Thursday, December 19, 2013

Comments on a Complete Performance: Liverpool 5 - Tottenham Hotspur 0

Photo by Tim Geers on Flickr

Scott is enraptured:

A "complete performance" is how Brendan Rodgers described Liverpool's effort away at Tottenham last Sunday; and I couldn't agree more.  It wasn't just the 5-0 scoreline, even if a first clean sheet in five games weren't reason enough to cheer.   It was the tenacious and unrelenting pressing of the ball.  It was the pugnacious tackling and swarming defending.  It was the creative passing and running that sliced and diced.  It was the stunningly stubborn will to play the ball out of the back.  And, it was a certain Uruguayan with the captain's armband who contributed a mere 2 goals and 3 assists.

To say Luis Suarez is on fire of late is to describe Sofia Vergara as merely pretty.  He ignites the players around him, and will continue to earn the respect of more and more players, fans and coaches as he continues to mind his manners and not dive.  I'm not even convinced he embellished Paulinho's cleat to the chest, which clearly deserved a red card because you could see that the Brazilian purposely contorted his leg to impede Suarez who was on his way past.  Only 11 games removed from his suspension for preschool antics and there he is sporting the captain's arm-band, playing with integrity and having only accumulated 1 yellow card so far in the season. Rodgers has managed him brilliantly and I may exhale yet.  By the way, 2 goals and 3 assists go a long way toward helping people forget a wide open net you missed.

But while Suarez was clearly the leading man, the supporting cast was a veritable Reservoir Dogs of character actors.  Young John Flanagan (because that's what the commentators are required to call him, it seems) has been a revelation both defensively and going forward.  And how about a first Premier League goal for the young lad?  It was taken brilliantly on the half-volley before it careened in off the cross bar for the third, and traditionally decisive, goal.

Were it not for the Suarez' incomparability, Raheem Sterling would surely have been man of the match.  He was everywhere - harassing, creating, taking on players, chasing down balls.  And is it just me or has Raheem been hitting the gym?  Why, it was only 2 months ago that the slight midfielder was getting shoved off the ball at every coming together.  But now it was he who was muscling defenders off the ball and effectively using his body to shield and buy time before his next lightning move or penetrating pass.  His goal, when it finally came, was well taken and deserved.  I, for one, am glad we have already signed him to a long-term contract.

Something must be said about the improving Jordan Henderson, even if I must eat a little crow in the process.  I was perhaps loudest among those bemoaning the price paid for the former Sunderland player after a long run of consecutive starts last season yielded only some hard running and an open mouth.  But it seems he is finally coming of age as he helps set the tempo with his high-energy play and that hustle is beginning to be matched by his increasingly deft touch and vision.  His persistence and the quality of his volley were deserving of the goal they enabled.

There's always a silver lining and maybe the one applicable to Steven Gerrard's injury absence will be the long-term development of these players who must shoulder more responsibility.

This is farlieonfootie for December 19.

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