Liverpool duo Luis Suarez and Brendan Rodgers, Tottenham Hotspur pairing Gareth Bale and Andre Villas-Boas – four of the most talked about men in this seasons’ Premier League, for their own reasons.
Suarez and Bale, despite all the negative attention towards them from the media and rival fans, have been the two of the most consistent attacking players in the League this season, coupled with Robin van Persie, regardless of his dip in form. They have contributed to countless goals and are both vital assets to their team’s play.
Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, was seen to be the correct replacement for outgoing Reds hero Kenny Dalglish. In all honesty, Liverpool haven’t had the best of seasons but still see themselves fighting for a top five finish. After his undoubted success with a newly promoted Swansea side, Rodgers didn’t find it easy settling in at Liverpool. With a lot of fans judging him in comparison to ‘King Kenny’ and the media observing his every move, he came under fire from a lot of fans and neutrals alike. Liverpool’s recent form suggests that despite the below par season, their transition period could be delivering it’s much deserved fruits.
Andre Villas-Boas, more commonly known as AVB, was seen as a controversial replacement to another outgoing manager, Harry Redknapp. He has fared slightly better than his opposing manager on Sunday and sees his Tottenham side sit third in the Premier League, not to mention a foot in the quarter finals of the Europa League. They sit as the top London club, a full seven points ahead of their north London rivals, Arsenal. After his unsuccessful spell at Chelsea, Villas-Boas has proved his worth in the world’s top division this year.
Onto Sunday, both sides are fighting for different causes. Liverpool are attempting to finish as high as they can, a Europa League placing to be expected. Spurs are trying to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League while keeping Manchester City peering over their shoulder in second place.
Some key battles on the pitch on Sunday will be contested in midfield and obviously the men that will be marking Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale on either side. Bale has been employed down the middle in recent games, allowing him more freedom. The Liverpool back line will have a tough game against him. Bale has scored 11 in his last nine games for club and country and has scored in Spurs’ last five League fixtures. If he scores at Anfield on Sunday, he will be the first Tottenham Hotspur player to score in six consecutive Premier League games since the League’s inception in 1992. This will be an incredible feat for one of the greatest players to ever pull on the famous Lilywhite shirt. At the other end of the pitch, Spurs’ centre backs will have their work cut out against Suarez. His trickery and his ability to keep the ball glued to his feet will prove a tough test for the usually solid defence. Suarez is the Premier League’s top scorer, leading the way on 21 goals.
Two other key players for Liverpool will be Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Coutinho, a Brazilian hotshot, signed in January has hit the ground running since his move to Anfield. After scoring on his debut and setting up two for Luis Suarez last weekend, he is being touted as one of Brazil’s future stars. Sturridge, signed from Chelsea after an unsteady spell at the west London club has also found some form before picking up an injury. The Englishman also scored on his debut and is seen to be part of Liverpool’s new attacking trio of Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho.
January signing, Lewis Holtby, is yet to find the net, but his passion and enthusiasm are there for all to see. Right from the off, the Germany international showed his commitment to Spurs and his hunger for success is a key factor to us being able to finish third. This plus the fact that Villas-Boas can rotate him with Gylfi Sigurdsson will do well for the squad’s fitness for the final run in.
All these tactics will prove to be vital at the weekend and hopefully a great atmosphere at a usually rocking Anfield can seal another win for Villas-Boas’ Blue and White Army. Sunday will be a real test for an in form Spurs side. A win will see another huge boost in confidence and a rising belief of securing a place in next season’s elite competition.
Expected line ups:
Liverpool – Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique, Lucas, Gerrard, Coutinho, Henderson, Downing, Suarez. (via @Amit_Gohil)
Tottenham – Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou Ekotto, Parker, Dembele, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Bale, Defoe.