Liverpool vs. Tottenham: Reds Finally Ready for Their 1st Big Win of Season

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur is put under pressure by Steven Gerrard of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on November 28, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Liverpool have yet to beat a team ranked above them in the Premier League this season. It's actually a wonder the Reds are only 10 points behind fourth place given that fact.

But it's not like the Reds haven't had their chances.

Liverpool should've beaten Everton at Goodison back in October, but after jumping out to a 2-0 lead and being pegged back, Luis Suarez's winning goal right at the death was called offsides, and the Reds had to traipse back across Stanley Park with one point instead of two. 

Liverpool were in complete control at Arsenal in January and the next week at the Etihad but let both the Gunners and Manchester City claw back in to win a point they maybe didn't deserve. 

It's been an unfortunate trend for Liverpool in recent years: playing well against the top teams but not well enough to get the desired result. 

That will change this Sunday. 

The Reds welcome third-placed and high-flying Gareth Bale to Anfield, and he'll probably bring the rest of Tottenham along for the ride (too easy). Spurs have been a thorn in Liverpool's side of late, winning six of their last 10 EPL matchups. 

Both teams are flying high at the moment, so, with all due respect to Manchester United and Chelsea, this is the game to tune into this weekend. 

Tottenham haven't lost a match in over a month, since they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Leeds United. Spurs haven't lost a league match since their 2-1 defeat at Everton way back in December. 

Liverpool haven't been nearly as consistent, but aside from losses to West Brom at home and Zenit away in February, the Reds have been solid in 2013. 

While the team's form may look a little shaky, the players are hitting their strides at just the right time. 

Daniel Sturridge and fellow January signing Philippe Coutinho are fitting into their new team easily, while Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson are finally getting Liverpool fans excited to see their names on the team sheet. 

At the back, Jamie Carragher—who is in line to make his 500th Premier League appearance Sunday—is determined to go out on a high note with the Reds, and he's playing some of his toughest football in his 17-year career. Pepe Reina, meanwhile, is coming off his best performance of the season at Wigan, where he looked like the Reina of old. 

But Super Sunday will be all about two players—or almost all.

Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale are two leading candidates for Premier League Player of the Year, and both have been basically unstoppable this season. Suarez leads all scorers with 21 league goals this season, while Bale is sitting pretty on 16. 

Suarez has stolen the headlines for Liverpool all year, but he hasn't been running the show entirely. His new strike partner Sturridge is set to return on Sunday, and he's taken the scoring burden off the Uruguayan in his short time as a Red. 

Bale, on the other, hand has been the catalyst for much of Tottenham's success this season, and when you shut him down, you shut down the Spurs attack. Easier said than done. 

So, both teams are in good form, both have star players fighting for individual honors and both have a lot more than three points at stake. 

Fourth place is a little ways off but certainly attainable for Liverpool at this point. The Reds still have to play Chelsea and Everton at home, and, following Sunday, three of the Reds' next four games are against relegation-fighters. 

Tottenham, meanwhile, are battling to stay in third place and possibly get up to second, and they can't afford too much of a slip on Sunday, considering Chelsea is only two points behind. 

Tottenham are the hotter team, but Liverpool are the home team. Tottenham have a lot to gain but not a whole lot to lose, while it's more the opposite for the Reds. 

You can bet Brendan Rodgers will have made that clear to his team this week. 

With Liverpool going out of the Europa League two weeks ago, the fixtures have been slowing down. Tottenham, meanwhile, played a huge match against Arsenal this past Sunday and hosted Inter Milan on Thursday, though they skated through that one rather easily.

But none of that has seemed to slow Gareth Bale and Spurs down, and on Sunday it will all depend on how Liverpool want to handle the Bale conundrum. Too much focus on the Welsh winger, and Tottenham has plenty of other players who can hurt Liverpool. Not enough pressure on him, and he'll punish the Reds like he has every other team in his path. 

Despite the disheartening draws against Arsenal and Man City and the mind-numbing losses against West Brom and Zenit, Liverpool are in a rich vein of form and have a real shot at climbing up the table in the last 10 weeks of the season.

A win on Sunday would be worth so much more than three points to Liverpool. It's time the Reds finally get the points they deserve, assuming they play like it. 

Since it's their first game in eight days, the players should be more than up for it. 

Just so long as there are no pitch invasions this go around. 


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