It’s understandable why the FA Cup quarter-finals clash between Manchester United and Chelsea will be the fixture drawing the most attention on Sunday but despite what’s at stake in the knockout tie, it would be a grave mistake to completely ignore the Premier League encounter which kicks-off at Anfield half an hour earlier. Liverpool welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the red half of Merseyside in what promises to be an open and entertaining affair.
Both teams will be full of confidence coming into this game with the hosts still beaming from their 4-0 away win against Wigan Athletic last weekend and the visitors fresh off their emphatic 3-0 win over Inter Milan in midweek.
Confidence is on a high
The revered fluid attacking styles of both teams this season will be on display and that’s what makes this clash so attractive. Liverpool have come a long way from their lethargic and unimaginative play over the past couple of years with the appointment of Brendan Rodgers serving to revolutionize their philosophy at the club.
It’s that attractive brand of football that has effectively protected the Irishman from facing the wrath of the Anfield faithful for failing to improve on the team’s mediocrity in the league with respect to their position. Finishing in the top four remains a distant target with Chelsea currently 10 points ahead of them, occupying that final Champions League spot.
Meanwhile, Tottenham are playing some neat football under Andres Villas-Boas. The Portuguese tactician is an advocate of the high defensive line and now that his side are more comfortable with it, they are starting to reap the rewards. They have devastating pace in attack which often forces opposing defenders onto the back foot.
With both sides enjoying their form in front of goal of late, we can expect to see a few goals when they face each other. Liverpool in particular have plundered 12 goals in their last 3 fixtures with an average of 4 goals per game. Tottenham haven’t been too shabby either, scoring 8 goals in their last 3 games, two of which were high-profile encounters against Arsenal and Inter Milan.
Incidentally, both sides welcome back their strikers from injury. Jermaine Defoe already took to the field in their midweek Europa League clash in which his presence brought on a marked improvement in their attacking play as opposed to times when Emmanuel Adebayor has had to lead the line on his own.
Daniel Sturridge returns to the fore for Liverpool and it’s no secret that his intelligent link-up play with his team-mates and Luis Suarez in particular has added a different dimension to their attack. He has 4 goals in his first 5 games since his transfer from Chelsea and his energy up front compliments that of Suarez’s very well.
Speaking of the mercurial Uruguayan, he will be coming face-to-face with his competition for the PFA Player of the Year award in Gareth Bale. The Welshman has enjoyed a phenomenal season so far during which he has even drawn comparisons to former Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Suarez and Bale are arguably the two most in-form players in the league. Both players have been talismanic for their respective teams and their contributions have been vital this season. Bale in particular has been in red-hot form having scored 11 goals in his last 9 games. Meanwhile, Suarez leads the chase for the Golden Boot with 21 goals in the league so far.
|Minutes/Goal or Assist||83.73||96.29|
This encounter should also play host to an intriguing tactical battle between two coaches who worked under a common mentor at Chelsea in Jose Mourinho. Liverpool have dominated possession in most of their games this season, even the ones in which they were defeated. It would come as no surprise then if they enjoy the lion share of possession against Spurs. With the creativity they have at their disposal in the likes of Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard coupled with Sturridge’s relentless movement up front, they enjoy their build-up play and are capable of carving defenses open.
Tottenham on the other hand, were content with relinquishing possession against Arsenal last weekend and they will be open to doing that again at Anfield especially since they pose a serious threat on the counter-attack.
The likes of Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker in midfield ensure that they maintain a formidable core while the pace of Bale and Aaron Lennon makes in roads into the opposition’s defense. The pacey duo are ably supported by their full-backs while Defoe’s movement makes him a handful for the two center-backs. The visitors should be comfortable playing on the break.
Ultimately, a win for Spurs could all but secure Champions League football at White Hart Lane next season since it would extend the gap between them and fifth placed Arsenal to 10 points with only 9 games to play (although the Gunners would have a game in hand). Meanwhile, a victory for Liverpool may not significantly enhance their chances of a fourth place finish but it would still be a welcome triumph over a side currently above them in the league, a scalp that has so far eluded them this season.
|Who do you think will win? Leave your comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @BrendonNetto.|
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.