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Liverpool vs Tottenham: Three Major Decisions for Brendan Rodgers



Liverpool have hardly any time to reflect back on the performances at Goodison last Saturday, as they prepare for another tough battle against Tottenham on Tuesday night at Anfield.

Tottenham have jumped up to fifth place after defeating Arsenal 2-1 in the last match at the White Hart Lane, where striker Harry Kane produced one of the performances of the season for any side.

The Reds could only manage a frustrating and a drab goal-less draw against their Merseyside rivals that leave them in a situation where they have to win at Anfield in order to keep their top four hopes alive.

Liverpool spurned their chances to close the gap with other potential top four challengers, and although their unbeaten run against Everton has been extended to 10 games, it was two points lost, rather than one gained.

Spurs have won four in their last five Premier League games that includes victories against London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal.

One of the major tasks for Liverpool will be to stop Harry Kane from scoring again. The England international has scored 22 goals this season and is making a good habit of scoring against big teams.

Should Liverpool start with Jordon Ibe?

Rodgers took a bold decision by throwing young Jordon Ibe into the electrifying atmosphere of the derby battle on Saturday.

The Liverpool manager was left with limited options following the fitness issues of Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana.

Instead of going going safe with defensive minded Glen Johnson, the Reds manager threw young Ibe into the cauldron, and Rodgers’ faith in him was richly rewarded.

Fearless Ibe, a product of Liverpool’s academy, with his powerful runs and direct movements created panic in the opposition box and showed maturity beyond years with his tireless defending throughout the match.

He was close to etching his name in the Merseyside derby folklore after his 25-yards thunderbolt cannoned against the post.

Markovic and Lallana are expected to be ready to face Spurs that could see Ibe dropping to the bench, however, there could be a temptation to start with youngster again. It won’t be a bad idea, but there is hardly any need to take too many risks now.

Will Daniel Sturridge start against Spurs? 

Rodgers had urged everyone to remain patient with Sturridge following his return from injury. The England striker was involved in three substitute appearances since but has looked rusty despite scoring a goal on his return against West Ham.

He probably is still not ready to play entire 90 minutes and it will take some time for him to get back into his old best.

At the same time, managers often take gambles with the fitness of good players. Match winners need only a moment of two to kill off the opponents. The best example that come to mind here is Fernando Torres’ outstanding goal against Manchester United in 2009.

Skipper Steven Gerrard was injured for that match that forced then-manager Rafael Benitez to gamble with a half-fit El Nino.

Throughout the first half, Torres was almost invisible. It was Liverpool’s Torres of course, the then best striker in entire Europe. He could barely move.

When Yossi Benayoun threaded a nicely crafted through ball, Torres latched on to it, sandwiched him between Vidic and Ferdinand, beat both of them with position and pace and finished it off with great aplomb.

He saved all his energy for that one particular moment and it changed the outcome of the match. Can Rodgers do the same with Sturridge?

How to fill the void left by Lucas’ injury? 

Lucas left the pitch in the early stages of last Saturday’s goal less draw against Everton with a groin injury.

The Brazilian is expected to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines and his absence is a major headache for Rodgers.

The obvious answer is Joe Allen. The Welshman is confident of finishing the season on a high (after injury set backs) and help Liverpool reach their target.

“But my season has been broken up by minor injuries and each time it takes you a little while to get back to the level you want to be at,” he said to Liverpool Echo.

“It’s been frustrating but hopefully I can stay fit now and help us finish the season strongly. I’m confident that if I stay fit and get myself in this team I can help and show what I can do.

“We will give everything to get into the top four. We have ground to make up and work to do but it starts in our next game against Spurs.

Liverpool have struggled earlier in the season when Gerrard and Allen have played together in the middle. In fact, Gerrard’s own form has been poor and it remains to be seen how the system will work out from here on.

Can Rodgers take a bold decision and bring Emre Can in the middle? If Liverpool are being able to take control over the midfield and cut off the supply line for Kane, they will have a great chance of winning the tie.