfway through the first half and instantly made a mistake that lead to a goal. Andros Townsend also started on the bench and after bursting onto the international scene it seems like he may have to settle for a place on the bench in Brazil.
If there’s a way to defend against this man then nobody has found it yet. He is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world right now and he’s the most important cog in the Liverpool machine. Let’s do the unthinkable and put his goal to the side for this evaluation as, believe it or not, he offers so much more. In this game alone he could have had three – he swerved a free kick narrowly wide of the post, he had a header excellently saved by Lloris, he could have had a bundle of assists and he was turning on a sixpence and putting defenders on the floor in the process. Even when you put aside his attacking qualities, you’re left with a forward so committed that he tracked back to defend in his own corner and emerged with the ball to start an attack. Based on this performance, we could heap plaudits on him all day long – and it wasn’t even his best of the season. If Liverpool win the Premier League there’s no doubt the fans will owe it to the man who they’ll be hoping to stop in the World Cup, and they’ll be hoping that, for one game at least, Hodgson can suss him out. Good luck with that.
It’s hard to find the root of the problem with Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham side – one game they’re on fire and the next they’re running cold, sometimes, as evidenced in last week’s victory of Southampton, they can cram both of those traits into one game. This was certainly evidence of the latter, they just did not get going. Christian Eriksen, aside from his mistake in the second minute, was their best player again, but often he found himself isolated with two players on him and no one running into the area to back him up. Their defence was ran ragged by a dynamic Liverpool side who did not let them rest for a moment. It was almost as if Younes Kaboul saw the Kop and filled with fear as it was his early own goal that set the tone of the match. Roberto Soldado was feeding off scraps and he didn’t manage to pull the trigger even once. Sure, that’s a testament to how well Liverpool defended but you can’t help but feel that Spurs couldn’t pull themselves out of first gear. When they were invited to attack they forgot to RSVP and were stopped at the door.
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