This season’s most potent strike partnership
Welcome to coverage of today’s game between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. After fellow title-chasers Chelsea and Manchester City dropped points yesterday, Brendan Rodgers’ side have the opportunity to top the Premier League table by 6pm this evening. Tottenham have been in underwhelming form all season, but a last gasp victory at home to Southampton last weekend was a timely boost to morale.
It will take more than morale for the visitors to leave Anfield with three points today. Liverpool start as firm favourites following seven consecutive league victories, the most recent being a hard fought win over Sunderland in midweek. The strike partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge has produced 48 league goals so far this season, and if Spurs play to the same level they did in the reverse fixture in December, they may well reach the half-century.
That 5-0 defeat before Christmas was Andre Villas Boas’ last in charge of Spurs, and while a similiar result would be unlikely to cost successor Tim Sherwood his job on Monday, it would do serious damage to his chances of holding onto his position beyond the summer. Louis Van Gaal has been heavily linked to the club, and fellow Dutchman Ruud Gullit has said this weekend that there has been contact between Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and the veteran manager.
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93 mins- The final whistle goes at Anfield. An easy day at the office for Liverpool as Spurs were never at the races. A goal in the first minute set the tone. Spurs head back to London with their season well and truly over, while Liverpool head to the top of the table. A terrific end to come in this Premier League season.
91 mins – Liverpool players still working hard. Everyone wants to impress the manager and consolidate a starting place for the run-in.
90 mins – 3 minutes added at the end of the game. To compound Spurs’ misery, Soldado is taken off on a stretcher after landing awkwardly.
88 mins – Suarez flagged for offside. Doesn’t look like he’ll be adding to his tally today but you never know…
86 mins – Spurs players look like they wish they were anywhere else. Dawson comes close with a header from a corner.
82 mins – Substitution Sterling makes way for Victor Moses.
78 mins – Of course Spurs were up against it today considering their main source of goals against Liverpool the past few seasons retired in the summer. Jamie Carragher is watching from the stands today.
77 mins – Chadli and Sigurdsson have chances for Spurs which come to nothing.
72 mins – GOAL! 4-0 Liverpool Henderson assumes free-kick responsibility and whips one in from the left. Luis Suarez lets it run and so too do the entire Tottenham defence. Suarez makes sure everyone knows it was the midfielder’s goal by running directly too him.
69 mins – Substitution Gerrard makes way with Liverpool fans applause ringing in his ears. Lucas on in his place. Brendan Rodgers will be pleased his captain didn’t pick up a yellow card today. It would have kept him out of the next game.
67 mins – Sturridge nearly gets gets on the score sheet with a cheeky back-heel.
65 mins- Suarez picks up a slight knock. Rodgers may consider taking him off soon with this game wrapped up.
61 mins- Coutinho hassling and harrying in midfield. The difference in desire is plain to see, Liverpool are up for this game and the chance to win the title. Spurs are on already on their summer holidays and, in the case of Tim Sherwood, they could be long ones.
59 mins – Substitution Bentaleb and Lennon make way for Dembele and Townsend as Tim Sherwood rings the changes.
57 mins- Liverpool fans singing “Wer’e going to win the league.” Manchester City and Chelsea still have to come to Anfield though… An interesting end of the season coming up.
54 mins- GOAL COUTINHO! Spoke too soon! Coutinho allowed too much room at the edge of the box and he drills a right-footer beyond the despairing dive of Lloris into the bottom left corner. Good finish but the Brazilian was allowed far too much time to pick his spot by the Spurs defence.
53 mins – Henderson fluffs his lines after a beautiful one-two between Sterling and Sturridge. Sterling squares the ball to the former Sunderland man and with the Tottenham defence in disarray he fails to find the target. Spurs lucky to still be within two goals of their hosts.
51 mins – Flanagan almost plays in Suarez but Dawson manages to intervene. Down the other end. Soldado shows pace to outrun Agger but the Dane gets back and wins the goal-kick.
48 mins – Roberto Soldado has been kept quiet all afternoon. While his goal-scoring record has been poor this season, he has shown promise in his link-up play. However Skrtel and Agger have him well marshalled. Spurs miss the physical presence of Adebayor. Any long balls played so far today have been eaten up by the Liverpool defence.
46 mins – Sigurdsson booked for a drag back on Coutinho.
17:03 – And we’re off again. No changes to either side.
17:00 – Suarez is 6 goals from the Premier League record for goals in a season. Could he do it today? If Spurs continue defending the way they have done, he could get a few more anyway.
16:47 – The half time whistle goes and the teams go down the tunnel. Their two goals have come from mistakes but Liverpool are well on top in this game. A stunning save from Lloris in the closing minutes of the half have kept Spurs somewhat in it but they’re going to have to be bolder going forward second half if they are to rescue anything from this game. And that’s going to leave room at the back for Liverpool’s pace to exploit.
45 mins – Two minutes added. Spurs want the whistle and the chance to regroup.
44 mins – Naughton slips and handles the ball at the edge of the Spurs box. Suarez curls the resulting free-kick agonizingly wide of the far top corner.
