Two points to focus on after the impressive Liverpool win at White Hart Lane: Luis Suarez is playing better football than anyone in the world right now, not just the Premier League. The other? Having a midfield consisting of Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva might be better than having Steven Gerrard in it.
Blasphemy, some would say; one match doesn’t mean anything, even if it was probably the best match under Brendan Rodgers, who got his tactics spot on while Tottenham crumbled in front of him, like the ego and confidence of Andre Villas-Boas. He might not be fired right away and will still get a chance to salvage something from the wreckage this season is turning out to be considering how much money has been spent, but his future isn’t looking too bright.
Liverpool missed out on long balls and set piece accuracy with Gerrard out? Their “new” captain, Luis Suarez, infected everyone with his rabid style and relentless pressure. Lucas didn’t move much, but he didn’t have to. Joe Allen pushed forward the attacks, and Liverpool felt comfortable attacking with only four players – Raheem Sterling on the wing, with Rodgers finally finding the right place for the teenager, Jordan Henderson from behind, Philippe Coutinho from the left and cutting to the middle to interact with Luis Suarez, and the Uruguayan himself.
It was enough to embarrass the Tottenham defense time after time. Hugo Lloris made impressive saves before it all went downhill. Mamadou Sakho, finally playing in the lineup for consecutive matches and being unbeatable as usual on the ground and in the air, rattled the framework with a header that should have gone in. It didn’t matter. There was no midfield for Tottenham even before Paulinho was sent off. There was no center of defense, as Kyle Naughton was bullied through the first half and the Michael Dawson – Etienne Capou gimmick didn’t last more than two matches.
So are Liverpool a better side without Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard? Right now the result suggests that’s the truth. The current lineup fits the vision of Brendan Rodgers much better – a lot of midfield mobility, hardly any long passing, and one Luis Suarez that is truly in inhuman form, scoring 17 goals in 11 league matches, something both Messi and Ronaldo can’t compete with this season.
Perfect form for Liverpool collided with the worst from Tottenham. Some might suggest that Villas-Boas saw his players give up on the match far too early. Some might even call this a sabotage in order to get him sacked. Unless someone speaks and comes forth it’ll all be speculation. It shouldn’t really matter to Liverpool, once again at second place, feeling that it’s really here for the long haul, and they’ll be in the Champions League picture (and perhaps even more than that) for the rest of the season.
Growing up and learning that not having Gerrard on the pitch isn’t a cause for panic – there’s leadership, skill and intelligence without him might be another important step in stepping up from the bad seasons and eventually once more becoming one of England’s most successful clubs.