LIVERPOOL FC’s next fixture in the Premier League is a crucial match against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday. The Reds still harbour hopes of finishing in the top four despite it being a momentous task to do so and a win against an in-form Spurs is vital if Liverpool are to finish in the European places in the league.
Brendan Rodgers and his players will come up against not only one of the best teams in the league at the moment but arguably the best player in the league also, in the form of Welsh wizard Gareth Bale. Tipped to become Player of the Year, Bale has produced some scintillating football in the past few months which has resulted in thirteen goals in as many games and a surge up the table for his team.
Andre Villas-Boas, once heavily linked with the Liverpool job, has impressed so far as Spurs boss after taking over from fan favourite Harry Redknapp in the summer. The North Londoners are on course to finish the season strongly and are being tipped to finish as high as third in the league which would be their most successful season in the history of the Premier League.
In the previous fixture between the two sides back in November of 2012, Spurs picked up a fortunate 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Aaron Lennon and yes, you guessed it, Gareth Bale. To further prove his superiority on the pitch, Bale even managed to score for Liverpool as well but it wasn’t enough for the Reds to even claim a point despite bossing the game for large periods.
This time round Rodgers will be looking to do things differently. With four more months of experience at Anfield under his belt, the manager will feel more confident going into the weekend’s fixture as we look to further enhance our chances of European qualification.
Liverpool have to suitably prepare themselves for the visit of Tottenham, however, concentration cannot be too far away from one question: how do we stop Gareth Bale?
For me, the best way to stop him is to deploy one of our midfielders as a watchman. Liverpool Football Club is no stranger to these types of players as, on many previous occasions, opposition have used exactly the same tactic on our captain Steven Gerrard.
Effectively employing a player to forget about the bigger picture and concentrate on stopping the danger man. For me, this is what we have to do with Bale. Too many times this season opposition have allowed Bale too much time on the ball and with his wand of a left foot he has dished out his fair share of punishment.
What player does Liverpool have in their ranks that can negate Bale’s talents and eradicate his threat as much as possible? If I was boss and picking the team, it would have to Lucas Leiva. Although still struggling for form following a succession of serious injuries, Lucas has the ability to frustrate an opposition player especially those who are all about flair – like Gareth Bale. The tenacious, never-say-die attitude of our Brazilian could be used to our advantage as his terrier-like traits give us an opportunity to nullify what Bale does from the centre of the field.
It is true that Bale only needs one opportunity to score. However, with Liverpool scoring plenty of goals in their past few games, we could potentially concede and still go on to win. Minimalising the damage that Bale can cause is the key to getting three points out of this fixture and I am sure it is not far from the forefront of Rodgers’ mind the notion that if you stop Gareth Bale you stop Spurs.
What is your opinion? How do you stop a player who seems to be untouchable? Is Lucas the answer?
Follow me on Twitter for LFC discussion – @ElliottTunstall