Why Steven Gerrard Was Liverpool's Best Player Against Tottenham

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2013

Why Steven Gerrard Was Liverpool's Best Player Against Tottenham

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    Liverpool ran out 3-2 winners against Tottenham Hotspur after a very back-and-forth Premier League game, and Steven Gerrard put in another top performance to help his team to victory.

    Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale had most of the pregame hype around them, and both certainly contributed a lot to the match over the course of the 90 minutes, but it was the veteran midfielder and Liverpool captain who perhaps shone the most.

    The win lifted the Reds up into sixth place in the Premier League, now seven points behind Chelsea in fourth place.

    Here is why Gerrard was such a big influence on the game.

Ability on the Ball and Vision to Help the Flow of Liverpool's Play

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    Gerrard has always been a great passer of the ball, but this season more than ever he seems to have stepped up his reliability and versatility in possession.

    Against Spurs, he was once again at his fluid best when the Reds were on the ball, quickly interchanging passes in midfield and setting the tone for the tempo of Liverpool's attacks.

    As always, he was happy to switch play from one side of the field to the other with great accuracy and speed, helping to alter the rhythm of the play when Spurs closed out the Reds down one flank or the other. Gerrard made six long passes, completing five of them, to showcase his range of accuracy.

    He achieved an 86 percent pass completion rate overall, the highest out of any central midfielder involved in the match.

Covering the Ground in Midfield, and Covering for His Partner

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    Gerrard's age is going against him in terms of continuing to win trophies for years to come, but it isn't showing this season.

    The No. 8 was able to cover every blade of grass once more, working hard in the middle of the pitch when Spurs threatened to control the game for long spells and, along with his midfield teammates, closing down the line of three attacking midfielders for Spurs.

    With all three capable of shooting from range, this was an important part of Liverpool's defensive play, and they did it well.

    Alongside Gerrard in midfield was Lucas Leiva once more, and though he worked well and put in plenty of interceptions and tackles, the Brazilian's passing game was sloppy and erratic.

    He gave the ball away multiple times with relatively straight-forward passes, costing Liverpool the chance to counter attack and more than once letting Spurs start their own counters after they bypassed Lucas from his own pass.

    Gerrard was invaluable in working back and covering behind Lucas from time to time, making five tackles, three interceptions and two clearances of his own. He also tracked Gareth Bale several times when he embarked on long dribbles, making sure he never had space to get away a shot or a cross without significant pressure.

Power, Aggression, Steel and Will to Win: All Missing Too Often from Centre-Mid

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    Far too often, Liverpool are bullied out of a game in midfield.

    Since the departures of Momo Sissoko and Javier Mascherano, and the injury to Lucas Leiva 18 months ago, they have really lacked a physical, dominating presence in midfield who can run the game by power alone at times.

    Gerrard really stepped up to that particular challenge in this game with some robust tackles on Bale and Jake Livermore, both in the air and on the ground.

    It should be noted that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the header Gerrard won, but which the referee awarded a free kick for—eventually leading to Spurs' equaliser before halftime.

Composure When It Most Mattered

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    A back-and-forth game had seen both sides take the lead and concede it, before heading into the last 10 minutes of the game.

    Liverpool have given up points in this final period of matches this season, but it was to be their turn to win this time around when Luis Suarez won a late penalty, felled by Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the penalty area.

    Gerrard might have missed a penalty against West Brom not too long ago, but he also buried one against Swansea City since then and there was never any doubt about the outcome of this one against Spurs.

    A low, composed and cool finish to the 'keeper's left put the Reds ahead, and with Gerrard in the centre, overseeing the pressing and clearing which went on thereafter until the end of the game, Liverpool were finally able to break their duck of not beating a team above them in the league this season.

    A big win for the Reds, and a mammoth performance from Steven Gerrard.


    Match stats from WhoScored.com