09 March 2013

Tottenham vs. Liverpool Preview: Hope for a Tie

As promised, a quick look at Sunday's match-up between Spurs and Liverpool. The most compelling storyline for most other writers will be on Bale-Suarez, but I worry that they might miss the boat by focusing too much on goals. Yes, it's true that Suarez leads the league and that Bale has been a tear lately, but the real issue concerning the two is not so much who will score, but will be be booked for simulation first. Between the two of them, it's hard to figure out who's best. Suarez might win for frequency, but Bale makes up the difference through silliness.  Both teams, however, come in in fine form, but Spurs arguably on a longer run of success. Sunday should see Skrtel and Sturridge return to action, but Adebayor may still sit after injuring his knee against us last week. Whether this helps or hurts Spurs is for anyone to guess.

I don't particularly care who plays for which team on Sunday, frankly. I don't bear any particular animosity towards either one. As it stands, one stands between us and a top-four finish, and the other is nipping at our heels for the same. With that in mind, we have to carefully consider our options. Normally, I'd pull for the lowest of the three teams concerned to win, in this case, Liverpool. This way, all three points go to the team least likely to finish above us. However, in this case, the situation is different. Only five points separate us from Liverpool, so a win for them puts them two back. To this point, I have not considered them as contenders for the top four, but five points separates us from Chelsea. If we believe overtaking Chelsea is legitimate, we have to acknowledge that Liverpool overtaking us is just as legitimate. We obviously can't hope for Spurs to win as this would put them ten points up, almost certainly out of our reach with nine games left to play. Further, this would then put them two behind Man City, contending for second place. I may not hate Spurs as much as a loyal Gunner should, but I do enjoy St. Totteringham's Day. So a Spurs victory goes out the window.

This clearly leaves us the only option--a draw. Both teams take a point, but this is our best option. Spurs remain in striking range, although it's long range, at eight points above us. Liverpool inch closer at four points back. Normally, it's best for us for the weaker team to steal all three points. However, given how tightly packed the top of the table is (at least 3rd through 8th), a draw is in this case best for us. For both Spurs and Liverpool, two points disappear from their ledgers, amounting almost to a four-point benefit to us. Along the way, I may claim to be above rooting for injuries to opponents, but I have no such compunctions regarding red cards. Should Bale, Suarez, both, or someone else see red, that's fine by me. The key, though, is the draw. May neither team win.