Raheem Sterling and Liverpool Throw Down Title Gauntlet with Spurs Demolition

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2014


Raheem Sterling was voted the Barclays Man of the Match, as Liverpool delivered yet another hammering, this time against Tottenham, 4-0 courtesy of Younes Kaboul's own goal and goals from Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.

Sterling wasn't on the scoresheet, but he was Liverpool's best player, putting on a simply sensational performance.

Sterling was making his first start since starring in the demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford. That day, Brendan Rodgers played the 19-year-old in a more central role at the point of Liverpool's diamond midfield, showing a completely new side to his game.

In the two games since, victories over Cardiff and Sunderland, Coutinho has been preferred with Joe Allen in a midfield three, alongside Steven Gerrard and Henderson.

However, here against Tottenham, Sterling's pace and wide play was key to unlocking the visitor's defence, coming into the side in place of Allen, with Coutinho moving central.

Both Coutinho and Sterling have benefited from Rodgers being able to rest the two youngsters in recent weeks, interchanging the two dependent on the opposition. Both were in superb form on a sunny afternoon at Anfield, as Liverpool made it an impressive eight Premier League wins in a row and moved top of the table with six games remaining.


How good was Raheem Sterling though? He's ten times the player he was last season, and that's saying something.

— Si (@PhantomGoal) March 30, 2014


Sterling and Glen Johnson regularly doubled up to completely expose Danny Rose in the first half, while the second half saw Sterling move left, right and later central. He was everywhere, and everywhere he went he was superb.

Rodgers moved the Englishman on to the left when Spurs put on Andros Townsend, recognising how Sterling's work-rate can protect the full-back.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:   Raheem Sterling of Liverpool competes with Gylfi Sigurdsson of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 30, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Sterling's attacking attributes are well known and were on full display, taking on Rose and constantly committing the Spurs' defence, as they chased the shadows of Sterling, Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. 

But there is so much more to Sterling's game now. Not only has he added a very good end product to his game, he's also a very good player when defending. His energy means he can cover his full-back impressively.

There was an example late in the game when Sterling showed his strength and tactical acumen to simply hold up play near his own corner flag, despite his opponent being the 6'1" Nacer Chadli. Sterling's stature can be deceptive; he is one of the strongest players in this exciting Liverpool side.

As the game progressed and Liverpool were in complete control, Sterling moved into a more central role once Coutinho was replaced. Again, the youngster shone, threading through balls for Suarez and Sturridge.

The improvements in Sterling's game this season have been mighty impressive, and every credit should go to both the player and his manager.