With the FA Cup also taking place this weekend, there is no doubt that Liverpool’s showdown with Tottenham is the marquee English Premier League matchup in a reduced set of matches.
The contest will feature two of the most prolific players in England in Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, and both sides are capable of producing incredible goals.
Each team will be fighting to continue their climb up the table. The Reds have a chance to supplant Everton in sixth place, while a Spurs victory would put the team just two points back from Manchester City in second, although both the Toffees and the Citizens would have a game in hand.
Here is everything you need to know about this Premier League clash.
Where: Anfield, Liverpool, England
When: Sunday, March 10, a 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2 Go
What They’re Saying
The entire Premier League is talking about Gareth Bale.
His recent brilliance has dominated all other storylines, and he scored his 10th goal in his last eight matches during a 3-0 blowout against Inter Milan in the Europa League. The New York Times’ Andrew Das compared the Welshman’s hat-trick against Inter three-years ago to the form he has been in during the last several games:
This younger Bale was a slightly different version than the one who has been tormenting Premier League teams for months now with knuckling free kicks and lasers unleashed on unsuspecting goalkeepers by his million-dollar left foot. Oh, that Bale was probably in there then, just as his speed and touch are evident today. But the Bale who skinned Inter was different. This was running Bale. Dribbling Bale. Unmarkable Bale.
Regardless of which Bale shows up against Liverpool, the fans at Anfield will be holding their breaths every time he touches the ball.
Liverpool Player to Watch: Luis Suarez
When a single player scores 40 percent of his team’s goals during a league campaign, it removes all doubt over who fans should keep an eye on. Suarez has continued his progression towards becoming one of the great Premier League goalscorers this season.
Lesser strikers cause fans to worry when they get the ball in front of goal, as this brings about the nervous feeling that a golden opportunity will be fluffed. But when Suarez gets an inch of space in the penalty area, fans can remain calm and confident, as the Uruguayan has been lethal in front of goal this year.
He is coming off of a hat-trick against Wigan last weekend and has an astonishing six goals in his previous three matches.
During these contests, he has flashed his incredible touch and creativity in tight spaces, as well as his remarkable finishing technique. With the form he is in, the Tottenham back line cannot afford to give him any space in this showdown.
Tottenham Player to Watch: Gareth Bale
If not for Bale’s extraordinary stretch of matches, then Suarez would be the main storyline in England right now.
But the Welshman has not only scored in seven of his last eight matches, but he scored game winners in the final moments of games against both Lyon and West Ham recently.
Andre Villas-Boas has let him loose on defenses across Europe, allowing him to attack from the center of the pitch instead of from the wing. This shift has lifted Bale’s career to another level, and the Liverpool centre-backs are in serious danger of getting embarrassed in this match.
With Suarez and Bale showing off their attacking talents on Sunday, there will be no time to look away from the action.
Key Matchup: Centre-Backs vs. Superstars
Both Suarez and Bale have the ability to leave opposing defenders feeling utterly helpless, but the team that gets the best performance from its pair of centre-backs will have an advantage.
For Liverpool, the biggest challenge will be positioning. The team cannot sit back and let Bale fire on goal from distance, but also must ensure that it does not overcommit and let the Welshman slip behind the back line, as he did against Arsenal.
The key for Spurs will be focus. Lose track of Suarez for a split second, and he will find a gap in the defense and be through on goal in the blink of an eye.
It will take a monumental effort from both team’s centre-backs to contain these two superstars.
Prediction: Tottenham 3, Liverpool 1
Tottenham’s form is far too impressive for them to drop points in this match, even when playing away from home.
Spurs are bursting with confidence and appear extremely comfortable when following Bale’s lead. The 23-year-old will continue his incredible run and lead his club to another victory.
But Liverpool will make it difficult, and the score line will not reflect how well Brendan Rodgers’ side will perform for its fantastic supporters.
Tottenham will simply have too much offensive firepower to lose and will grab a late goal to seal a victory while Liverpool is pushing forward in search of an equalizer.