40 mins- BIG CHANCE! Oof! A mistake from Rose down the left and Sterling’s cross reaches Suarez at the back stick. He thumps a header which Lloris punches against the crossbar and somehow Spurs clear.
39 mins – A prolonged period in the Liverpool half for Spurs. Soldado gets the ball on the left of the box and aims a shot at the far top corner. Parried by Mignolet and Liverpool clear their lines.
37 mins – A hopeful long-range shot from teenager Nabil Bentaleb is easily gathered by Mignolet in goals for Liverpool.
34 mins – Spurs just can’t string two passes together, and that’s largely due to the intense pressure Liverpool are putting them under. Brendan Rodgers’s side are playing a high-tempo game and the visitors aren’t able to keep up.
32 mins – Kaboul is booked for a late tackle on Sterling at the edge of the box. The central defender is having a nightmare and with Vertonghen gone and the technically weaker Dawson now alongside him, he might be wishing this game was over already
31 mins – Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish are interested onlookers today. Bet they’d like to have played along-side Suarez.
25 mins – Spurs almost pull a goal back immediately. Eriksen’s shot well blocked by Skrtel.
24 mins – GOAL Suarez! No sooner has the substitution been made and Liverpool double their lead. Dawson horribly misjudges the flight of the ball, Suarez out-muscles Kaboul and shoots hard and low across Lloris into the bottom right hand corner. A new Liverpool league scoring record for Suarez. 29 this season.
23 mins – Suarez blasts the free-kick over the bar. Vertonghen’s race is run. Dawson comes on in the Belgian’s place.
21 mins – Free-kick for Liverpool in a dangerous area following a dubious Sigurdsson hand ball. Spurs players have an emergency meeting while Vertonghen gets treatment from the physios.
20 mins – Chadli and Eriksen have both made surging runs in the past few minutes but couldn’t execute the final ball into the runners.
15 mins – Liverpool sharp on the ball. Some trickery from Sterling down the right leads to a cross. Kaboul clears but from the throw in Suarez gets on the ball and picks out Couthinho. The Brazilian volleys just wide from 12 yards.
12 mins – Spurs just can’t get on the ball in these opening stages.
9 mins – CHANCE! Suarez glides beyond Naughton on the left and whips in a cross that is just too high for Sturridge on the back post.
7 mins – Just before the goal, I was about to say Spurs hadn’t scored a goal in the first 15 mins of any league game this season. I guess they have now. Wrong end however.
5 mins. The Liverpool crowd smell blood. Spurs haven’t spent any time inside the Liverpool half yet.
1 min – GOAL! Kaboul OG. A Glen Johnson cross hits the French defender inside the 6 yard box and trickles in. Disaster for Spurs. 1-0 Liverpool.
16:00 – And we’re underway!
15:58: It will be interesting to see if Cristian Eriksen or Nacer Chadli start behind Roberto Soldado today. Chadli is a more natural winger with Eriksen a creative presence at number 10. That’s not how they lined up last week however, and Sky Sports graphics suggest Eriksen will once more find himself out on the left.
15:57 – The teams are out and Anfield is rocking.
15:55 – The teams are in the tunnel. Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen looks relaxed, considering he’s about to come up against the 48 goal strike partnership of Suarez and Sturridge.
15:50 – Ten minutes to kick-off at Anfield. @OptaJoe has a stat that shows just why Liverpool are favourites today. Liverpool have won 11 and lost none in their last 12 league games at home.
15:48 – Tim Sherwood on Sky Sports now. Says he hasn’t watched the video of the 5-0 drubbing Liverpool dished out to AVB and Spurs in December. Pays tribute to Suarez and Sturridge, calling them the best strike partnership the Premier League has seen in a long time.
15:45 – Both sides have named attacking line-ups today. No holding midfielder for Tottenham and that has to be a worry for Spurs fans as Jordan Henderson has been doing damage through the centre in recent weeks for Liverpool.
15:42 – Brendan Rodgers being interviewed on Sky Sports now. Says supporters can dare to dream of a first league title in 24 years but the players must remain calm. Also mentions Spurs’ high line, which could be a source of much joy for the home side today.
15:40 – Raheem Sterling makes his first league start since the 3-0 win at Old Trafford two weeks ago. Joe Allen drops to the bench for the home side.
15:25 – The final whistle has just gone at Craven Cottage and Everton come away with a 3-1 win. They are hot on the heels of Arsenal now for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Fulham meanwhile are in serious trouble. 5 points from safety with 6 games left, and with the worst goal difference in the league. A whopping minus 42!
15:15 – A blow for Spurs before kick-off as Emanuel Adebayor fails to even make the bench. Gylfi Sigurdsson is rewarded for his late winner last week with a start in midfield.
15:10 -Team news just in.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez. Subs: Jones, Sakho, Cissokho, Lucas, Moses, Allen, Aspas.
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Sigurdsson, Lennon, Chadli, Eriksen, Soldado. Subs: Friedel, Dawson, Dembele, Sandro, Townsend, Winks, Kane.