Liverpool try once again for a result with resonance.
It's getting Sisyphian. We get all revved up for yet another game for Liverpool against a meaningful side. We anticipate a result that will finally affirm that yes, things are heading in the right direction for sure. Of course it's not as fast as we might like, but this result shows that at least we're pointed in the direction we want to go.
And without fail this season, that fucking boulder has rolled down the hill and we're left to start all over. Will it be different this time? Did Charlie Brown ever kick that football? And even if he did, was Gareth Bale holding it?
Sometimes you can break down a match too much. Football can be so wonderfully simple sometimes. Just like baseball, or basketball, sometimes just having that one guy is really all that matters. Sometimes, Justin Verlander is pitching against you and you lose. It's pretty much that simple (the dude is boning Kate Upton, there are just some forces that can't be reckoned with). Sometimes Lebron James is on the other team, and there isn't a plan. "Everybody's got a plan til they get hit," if I can quote Sage Tyson.
Right now, it may not be any more complicated than Spurs having Gareth Bale in this form. While I've derided the over-the-top love he's gotten from the press at times -- lighting up an uncaring Inter side that was already four goals up was not that impressive -- he's not completely justifying it. You just can't help but feel he's going to score. 10 in eight games will make you feel that way. So already you feel like Liverpool are one down and we're 48 hours from kickoff.
However, Liverpool will not be as susceptible to getting torn apart by Spurs as Arsenal were and other teams have been. You can thank Jamie Carragher's aging legs for that. Liverpool can't play that high of a line with Carra back there, and Spurs's strength comes from Bale, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Dempsey at times, and a couple others cutting in from wide and getting behind a defense to be found by Dembele, Parker, Holtby, whatever. It can be breathtaking at times.
Liverpool also have Lucas rounding into his top form, and he can be something of a chicken bone in the throat for where all this starts. Bale has been cheating into the middle a lot more this season, helping to cause this goal rush, but he'll find Lucas there. If he remains out wide and is looking for someone to find him, Lucas and Gerrard will be pressing the providers. It's not guaranteed to be a lockdown safe, but I feel it has the potential.
The only other problem then is who do you start on the right of midfield/attacking three to aid Johnson in keeping Bale at bay from the wide areas. There's a temptation to throw Suarez, Coutinho, and Sturridge out there as a magic troika of death. But Henderson especially, and Downing to a lesser extent, would be more trustworthy in the defending portions. Henderson would have the added bonus of tucking in anyway, giving Bale even less space. You wonder if Coutinho is trusted for a match this big anyway yet.
From there, you know the rest of the team.
While Spurs have been sweeping aside everyone, their clean sheet against Inter on Thursday was only their second clean sheet in 10 games. There are goals here, especially if Sturridge and Suarez can pick up where they left off before Sturridge got hurt. Dawson can get caught out on the ground, and one gets the feeling that Assou-Ekkotu and Walker are better going forward than going backward. Liverpool didn't struggle to score against a Villas-Boas side last season, as they pressed Chelsea into oblivion twice. That's still part of the philosophy.
In fact, the other fullbacks will be the story. With Bale looking for space in the middle, will Johnson have the run of Anfield to get forward? Lennon is an injury doubt, but it's the same question on the other side.
When these two last met, Spurs sprinted out of the gate for two quick goals, and Liverpool took control from there but could only manage an own-goal of Bale's face. They can't let Spurs gain control from the get-go this time.
A win will put Liverpool just two points behind idle Arsenal for fifth. It'll see them go ahead of a FA-Cup busy Everton. Yes, the Gunners will have a game in hand, but when recently have Arsenal responded to pressure well?
It's time to get that boulder over the hill.